Story: Graphic design

Page 3. Graphic style to creating brands, 1950s to 1970s

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1950s graphic style

Drawn in an understated, cartoon-like manner, the 1950s graphic style was playful and humorous. The posters and brochures created for Tasman Empire Airways Limited (or TEAL) by Bill Haythornthwaite’s Auckland studio illustrate the style and are a high point of New Zealand graphic design. This agency’s output, particularly the work of Haythornthwaite, Linwood Lipanovic and Arthur Thompson, exemplified international trends in post-war design, including the graphic style.

Flying-fish logo

Bill Haythornthwaite graduated from the Elam School of Fine Arts in the early 1930s. After the Second World War he founded W. Haythorn-Thwaite, which became a national advertising agency. One of the company’s best-known designs was the maroro (flying fish) logo for TEAL, Air New Zealand’s predecessor. The maroro was deemed an appropriate emblem because it was strongly associated with long-distance Māori sea voyages.

1960s illustrative design and pop art

The counter-culture of the 1960s affected New Zealand along with the rest of the western world. English pop designers and US look leaders such as New York’s Push Pin Studios set the pace across the globe. Murray Grimsdale’s poster for Annie Bonza clothes (1969) showed the influence of British pop designers who had reworked art nouveau to their own ends.

One of the furthest-reaching revolutions was in the look of the educational publication the School Journal in the mid-1960s, under the leadership of art editor Jill McDonald from 1959 to 1965. McDonald had trained as an architect, and her technical design expertise underpinned the seemingly relaxed, folksy style of much of her work.

International typographic style, 1960s–70s

During the 1960s the international typographic style began dominating global graphic trends. Originating in Switzerland, it was marked by the use of sans serif typefaces (especially Helvetica), arranged with a straight left margin and ragged right edge. Its minimalist ethic sought to get rid of redundant design elements. The influence of the style was evident in the approaches of leading locals such as Stan Mauger, Bret de Thier and Max Hailstone.

Colour, branding and symbols, 1970s

During the 1970s full-colour printing remained expensive. Designers had to be cunning in their use of tints and overlays, and employed photographic techniques such as posterisation, where tonal variations were made more abrupt.

Graphic identity took on full importance in this decade, and smaller companies also realised the importance of a logo to back their brand. Examples from the 1970s include the New Zealand Railways logo, designed by Barry Ellis; the New Zealand Post logo, designed by Earl Hingston; and probably the most iconic logo of the decade – the 1974 Commonwealth Games logo, designed by Colin Simon.

How to cite this page:

Hamish Thompson, 'Graphic design - Graphic style to creating brands, 1950s to 1970s', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/graphic-design/page-3 (accessed 22 January 2020)

Story by Hamish Thompson, published 22 Oct 2014