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Research Guide for Graphic Design

Online Reference Sources - Print Reference Sources - Researching Artists / Designers - Journal Articles - Books

Online Reference Sources

Graphic Design Archive Online
A comprehensive collection of primary sources on the history and practice of 20th century design prepared by the library at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).

Cary Graphic Arts Collection
Many gems to be found in this collection of graphic communication history and practices. The collection is housed at RIT.

AIGA, the Professional Association for Design
Take a look at the "Tools and Resources" section.

Oxford Art Online
Oxford Art Online (OAO) offers online access to several reference books about the history of art including the encyclopedic Grove Art Online.

Credo Reference
This electronic resource provides online access to over 350 reference resources with content from many disciplines.

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Print Reference Sources

These reference books are located in the library on 2nd floor. You can consult these in the library; they cannot be checked out.

Graphic Design, Translated by Peter J. Wolf
REF NC997.W65 2010

The Thames & Hudson Dictionary of Graphic Design and Designers by Alan Livingston
REF NC997 .L54 2003

Influences: A Lexicon of Contemporary Graphic Design Practice by Anja Lutz
REF NC997 .G475 2006

Type: A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles ed. by Cees W. de Jong  (2 vols.)
REF Z250 .A2T47 2009

Printing Types: Their History, Forms, and Use: A Study in Survivals by Daniel Berkeley Updike (2 vols.)
SpecColl Z250.A2 U6 1922

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Researching Artists / Designers

First questions to ask when researching artists, which will help you plan your research:

1. Is the artist living (contemporary)?
Living, or contemporary, artists may have very little published about them in academic journals and books. Information on the free web will likely be your best avenue for starting research about an artist.

2. How long was the artist active?
Documentation of an artist's work usually begins in their 30's. If an artist lived to be 80, they will have fifty years of work, ideas, and influences for you to research. An artist's body of work will transform over time, changing how their work looks and how it's received by the public.  Look at work and publications from different periods of the artist's life to fully understand their body of work.

Reliable web sources about artists:

Artists' Websites
An artist's website is a primary source about the artist. It is a first-hand account provided by the artist.
If you find contact information such as an email address, use it. Artists are people, too, who enjoy it when other people are interested in their work. Artists are also professionals, so correspond with them in a professional, organized, and considerate manner.

Gallery Websites
Galleries that show or represent certain artists usually have information about the artist online.
Galleries often have an archive of material not posted on the web. Contact the gallery about additional materials they may have about the artist. Remember to correspond with them in a professional, organized, and considerate manner.

Museum Websites
Museums that own works by an artist or have exhibited work by the artist usually have information online about that artist. Museum libraries collect information specifically about their objects. Museums often have archives which contain primary source documents about artists. Remember to correspond with the librarian or archivist in a professional, organized, considerate manner.

Look for these items when researching online. Be prepared to dig for them.

  • Images/videos
  • Biographical information
  • Resume OR Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • Artist's Statement
  • List of publications by and about the artist
  • Interviews
  • Contact information for the artist
  • Social media profiles

If you discover your living artist has been active for a while and/or has exhibited extensively, consider the additional resources listed below. Remember to search the databases listed in the "Databases" tab for articles published in credible art magazines and journals. Also, search for books about your artist in ALiCat and I-Share.

Online Resources About Artists/Designers:

A collection of online sources about artists and designers

AIGA biographies
Graphic designer biographies from AIGA

Art21: Art in the 21st Century
PBS television series that focuses on contemporary visual art and artists in the United States. Includes textual and visual content about artists, biographical information, and interviews.

Graphic Design Archive Online
Biographies of designers

Oxford Art Online
Off-campus access requires Augie username and password.
OAO provides access to four resources in art history, including Grove Art Online, which is the expanded online version of the Dictionary of Art, edited by Jane Turner.NOTE: Not all artists included.

Online Video Interviews:

Aiga Videos of Designers

Hundreds of videos about artists and their work, process, and influences.

Art21: Art in the Twenty-First Century

PBS television series that focuses on contemporary visual art and artists in the United States. Includes textual and visual content about artists, biographical information, and interviews.

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Journal Articles

Use these databases to locate articles in popular magazines and scholarly journals about graphic design:

Academic Search Complete:popular and scholarly

Art and Architecture Complete:scholarly journals and books

JSTOR:full text archive of scholarly articles

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The call numbers for books on graphic design are found at NC997-998. Books on typography are located at Z244-250. Since graphic design is closely allied with the arts, books related to design may be found in other locations in the N area. When you find a book you like, browse nearby for more books. When you are searching in ALiCat and come across a book that looks promising, you can also explore the topics assigned to that book and click on those links for more results.

Special Collections, located on the first floor of the library, holds a number of books related to graphic design and typography. These include both secondary sources about design and typography, as well as books which feature the work of various designers and typographers. Some Special Collections materials can be found by searching ALiCat, but you should also consult the Special Collections Librarians, especially if you are looking for books in certain typefaces or featuring the work of designers who are not illustrators, as this information is not commonly included in catalog records and will not show up in an ALiCat search.

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