World Graphic Design Contemporary

World Graphic Design ContemporaryWorld Graphic Design Contemporary Graphics from Africa, the Far East, Latin America and the Middle East Geoffrey Cabab London: Merrell, 2004 ISBN 1-85894-219-5 160 pages, full color illustration, hardbound, $49.95

The intention of this book cannot be fulfilled. It opens stating that it will explore graphic imagery developed outside "the influence of the European tradition." The world is too small now (and has been for some time) to escape multi-cultural influence - in any direction. It is an interesting question, however, to consider in what way designers can escape global influence. The use of syntax and imagery in this work, whether photography or illustration, is as sophisticated and controlled as any I've seen. The pragmatics of who the clients are and who the audience is, tends to direct the design toward more sophisticated approaches as well. The work represented is beautifully printed - also a sign of a client with money who desires to attract others with money to the product or service in question. Some pieces fall outside the realm of commerce: announcement of poetry readings, literature colloquium, etc. But even here in low budget, low impact projects, the designer cannot express other than sophistication - after all they are visually literate. What is vernacular communication like in these countries? Is it useful, i.e., does it communicate? Can the local escape the global? Would a designer be so bold as to try this? Is it even possible?