Modern web design has its roots in some of the most influential art moments in the history of the world. The elements that we identify as being pleasing to the eye are echoes and homages to the great art of the past. That’s not to say modern web design isn’t a new and important form of its own, only that like every other artistic art form it’s the product of centuries of human creativity.
Keeping the roots of modern web design in mind is important if you hit a creative block because you can always draw on the genius of the past to inspire you. If you feel like your work is stagnating, take your trusty sketchbook to an art museum and check out of the work of past masters.
The movements that had the biggest impact on modern web design come from different time periods, but their collective influence is undeniable.
There are three movements that influenced modern web design the most: the Pop Art Movement, the Bauhaus Movement, and the Renaissance. Surely there are many other influences, from the color pairings of Impressionism to the inspired lines of Cubism, but this article will focus on the top three movements whose influences are most notable. You can draw inspiration from all art!
Web Design Influence: The Pop Art Movement
Immortalized by Warhol’s enormous paintings of brightly colored soup cans and celebrity likenesses, the Pop Art Movement has had probably the greatest influence on modern web design. Its entire philosophy of celebrating and creating art of the mundane is what web designers strive to do.
One of the hallmarks of the Pop Art Movement was its ingenious use of color. Inspired pairings were seen everywhere. This technique is mimicked by modern companies that want their logos to stand out. The logo of UPS is a great example. Brown and gold compliment each other perfectly and the smooth and clean lines are pleasing and minimalist. It’s a perfect example of a pleasant and immediately identifiable icon.
The Pop Art Movement would have approved of its influence echoing into modern web and logo design, as it blended products, advertising and the mundane with high art concepts to create a whole new experience. Next time you’re standing next to a Roy Lichtenstein or Robert Rauschenberg look at the use of subject material and color. You’ll get inspired to create unique and beautiful websites in no time.
Web Design Influence: The Bauhaus Movement
You can see echoes of the Bauhaus Movement in some of the most successful and innovative websites, like Apple, whose clean and gorgeous website celebrates the functionality of their products at the same time as invoking an artistic slant that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with phones.
The Bauhaus Movement was all about merging beauty and functionality in unexpected ways. They sought to surprise and delight the viewer by playing with materials that didn’t belong together, challenging convention in an elegant way.
Modern web design owes the Bauhaus Movement a giant debt. Without the masters of yesteryear, we wouldn’t have a blueprint for the streamlined design. Effective web design combines an aesthetically pleasing look with user-friendly functionality. Websites are to be both inviting and completely intuitive. Especially now, with the advent of smartphones, people expect to be greeted with a beautiful and easy to operate website that gets them the information they need in a very short period of time.
Web Design Influence: The Renaissance
When one thinks of the golden age of art, The Renaissance comes immediately to mind. As the world was dragging itself out of the dark ages, the innovative masters of the time were revolutionizing the way we looked at the world, and the beauty to be found in it! The Renaissance combined realism with intricate detail, celebrating humanity in a way that hadn’t been done before. The great artists of this period also began working with something that we have used in every artistic work since to add life and meaning: perspective.
Renaissance artists are largely credited with creating and popularizing the use of perspective, lending realistic elements to their masterpieces and making their work unique and memorable. Web design relies heavily on perspective to make certain elements jump off the two-dimensional screen and embed themselves in the minds and memories of potential customers.
More than anything else, the technique of perspective is the cornerstone of art as we know it.
Web design might be a fairly new art form, but its roots are old and based on celebrated and genius techniques and ways of thinking from some of the art world’s greatest thinkers and creators! Look at some of the most successful websites and brands and you’ll find elements of the Pop Art Movement, Bauhaus Movement, and the Renaissance incorporated into all of them!
Samuel Caverly is the Senior Editor of Logo Realm, a site where you can find information about the most popular, elements and their history.
He has an MS in Advertising from Boston University and after graduation he has worked for many projects and firms as a freelancing graphic designer.