Graphic arts is a term applied historically to the art of printmaking and drawing. In contemporary usage it refers to the applied trade-skills of a graphic designer or print technician. The term can include the trades of lithography, serigraphy and bindery, among others. Graphic arts as a trade can be traced back to the first instances of the stamped image or word.
Tang Dynasty and Bi Sheng
The technique of printing with carved wood blocks appeared about the 7th century, early in the Tang dynasty. It was invented as a way to enscribe thousands of sheets of rice paper with a memoire of a beloved Empress. Every sheet of paper was placed in hilltops and shrines all over China so that her name would never be forgotten.
Movable type was first invented by Bi Sheng of the Song dynasty between the years 1041 and 1048. This invention was recorded by his contemporary Shen Kuo in his Dreampool Essays. During the 13-14th centuries, the agriculturist Wang Zhen made an important contribution to the development of movable type printing.
Moveable type was probably first used in Europe in the mid 15th century by Gutenberg in Germany, who also invented the printing press. This combination then rapidly spread to the rest of Europe, and later the world. Printing became a distinct trade.
Tools of the trade
From digital proof to plate to press.alex