The culture of ideas

Graphic designer Rian Hughes has stepped away from the more visual subject of two of his previous publications, Custom Lettering of the 60s and 70s and Lifestyle Illustration of the 60s, for a new book addressing the relationship between culture and ideas.

Cult-ure: Ideas Can Be Dangerous succinctly explains how information is formed and how it travels, why we think what we think and who shapes culture, with helpful and often witty illustrations, imagery and infographics.

A spread from the book

From the use of symbols to convey meaning, to the politics of dancing throughout history, the book attempts to get to grips with how ideas are communicated, why they are important and how they are changing in the digital age.

A spread from the book
A spread from the book

Hughes argues that because of the Internet ideas are more democratic than ever and that cultural power is devolving to the creative individual. Which sounds like good news for designers. Hughes says, ‘We just have to decide whether it be art or bombs.’ Scary stuff.

If it all sounds a bit too confusing, especially if your brain is Friday-frazzled, be assured that, as the book is written be a designer, there are helpful graphics to help you out.

A spread from the book
A spread from the book

Some particularly nice examples are Hughes’ images to show data restoration, which feature a number of potential arm poses for the Venus de Milo and a page discussing how humans only remember the essential features of information given, with words from the body copy highlight to verbally and visually show this.

Culture by Rian Highes is published by Fiell, priced at £24.95.

Latest articles