Steve Jobs effect on Graphic Design

Steve Jobs effect on Graphic Design

When Steve Jobs sadly passed away in October 2011, there were few who were unaffected. Journalists and commentators listed the various ways in which Jobs changed the world, however this focus was not solely on tech. I don’t think any person would question the impact Apple had on technology, nor would many quibble over investing in their stocks (if even possible). According to Forbes, Apple is worth an outstanding 1 trillion. I’m not sure how that figure is reached or what it means, but I know it would pay of the mortgage. Anyway, back to Jobs…

Because he didn’t just change the world of tech, the Apple brand sells immensely well because it is cool. Its design set trends and changed the way consumers interact with their phones and laptops. No longer simply a functional tool Apple technology became coveted and desired. And gave every soon-to-be Hipster an identifiable marker (apart from the admittedly cheaper burly beard.)


Job’s aesthetic was heavily influenced by his travels around India (which he made after dropping out of college) as well as his fascination with Zen Buddhism. Jobs, rather pretentiously, once said, “I have always found Buddhism—Japanese Zen Buddhism in particular—to be aesthetically sublime.” His entire design focus was on simplicity: clean images, straight lines. In 1977 he commented, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”


Jobs had a very personal interest in calligraphy finding, as I’m sure most of us do, decorative handwriting fascinating. So it is unsurprising that the Mac was the first computer to come with a range of fonts. From Comic Sans (perhaps an invention that would have been best avoided,) to my personal favourites Georgia and Helvetica, Jobs changed the way we format a simple word document for the better. Enlisting the help of designer Susan Kare he made fonts accessible to the wider public, an initiative that was soon replicated by every tech and printing company.

Apple iMacIcons

The very same Susan Kare who helped Jobs revolutionise fonts also helped create icons, a now massively popular tool in graphic design. Accessible and friendly, they help even your grandma feel comfortable on a desktop. Immensely popular, they humanise computers – giving them a happy or sad face as well as using a bomb icon for total system failure. Icons are now an integral part of design and used widely to help express thoughts and opinions in a simple format.


Steve Job’s award winning advert in 1984, without showing a singular computer or actual product did more for his company than any alternative ever could.

Playing on the dystopian Orwellian vision of 1984 (glad to see my A level in English didn’t go to waste) it was thoroughly innovative. Breaking all boundaries it set an entirely new precedent and opened up advertising – making it into a respected art form.

Whether or not he was difficult, obstinate or just a bit of a pain. There is simply no doubt the man was a genius.

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