Aztec Culture Influence in Graphic design

srpatron's picture

Hello everybody,
I'm interested in how Aztec Culture have influenced Graphic Design. So far I know that Art Deco movement was influenced by Mesoamerican Art. Do you know other movements, designers, typographers or graphic artist that were influenced by Aztec culture?

thank you very much in advance

i.

Reed Reibstein's picture

Josef Albers was interested in Pre-Columbia civilizations, but I'm not sure about the Aztecs specifically. And Gabriel Garcia Meave has a number of typefaces inspired by the Aztecs and other such civilizations.

will powers's picture

Maybe you should attend the ATypI conference in Mexico City this October. Perhaps there will be some presentations that might help you with this.

http://www.atypi.org/04_Mexico

Gabriel Garcia Meave and Leonardo Vasquez, both from the DF, gave a great presentation on the history of visual communication in Mexico at a conference in Seattle a few years ago. Maybe they'll do it again.

See you there.

powers

srpatron's picture

Hey thank you for your suggestions. I like that Josef Albers was interested in Pre-Columbian civilizations; I’ll look forward to find any relation with the Aztecs.

It’s a shame that can’t go to the ATypI conferences; I’m from Mexico City but this year I’m studding abroad, why they didn’t do one year ago or in one year time ;(

Cristobal Henestrosa's picture

Correction: the right name is Gabriel Martínez Meave. Maybe you are confusing him with Gabriel García Márquez, the well known Colombian writer. By the way, García Márquez has a Mexican son who happens to be a graphic designer and type designer, Gonzalo García Barcha, but he’s more interested in colonial era. Gonzalo has Mexican Motifs, a dingbat font who includes some pre-hispanic icons, though.

About the question: I think the biggest Aztec influence in graphic design is in Mexican designers. Since nineteenth century, Mexican people has thought that Aztec past is the most authentic source for “mexicanity” (a desperate attempt for erasing the Spaniard, conquistador roots). Because of this, a lot of artists have identified themselves with Aztec world (Diego Rivera, Jesús de la Helguera, José Obregón, José Clemente Orozco…). A book about this: Enrique Florescano, Imágenes de la patria, Mexico, Taurus, 2006.

At little scale, the same is for Mexican graphic designers. It is not my specialty, but as far as I know, graphic designers outside Mexico are/were not much interested in Aztecs. But certainly you could write to Gabriel Martínez Meave: I am sure he can tell better than me. You can find his e-mail address at kimeratype.com.mx

Reed Reibstein's picture

D'oh! Thanks for the correction, Cristobal. :-)

will powers's picture

I am very sorry. I should have caught that Gabriel Martínez Meave's name was given incorrectly. & I'm really embarrassed that I perpetuated that in my post, for he he is a friend. I'm going to feel terrible all day now.

powers

Cristobal Henestrosa's picture

Oh, don’t feel so bad about it. Gabriel will understand (both of them, he).

See you in Atypi, Memo Poderes. ;)

1985's picture

http://www.lancewyman.com/

Not sure of the relevance but there must be some influence!

1985's picture

http://eduardoterrazas.com.mx/
And also Eduardo Terrazas who worked on Mexico 68.

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

Er, there's a typeface called Copal, designed by David Lemon, which was "inspired by the carvings on meso-American monuments"...

I'm not sure if this is a valid design to mention here, since the inspiration is meso-American, which could include Mayan, Olmec, etc.

srpatron's picture

Thank you very much for all your advises... I'm writing a dissertation for my MA about Aztec's pictographic language and I’m trying to find connections or influences in Graphic Design. All your suggestions have been very helpful.

Reed Reibstein's picture

Glad to be of help. If your dissertation appears online, please do add a link to this thread; I would certainly love to take a look at the final product.

spark's picture

I second Will Power's comment about Gabriel Martínez Meave’s presentation in Seattle. It was stunning. I felt like changing careers and becoming a window washer or something after seeing their work. Truly exceptional.

froo's picture

Srpatron,
polish graphic design, sculpture and architecture of 20's and 30's were strongly influenced by Aztec patterns. It was a time of searching some kind of national style as a Modern interpretation of "folklority". Designers used motivs taken from polish and ethnic minorities' (eg. Huculs) art, and blended them with mesoamerican details to get stronger feeling of antiquity or tribality.
This eclectic style, half avant-garde, half decorative, transformed before the ww2 into a government style.
The best example of the style's flavour is "Seasons", a painting by Zofia Stryjeńska:
http://www.culture.pl/pl/culture/artykuly/wy_wy_stryjenska_poznan

rs_donsata's picture

There are many examples of "Aztec" (prehispanic is more accurate) aesthetic implementation on the "institutional" architecture, graphics and sculpture from the 30's to the 80's. A kind of exquisite brutalism was the signature style of the national identity. If you want a much more figurative example look at the Ciudad Universitaria original buildings like the Central Library or the Dean's Tower.

I think that the strongest influence lies on the people's taste. Take blackletter as an example, it is not prehispanic but it has this brutal and exquisite character which made it popular in México.

Also take a look into Gabriel's personal site http://www.meave.org/Site/intro.html

Paco Calderon, the cartoonist, who is also very talented has some strips representing the institutional style of architecture I talked about:
1, 2, 3.

Héctor

rs_donsata's picture

If you look on the pictograms of the 68'Olympics pointed out by Andrew, you can find some graphic concepts lended from the Aztecs such as the wrestling pictogram which resembles the Nahui Ollin.

Héctor

srpatron's picture

Marcin,
I'm gratefully surprised with your post; I didn’t expect that Mexican or Aztec culture have had any influence in Polish art. Completely new information! Thank you!
Probably you know or you'd like to know that Mexican popular/folkloric music from the north of the country have strong influence from Polka.

i.

srpatron's picture

Héctor,
Really nice advises, I found more good examples in Gabriel’s personal site.
The wrestling pictogram which resembles the Nahui Ollin its very interesting case, it fits exactly with my work, I’m looking for works that take Aztec graphic representations as a starting point but then are transformed in something else…
Good one, than you!
i.

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