Graphic design classics: Oskar H.W. Hadank

Design & Style

Oskar Herman Werner Hadank (or  most commonly Oskar H.W. Hadank) was a german graphic designer and a highly influential teacher for the early beginnings of the modernist movement. Although he never actually participated in it, his work is a clear inspiration for the graphic design trends that would develop from then on. Born in Berlin, Hadank  started producing designs for packaging, labels, and trademarks among other things since 1907, with a distinctive style inspired in his Prussian background (think heraldic symbols, swashes, and specially Prussian visual sobriety). His upbringing in a illustrated family had also a huge influence in his future style, considering his grandfather was already involved in the industry: a well-known wood-engraver who during the early nineteenth century designed business and calling cards.

The evolution of his style varied from a very classic manner to a more abstract and modern form, with the use of geometric patterns, bold lines and simple shapes, a clear example of his influence in the following graphic design era.  “Professor Hadank undoubtedly belongs to the purest, indeed it might be said to the most classic type of contemporary advertising artist, who since the turn of the century has gradually emerged from the experiences of a new profession and feels it a duty to place genius and talent at the service of economic life.”  He had a special attention to detail and an immense devotion to the use of simple shapes for his designs, which are brilliant examples of these characteristics, i.e. the Pelikan logo that is still in use.

His work with logos were really avant-garde for his time, many of them that could perfectly pass as contemporary pieces. Check out some of his designs, they are a great inspiration for new work; looking back on iconic works past is always beneficial for new creations.



Sources DesignObserver, Imprint

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