From Question Mark to Exclamation Point: A Visual History

What do designers do when they aren’t sure how to start? That is the question, until … Eureka!! The question is the answer.

Here are dozens of images that trace the history of the question mark throughout design history, ending with the exclamation point.

See, for example:

Poster for the movie Stranger Than Fiction. Design firm: Bemis Balkind Studio

Book cover for Bush On The Couch. Designer: Rodrigo Corral

Book cover. Design firm: Why Not Associates

I even used the motif for the book jacket of Karl Jaspers’ The Question of Guilt.

Book cover for The Question of Guilt. Designer: Mirko Ilic

At least I am in good company:

Maquette for the cover of the book "On Mayakovsky" by Boris Arvatov. Designer: Alexandr Rodchenko

Record cover design for Blue Note. Designer: Reid Miles

The full slideshow on Flickr is below:

All images on this page are courtesy of Mirko Ilic, a New York-based graphic designer and illustrator. He co-authored The Design of Dissent, with Milton Glaser, and The Anatomy of Design and Icons of Graphic Design, with Steven Heller. He teaches illustration at the School of Visual Arts.


If you liked this

Check out more of Mirko’s slideshows:

The Story of O: How designers use the letter O as a design motif

Why I Became an Artist: Pictures of artists drawing their models

Books on Books: Using pictures of books to sell books

Beauty and the Beast: The evolution of a classic pose

George W. Bush, Advertising Star: When companies use our president to sell stuff

Got an image to submit? Tell us in the comments!

18 thoughts on “From Question Mark to Exclamation Point: A Visual History

  1. Pingback: From ? to !, Part 2 — Imprint-The Online Community for Graphic Designers

  2. Pingback: Daily Links 04/15/2011 | EduEyeView

  3. Alicia Hallett

    Agree with Eytan!? and a few more. . .
    /Users/wb4/Desktop/mirko/52142288.JPG
    /Users/wb4/Desktop/mirko/206604705_50a4341cdf.jpg
    /Users/wb4/Desktop/mirko/2540263931_632a2e34a0_o.jpg
    /Users/wb4/Desktop/mirko/festschrift.jpg
    /Users/wb4/Desktop/mirko/qi-nec-flyer.jpg

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