Did you ever see a piece of graph paper you didn’t like? Thought not. The love for a grid in a room is directly proportional to the mass of designers therein. Humans tend to adhere to some form of grid – whether it be physical or psychological, and, in a world of chaos, a sheet of graph paper comforts us with its regularity and its nostalgic nod to our school days.
The origins of graph paper are not so regular, to confuse matters the term ‘graph’ was not widely use before the mid 1800s. It is thought that the first commercially produced sheets were printed in 1795, by a Dr Buxton of England. Evidence shows an earlier appearance, but these utilised a hand drawn grid which, incidentally, is a very therapeutic activity for a rainy Sunday.
In the late 1800s a boom in the student population gave rise to a greater quality of maths education, and readily available materials were needed. Modern maths skills included plotting a curve to display a mathematical relationship. So, whilst its source is not crystal clear, the irony is that the graph paper grids always were present – it is no surprise then that they have inspired artists and designers for many years.
Artist Hadi Tabatabi often uses string and thread to create graph paper, gluing each strand down individually and layering them up. Other calming grids are created using acrylic and reference the earlier works of Agnes Martin and Eva Hesse.