Women and men have both played a role in the history of design; but just like most industries, it’s hard to see where exactly women left their marks throughout time. As I become more invested in growing my design skills outside of my branding work, I’ve been researching a lot on the history of graphic design and even more so for this post, the female impact on the design industry throughout history. Throughout my search, I’ve discovered some real eye-opening facts on the industry and females who’ve helped shape design into what it is today.
Gail Anderson is a graphic designer and writer. She’s co-authored 16 books and has been awarded Lifetime Achievement Awards from AIGA, and she’s the first African American to receive the Cooper Hewitt National Design Awards.
Gail has also served as a board member for Adobe, the Society of Publication Designers, and the Type Dire. Her typographic style is conceptual, playful, and clever.
Gail’s work ranges from publication design to posters and branding. She has worked for Rolling Stone magazine and Globe Sunday Magazine, and she designed the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation stamp for USPS.
Carolyn Davidson is an American graphic designer, known as “the logo lady”. She attended Portland State University as a journalism major and later switched to design. Her professor, Phil Knight Carolyn, to do some work for Blue Ribbon Sports, Inc. He was introducing a new line of running shoes and needed a logo that had something to do with movement.
Carolyn sketched five concepts on a napkin and came up with five different concepts. One of them was the Swoosh by Nike, known in ancient times as the Greek Goddess of Victory. She was paid $35 for the logo and continued working for Blue Ribbon Sports, which officially became Nike in 1972.
Sylvia Harris was an African-American graphic designer and design strategist. She has been considered a pioneer in the field of social impact design.
If you’ve participated in the 2000 U.S. census, visited the Central Park Zoo in New York, or have selected a stamp at the post office, then you’ve experienced the work of Sylvia Harris. Sylia developed strategies to help remove barriers and make public information systems more accessible to everyone.
Dorothy Hayes was a graphic designer from Mobile, Alabama. She was determined to work professionally as a graphic designer after graduating from Cooper Union in 1967 and that’s exactly what she did.
Her achievements and experiences led her to become a role model for people of color and highlight their work. Dorothy organized the exhibition Black Artists in Graphic Communication, which highlighted 49 young black designers. Dorothy founded Dorothy’s Door, where she worked for corporate companies like AT&T and CBS Radio.
“Anoushka Khandwala is an editorial assistant at Elephant. Her writing deconstructs how race, culture, and identity manifest in the creative world, focusing on how we can diversify and decolonize the design industry. She’s written for Creative Review, Eye on Design, and Lecture in Progress and has spoken at the University of the Arts Berlin, Airbnb HQ with Grand Matter, and Dezeen’s Virtual Design Festival. She also works as a graphic designer and educator, and currently teaches at Central Saint Martins and Camberwell College of Arts.”
Kelly Walters is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Connecticut. She is a multimedia designer and curator. Her artistic practice studies the relation between black cultural identity, representation, and language in mainstream media. Kelly has worked as a designer for SFMOMA, the RISD Museum, and Blue State Digital.
Kelly is also the founder of Bright Polka Dot which is an independent design studio that focuses on print, digital, pattern, and textile design.
“April Greiman is an American designer widely recognized as one of the first designers to embrace computer technology as a design tool. Greiman is also credited, along with early collaborator Jayme Odgers, with helping to import the European New Wave design style to the US during the late 70s and early 80s.”