Part 4: What does a feminist graphic design history in the United States look like?

This is the last part of the series, “What does a feminist graphic design history in the United States look like? Read Part 3 here, Part 2 here and Part 1 here.

Because the assumption of universal and pseudo-neutral design is ultimately blind to nuances, visual alternatives emerged from countercultures. During the second wave feminism movement in particular, feminist design aimed to engage and connect in an experimental, interdisciplinary, participatory, non-hierarchical and non-authoritarian way, which broke the principles of the existing male value-constructs of “good” design. It is exciting to think of how design could be more egalitarian by discovering these alternative universes with those who were left out of design history.

Modern Typography

Cut-and-pasted paper on board, Woman Freedom Now, by Faith Ringgold
Faith Ringgold, Woman Freedom Now, 1971, Accessed March 21, 2020: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/202866

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Part 3: What does a feminist graphic design history in the United States look like?

This is Part 3 of the series, “What does a feminist graphic design history in the United States look like? Read Part 2 here and Part 1 here.

Early moderns from design reform to new typography created and followed rigid guidelines to define “good” design. When researching women in typography, I found that Elizabeth Friedlander is considered one of the first women to design a typeface, Elizabeth Roman and Italic, commissioned by the Bauer Type Foundry in multiple weights in 1927. In addition, she produced multiple geometric patterned prints and covers for Penguin Books inspired from nature. Just like Friedlander, more women have had their work obscured to put forward those who followed the sacred words of Tschichold.

Proto-modernism

Excerpt of Elizabeth Colwell's Typeface in The Sketch Book
Elizabeth Colwell, Notes on Hand-lettering, September 1904, Accessed March 14, 2020: http://alphabettenthletter.blogspot.com/2016/03/creator-elizabeth-colwell.html

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Part 2: What does a feminist graphic design history in the United States look like?

This is Part 2 of the series, “What does a feminist graphic design history in the United States look like?” Read Part 1 here.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, technological advancements helped information spread fast and far. The industrial revolution led to the creation of mass media as well as romantic and revolutionary outcomes. The mechanization of print culture facilitated the geographical spread of belief systems and information as well as offered the possibility to critique, question and reject established models of society to serve women’s rights.

Information Design
Emma Willard’s Map Temple of Time

Emma Willard, Temple of Time, 1846. Accessed March 8, 2020: https://bostonraremaps.com/inventory/emma-willard-temple-of-time-1846

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24-hour Hangout for International Women’s Day 2020

If you happen to google “24 hour google hangout”, you’ll end up right here. (Well, not quite right here, but right here.) Last year around now, we had this collectively zany idea to host a global 24-hour hangout to celebrate International Women’s Day and well, it actually went pretty great. That’s why we’re doing it again! Mark your calendars, set your alarm clocks, pour yourself a nice cup of coffee / tea / wine / beer (depending on your timezone) and join us once again this Sunday, March 8 for our 24-hour Hangout for International Women’s Day 2020!
What will we talk about? Whose cat will walk across their keyboard? What’s on Amy’s desktop now? Does 2am even exist on the first morning of Daylight Saving Time? Let’s find out!

From 12am (0:00) EST to 11:59pm (23:59) EST on March 8, join the hangout for conversation on type, the universe, whatever!

>> ̶H̶̶̶e̶̶̶r̶̶̶e̶̶̶’̶̶̶s̶̶̶ ̶̶̶t̶̶̶h̶̶̶e̶̶̶ ̶̶̶l̶̶̶i̶̶̶n̶̶̶k̶̶̶ ̶̶̶t̶̶̶o̶̶̶ ̶̶̶t̶̶̶h̶̶̶e̶̶̶ ̶̶̶l̶̶̶i̶̶̶v̶̶̶e̶̶̶ ̶̶̶H̶̶̶a̶̶̶n̶̶̶g̶̶̶o̶̶̶u̶̶̶t̶̶̶ ALL Done! Thanks for Joining Us!<<

All are welcome* when you can and leave when you need. Video is possible but just audio is fine, too. Keep an eye on this spot and Twitter for the link or any updates and help us spread the word! WOMEN = FUN.

* Participants must follow our code of conduct.

WOMEN = FUN

What does a feminist graphic design history in the United States look like?

Why are women’s contributions to society systematically overlooked and obscured? Design is no exception to the rule. There is a disturbing lack of literature on women’s impact in the history of graphic design. During this year’s Women’s History Month, I will share a curated collection of twelve artifacts, from the fifteenth century through the twentieth century, that offer, from a feminist perspective, a counter visual story to the traditional white male and widely received narrative in graphic design history. Before diving into contextualizing this work, I want to briefly explain my position and how I came to focus my research on illuminating female narratives.

As individuals, we are all irradiating complex systems defined by society along with our nuanced multilayered identities. When I walk into a room, at the most superficial level, one can read that I am a woman. I am light skinned. I have tattoos. When I start talking, my French accent suggests that I am from another country than the United States. I am indeed from Morocco and I am Arab. Living in Morocco was violent in many ways. My gender was enough to be constantly harassed since I was a teen, judged on every single thing I did and ultimately made me feel like an outsider every day. I came across the word feminism in high school. It made me feel somewhat normal that my mindset was not unique. But I did not understand the divide within feminism at that time until very recently. I just knew I did not want to be subject to anything or anyone. Freedom (from patriarchy) has always been a fight to be my own person and fulfill my own purpose. As a result, my work will always have a feminist point of view. 
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The Malee Scholarship: Interview with Chantra Malee Montoya-Pimolwatana

screenshot of malee scholarship homepage

The Malee Scholarship awards $6000 USD annually to a woman of color ages 16 and over. The deadline for the first application is April 15, 2020. We asked Chantra Malee Montoya-Pimolwatana, co-founder of Sharp Type and namesake of the scholarship, a few questions about how the idea started, the site’s beautiful branding, and the application process.

When did you realize the scholarship was necessary to help address the lack of representation of women of color in type design?
I grew up in a small New England town that was heavily rooted in the Anglo-American tradition and culture. I was part of a small percentage of people of color there, and I often felt isolated. I’ve taken that experience with me everywhere in my personal and professional life. When I first got into the type business, it was not much different than other industries I had worked in, primarily represented by a single demographic. But this time I was in a position to make a difference.

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