For anyone that didn’t know it already, today is International Women’s Day. As the world busily celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women, whilst at the same time raising awareness of inequalities that still exist, I’ve been sitting here at my desk searching for some inspiration. What profound thoughts can I share to enable us to join in the #IWD2018 buzz?
Where to start? The obvious place nowadays seems to be my good old friend Google. I frantically begin my research by typing in: “Famous graphic designers”, I then narrow my search to ‘results from the UK’ only. What a surprise (not)! Most of the names and pictures that appear are those of men. “OK”, I say to myself, “let’s try being a bit more specific”. I then try typing in: “Famous female graphic designers”. A few names crop up, none of which I’ve ever really heard of before. That either says something about my own personal ignorance, or the fact that these individuals and their work have never really been widely celebrated or publicised before. I’ve a sneaky suspicion it’s a mixture of both, i.e. the fact that I’ve never bothered to find out more about these inspirational women (shame on me), but also because they’re not names that are generally bandied around.
Of course, I’ve often heard of the likes of Neville Brody, Saul Bass and Milton Glaser, but I’ve never heard of Margaret Calvert, referred to in an article by Design Week as: “the mother of modern day information design”. Margaret’s most significant achievement was “helping to redesign the UK’s entire road sign system, replacing the previously chaotic mish-mash of different typefaces and symbols commissioned by various bodies that existed previously”.
Dig a bit deeper into my online research and I learn that only 40% of professional designers are female, yet other statistics I come across suggest that a larger proportion of those studying design tend to be women. What’s clear is that the design industry, and the media, still have some way to go in raising awareness of the achievements of women in graphic design, and of nurturing, encouraging and promoting new and existing talent.
Celebrating the women at Forepoint
Here at Forepoint, we’ve our own crop of fantastic, talented, creative, female designers – Alicia, Karen, Jen and Emma O. We’ve also got the wonderful Ali, a member of our senior management team and Forepoint’s Creative Director. Supporting them is me (Alison), described the other day as the marketing department! Plus, we’ve the super smashing and lovely Emma J and Pat, the engine room of the whole organisation.
On International Women’s Day, let’s all spend some time learning more about inspirational, female graphic designers. Also, let’s think about what we can do to create the next generation of female designers – ones whose names and whose work we are aware of!