In this guest article Kelly Erickson* comes back for a second guest article (find her first article here) and this time Kelly showcases 7 truly unique and inspirational female graphic designers with a brief bio on each.
The field is ever-changing, yet the rock stars of graphic design are still, mainly, men. Meanwhile, the purchasing power of the globe is in the hands of individual women… It’s time to see more women like these seven, making a mark with their own Vision. Get inspired!
Marian Bantjes: Step Away From the Computer!
Based near Vancouver, British Columbia, Marian Bantjes‘ extraordinary way with communication begs to be called “graphic art,” in the finest sense of the term. Fabulous hand lettering is her trademark, demonstrating the power of a fine pen in a plugged-in world. A 2006 installation created with Stefan Sagmeister shows off her hand work in an ultra-modern context. Her spam email centerfold for the Vancouver Review will make you tear your hair out with jealousy. This is one hard-working lady, even when she’s riffing on a bit of junk mail!
Kristen Nikosey: The Art and Craft of Communication
Illustrator and graphic designer Kristen Nikosey’s work evokes Impressionist painting and Arts & Crafts style, with a distinctly California vibe. Her book illustrations are rich. Her pattern designs are meticulously casual, if such a thing is possible, with deep color that jumps off the page. In her packaging and identity work she blends today’s digital design techniques with her old-world sensibilities.
Janet Allinger: With Tongue Planted Firmly in Cheek
Irreverent humour in identity design? If you’ve got Janet Allinger to inspire you, why not! If the market can take it, this designer dishes it out. While she’s been known to do more traditional design, it’s her post-feminist comic stylings that will grab and hold your attention. Fun, funky, and a little bit in-your-face—this lady’s not afraid of being known as “edgy.”
Laura Smith: Reinventing Retro
While designer Laura Smith is at work, Art Deco will always find fresh interpretations. She’s done work for heavy hitters from Time Magazine to Major League Baseball to the U.S. Postal Service, and that’s just for starters. Classic, colorful, edited to only the necessary detail, her graphic images are nostalgic but never stuffy.
Louise Fili has a special way with food packaging and restaurant identity design: the old-fashioned way. Her intricate illustrations and hand-lettered type grace brands from the most familiar, like Williams-Sonoma’s, to the most exclusive. As a book jacket designer previous to opening her New York City firm, she designed over 2000 covers, and learned the intimate art of connecting with an audience visually within a very small frame. Today she is also the author of several excellent books on graphic design.
Deborah Sussman: Urban Legend
Art director and environmental graphic designer Deborah Sussman has been creating legendary work for public spaces for decades. Deborah and her firm, Sussman/Prejza, have done interior and exterior wayfinding and signage systems for Apple, Hasbro, the city of Los Angeles, and numerous others. She may be most famous for her comprehensive graphics program for the 1984 Summer Olympics. She has a keen eye for both client and community needs, creating work that is imaginative, spare, and crystal clear.
Paula Scher: The Dame of Grande Design
Bigger is definitely better. Bold words wrap you up and pull you in. You’re hooked! New York-based Paula Scher, one of only two female partners at mighty Pentagram, is a graphic design rock star of the highest order. She’s also an author, a superb lecturer, and her work is in the permanent collections of several museums. Her clean, brash, and inventive use of typography has influenced a generation of young designers.
Barriers? Sure. Glass ceiling? Maybe. These ladies have their eyes on the prize, not the ceiling. As a result, they’ve busted right through it. Rock on.
Editors note: For some further reading check out this great discussion / article… Where Are All The Female Designers? or maybe check out the controversial article where Milton Glaser states that “Women will never be design rockstars“.
*About Kelly Erickson: I walk in the shadows of all the giants and emerging leaders listed above, and of so many more women and men. Great thought and design is all around us. Future rock star business owners: as the owner of VisionPoints, The Experience Designers, I’m obsessed with your success. For more writings about Experience Design, visit the Maximum Customer Experience Blog.