Saturday, 17 December 2016

OUGD601 Research: Feminist Graphic Design

70% of graphic design students at Central Saint Martins (CSM) are women, compared with 50% in the late 1990s. Yet the number of female graphic designers that currently feature in the curriculum is only 30%.

"Gender issues are being talked about all the time now; we're arguably in a fourth wave of feminism," says Ruth Sykes, lecturer at CSM. "I thought it was a good time to enter that conversation specifically from specifically the graphic design education point of view."

Rachel 'Ray' Marshall satirises the bigoted, chauvinistic, anti-suffrage view that attractive young women were not interested in voting or reforming women's pay.

Rachel 'Ray' Marshall, Common Cause Cover Cartoons, 1910

"Together, Margaret Calvert and Jock Kinneir designed the road signs for Britain that have been used since 1965," Calvery drew a number of the original symbols, including the famous "Men At Work" sign.

Margaret Calvert, Men At Work, 1965, image courtesy of Ruth Sykes

The 'second-wave feminist women's magazine' was produced in 1973 by Kate Hepburn and Sally Doust, and the pair set out to create 'a new kind of visual language that would indicate it was both a women's magazine and a publication that challenged the status quo'.

Spare Rib, Kate Hepburn & Sally Doust, 1973

Note how Spare Rib's allusion to 'the liberated orgasm' in 1973 has now transformed into the pink vibrator of Ladybird's celebrated 2015 cover.

Ladybeard magazine, issue 1, 2015

Although there are many women who study graphic design, in 1994 the number of graphic designers in the industry was predominately male, something that the UK's Women's Design and Research Unit actively sought to rectify.

'The experimental typeface consist of dingbat style icons reflecting on the endless spectrum of stereotypical language used to label and control women. While there are more women in typography today, it is interesting to note the recent creation of the 'Alphabettes' network, which exists to support and promote women in the fields of lettering, typography and type design.'

WD+RU, Pussy Galore font poster, 1994, image courtesy of Ruth Sykes

This was a really interesting article. Finding out about 'Spare Rib' magazine and 'Pussy Galore' typeface could definitely be helpful with both the practical and written elements of this project.

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