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Women in Graphic Design

We’re dedicated to preserving and celebrating typographic design from underrepresented groups, including women.

Like nearly every professional field, women have been systematically omitted from graphic design history. Fortunately, many recent efforts, such as Alphabettes, Hall of Femmes, and the People’s Graphic Design Archive are pushing to rectify the situation. We’re doing our part by collecting and sharing the work of women, both past and living. Here are some highlights.

Social Media Highlights

We’ve been celebrating International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month on social media by highlighting a few of our favorite artists and designers in the collection. If you missed it, check out our “Name a Woman” video series below.

Part One: Dutch graphic designer and bookmaker Irma Boom (selected by Curator Rob Saunders), American psychedelic poster artist Bonnie MacLean (selected by Digitization Librarian April Harper), and German writer and book designer Judith Schalansky (selected by Associate Curator Stephen Coles).
Part Two: Brooklyn-based artist and writer Kameelah Janan Rasheed (selected by Collections Associate Jada Haynes), Brazilian visual artist and poet Sylvia Amélia (selected by Collections and Preservation Manager Paola Zanol), and American artist, educator, and social justice advocate Corita Kent (selected by Collections Assistant Eve Scarborough).

Blog Articles About Women Artists and Designers

Photo-Lettering’s Women
The Women of Photo-Lettering

Guest researcher Anne Galperin reveals unsung contributions to a major sourcebook of mid-twentieth-century type design.

Beyond the Bauhaus: Ecuador, Land of the Shuar

Vanessa Zúñiga Tinizaray refocuses geometric and systematic design principles on a culture far from 20th-century Europe.

Ludmila Hellmann-Kavalla

Original artwork from an Austrian student’s portfolio reveals the process of mid-century fashion advertising and illustration.

Quiet Type by Zai Divecha
Quiet Type by Zai Divecha

A remarkable sculptural installation of 26 letters and 10 numbers will grace the walls of our new home.

Angel DeCora’s The Indians’ Book and Wigwam Stories

The inventive early-20th-century lettering of Ho-Chunk artist Hinook-Mahiwi-Kalinaka opens windows to the design of North American tribes.

Laini (Sylvia Abernathy)

The Chicago-based activist’s dynamic album covers of the 1960s expand our sense of design history.

Jennifer Morla

The AIGA Medalist, AGI Member, and National Design Award Recipient donates her archive.

Suzanne Moore, Zero: Cypher of Infinity, handmade book, Vashon Island, WA, 2014, 28 x 38 cm.
Susan Skarsgard and Suzanne Moore

Among our holdings of contemporary calligraphy are two artists who break boundaries between visual art and the written word.

Elaine Lustig Cohen

A generous donation from Elaine Lustig Cohen’s estate significantly enhances Letterform Archive’s mid-century modern holdings.

Video: Lectures and Salons by and about Women

Women in the Online Archive

The Online Archive is a website of digitized items in Letterform Archive’s collection. Here are a couple of tables (curated sets) that feature work by women, and names of individual artists and designers who are represented in the Online Archive.

Women You Don’t Learn About in Design School

This introduction to important designers who are rarely discussed as part of the “Design Canon” includes Laini (Sylvia Abernathy), who is the first Black woman credited as an album cover designer; Virginia Clive-Smith, an incredibly inventive member of the psychedelia movement; and more.

Women in Metal Type Design

With few exceptions, women’s contributions in the metal type era have mostly been erased or ignored. This table accompanies a salon by Bethany Qualls. As a Mellon Public Scholar, Bethany researched the Archive’s type specimens to develop a finding aid and research hub highlighting the work of women.

More Women in the Online Archive

Many more women can be found within the 100,000+ objects in Letterform Archive’s collection. Bookmark this page, as we’ll be updating it with a more comprehensive list of artists and designers whose work you can request on a guided tour or research visit. Also, make sure you’re on the mailing list to be alerted as items are cataloged and digitized.