Monday 27 February 2012

Elaine Lustig Cohen

Congratulations to Elaine Lustig Cohen (1927) for receiving an AIGA medal.
More of images of her work can be found here or here.

Plaster showcase of Clarendon, 1957

Euclid typeface, 2005

Saturday 25 February 2012

Riot Grrrl and design as a way of communication

Bikini Kill #2 example of a Grrrl zine

Riot grrrl is a movement that is located mostly within the punk scene of the 90's and during the third wave of feminism, it's a movement that used art and music to show their ideas to the world, and a way of communicating with each other from one woman to another. The movement started in Olympia, Washington when a few women formed bands and held women-only meetings in which girls could discuss the ways sexism controlled their everyday lives. A large part of the movement was the DIY (do-it-yourself) philosophy, in music as well as in art and design. One of the best examples is there way of using zines as their way of communicating.

What is a zine? Zines are do-it-yourself (DIY) magazines, but not necessarily how you think of magazines.  They are independently published little booklets, often created by a single person or by contributions by people without he same opinion. These booklets are often put together by gluing together words and pictures onto pages that are then photocopied, folded and stapled. They're a quick and easy, not to mention cheap, way of publishing and getting your idea out there.

Riot Grrrls used zines as their way of fighting back against the mainstream media that wasn't portraying females in a very positive light at that moment in time, telling rape victims it was their own fault, objectifying women left, right and centre, and those who didn't have the 'normal' appearance, like the riot grrrls, were portrayed as a negative influence for women and girls all over the world.

“BECAUSE we girls want to create mediums that speak to US. We are tired of boy band after boy band, boy zine after boy zine, boy punk after boy punk after boy… BECAUSE we need to talk to each other. Communication/inclusion is the key. We will never know if we don’t break the code of silence…BECAUSE in every form of media we see us/myself slapped, decapitated, laughed at, objectified, raped, trivialized, pushed, ignored, stereotyped, kicked, scorned, molested, silenced, invalidated, knifed, shot, choked and killed. BECAUSE a safe space needs to be created for girls where we can open our eyes and reach out to each other without being threatened by this sexist society and our day to day bullshit” Erika Reinstean, Riot Grrrl NYC#2

for more info please visit

Friday 24 February 2012

A Strange Way to Look at a House

If Otto Neurath has a monograph dedicated to him (Otto Neurath – The Language of Global Polis), the work of Marie Neurath deserves at least a mention (especially since she is hardly mentioned at all in the book above). She trained as a mathematician and worked on developing a system for visualising social information, which she named Isotype (International System Of TYpographic Picture Education) with long-time collaborators Otto Neurath and Gert Arntz.

Isotype Revisited
Hyphen Press

"We have all been inside a house, but how different it looks when it is cut through with our magic knife!" spread from book If you could see inside (Marie Neurath, 1948, from the 'Wonders of the modern world' series, London: Max Parrish)

How long do animals live? from Compton's Pictures Encyclopedia, Chicago, 1940 edition

Muriel Cooper's Legacy

Muriel Cooper (1926-1994) is a regrettably overlooked figure in the history of graphic and interactive design. Perhaps no one has had a greater effect on the way information—printed and electronic—is presented today. She became the first Design Director of MIT Press in 1967 and remained through 1974, charting new territory for design in the changing landscape of electronic communication. As founder and co-director of MIT’s Visual Language Workshop in 1974 (where she encouraged students to use graphic design techniques to translate computer data into more user-friendly text and images), her explorations into the interactions between technology and design broke new ground in both graphic design and computer interface development. Cooper: "I guess I'm never sure that print is truly linear: it's more a simultaneous medium. Designers know a lot about how to control perception, how to present information in some way that helps you find what you need, or what it is they think you need. Information is only useful when it can be understood." The work produced there form 1975-1994 changed the way designers thought of the possibilities of electronic media, forming the foundation of contemporary interactive design practice. “Whoever she saw, a C.E.O. or whoever, she’d do this feet-on-the-desk thing,” says former student John Maeda. “In Muriel’s era, men were tough, and she said, ‘I’ll be tougher,’ so she showed them by putting her feet on the desk.” Hats off.

Thursday 23 February 2012


Re.act.feminism #2 – A Performing Archive is a continually expanding, temporary and living performance archive travelling through six European countries from 2011 to 2013.

It presents feminist, gendercritical and queer performance art by over 120 artists and artist collectives from the 1960s to the beginning of the 1980s, as well as contemporary positions. The research focus is on Eastern and Western Europe, the Mediterranean and Middle East, the US and several countries in Latin America. On its route through Europe this temporary archive will continue to expand through local research and cooperation with art academies and universities. It will also be ‘animated’ through exhibitions, screenings, performances and discussions along the way, which will continuously contribute to the archive. More info on

Image: Ewa Partum, ‘Selfidentification,’ Warsaw 1980, Photo-montage (from a series of 8 images), Courtesy the artist

WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution

WACK! — an exhibition held in Los Angeles' Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in 2007 — explored both the international foundation and continuing legacy of feminist art. The catalogue, designed by Lorraine Wild and Victoria Lam, "is a rich survey that works as a companion to the show in addition to being a chronicle of the impact of the women’s liberation movement that sought to end inequities and discrimination against women because of gender alone." The exhibition included work by Louise Bourgeois, Judy Chicago, Yoko Ono, Cindy Sherman and Sheila Levrant de Bretteville amongst many others. "Although not all of the artists are feminists, they are all placed within a feminist context, a strategy that brings life to the exhibition and catalogue." Step magazine More info on MOCA.

Women at the Drawing Board

Alice Rawsthorn on compiling a list of 20 designers who will influence the next decade with Paola Antonelli: "Our list was equally balanced between the sexes", she explains. But… "Have things changed? Yes and no."
Students at the Rhode Island School of Design

If "most top design schools these days have a majority of female students" (...) "why do so few women reach the top of design?" Read the full article on The New York Times.

If looks could save

An article written by Rick Poynor in 2004 on two major campaigns that show how women are still defined by their looks in the advertising industry. Read it on Eye.


What's on the Vagenda?

An article in yesterday’s Evening Standard recommended the Vagenda blog, worth checking out.
‘The Vagenda blog is the embodiment of a new, young feminist voice: satirical, sharp and very, very funny. “The humour is vital because a strident tone can be alienating,” a contributor tells me. “We thought there was a proliferation of feminist analysis on the internet already. But, often, feminist blogs and websites are preaching to the converted – whereas we are trying to reach people who are not necessarily that interested as well. They’ll be more open to it if it's funny.”


Tuesday 21 February 2012


Oodee is Damien Poulain's new independent publishing venture. The POV FEMALE series of monographs (POV stands for Point of View) focuses on photographers whose self-motivated, single-themed projects exhibit a uniquely female perspective. The first series focused on five London-based photographers. POV Female Tokyo is launching in Tokyo (Calm & Punk Gallery) on March 23rd, 2012, offering a glimpse of how shared perspectives transcend geographical boundaries and respond creatively to different senses of place. More info on

Women of Design

In December 2005, Step Inside Design magazine dedicated an entire issue to Women in Design. The issue includes a review of Women Working in Design (1900-1980), Women to Watch, Ruth Ansel interviewed by Bonnie Siegler and a list of established women designers. More info here. The cover —which created a lot of controversy and debate— was designed by Number 17 (Emily Oberman —Pentagram's newest partner— and Bonnie Siegler). Read more about the cover design here and here.

Jill Abramson

Jill Abramson, the first woman to be Executive Editor of The New York Times in its 160-year history. Predictably, Abramson's appointment kicked off a broader conversation about the representation of women and people of colour in media. Read more on The New Yorker and The Guardian

Sunday 19 February 2012

Dutch Female Designers

One of the results from a 3-day workshop run by Charlotte Cheetham of Manystuff at KASK, Ghent (February 2012) was this project by students Annelies Derudder, Deirdre Lewis, Nele Winckelmans, and Rachel Hagen. ‘We only want to make clear that the position of the women in fine arts is still a little underrated.’ More info on

Thursday 9 February 2012


A History of its Own? Graphic Design and Feminism
Saturday 25 February, 12 noon

This free and public seminar includes three talks and a panel discussion about the status of feminism in graphic design today. Unlike the history of art and literature, the history of graphic design has only recently begun scrutinising its canon and methodological underpinnings. This relative youth has allowed it to recognise certain historiographic pitfalls, such as the privileging of biography over collective practices, and of Western European/North American histories. At the same time, as an emerging field, graphic design history may not have registered the impact of the 1960s/70s feminist and queer debates as much as other visual and textual studies. Can graphic design history make up lost time and imagine its history from the ground up? What models from adjacent or distant fields can allow it to fashion a history – indeed a feminist history – of its own? How does or could this reflection on graphic design's recent past shape its current self-perception as a field? How are contemporary women graphic designers in particular representing themselves within it? And what strategies can question and challenge existing historiographic models?

Catherine de Smet will introduce a selection of feminist graphic design practices from the 1960s to today. Hjärta Smärta will share their experience as publishers of the monographic book series on women graphic designers Hall of Femmes, what inspired them to get started, what they are currently working on, and where they will go next. Sara De Bondt and Merel van den Berg will present their research and data visualisation of women in contemporary graphic design.

A panel, moderated by Antony Hudek (Mellon research fellow at University College London and co-director of Occasional Papers) and Sara Teleman (Project Coordinator at Iaspis) will discuss some of the issues raised, and invite the audience to join in the debate.

2nd floor, Maria skolgata 83
118 53 Stockholm
T +46 (0)8 506 550 77 

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Yayoi Kusama

Finally Tate Modern is presenting another major solo retrospective of a female artist.
But why did they use a half-naked, sexy, submissive portrait of her on the poster?

Sunday 5 February 2012

Guerrilla Girls

Who are the Guerrilla Girls?
“We’re a bunch of anonymous females who take the names of dead women artists as pseudonyms and appear in public wearing gorilla masks. We have produced posters, stickers, books, printed projects, and actions that expose sexism and racism in politics, the art world, film and the culture at large. We use humor to convey information, provoke discussion, and show that feminists can be funny. We wear gorilla masks to focus on the issues rather than our personalities. [...] We could be anyone; we are everywhere.”

Women’s Design + Research Unit

‘The Women’s Design + Research Unit was established in the mid 90s, at a time when the graphic design profession was undergoing massive changes and the introduction and spread of new technologies was revolutionising the industry forever. Highlighting the role of women in design and in particular, their relationship to new technology, WD+RU also set out to condemn traditional male power structures in design.’

Read an interview with Teal Triggs and Siân Cook of Women’s Design + Research Unit on Birdwatching.

Dolle Mina

A great collection of posters on the feminist movement by the Dutch Royal Library can be found here.

Behind Every Great Woman

A little bit of change since 1970 but by far not enough!

Illustration from Business Week

Friday 3 February 2012

The Woman’s Building

‘In 1973, CalArts teachers artist Judy Chicago, graphic designer Sheila Levrant de Bretteville and art historian Arlene Raven were finally finished with trying to offer feminist education in a male-dominated institution like CalArts. That year they quit CalArts and founded the Feminist Studio Workshop (FSW)...’ Read on

History repeating

See Red Women’s Workshop was a screen printing workshop run as a women's collective between c1974 and the early 1990s. It was a radical campaigning and publicising organisation fully committed to the ideals of the second wave feminist movement. Read on

Thanks Gordon

Gordon Brown suggests that "that if the 20th century was the century of women's empowerment through ending women's exploitation, the 21st will be about a higher form of empowerment – women's leadership as a force for change", going on to chart "the massive technological, demographic social and political forces – including the explosive growth of a global middle class" which are "reinventing our world".
More on The Guardian

Thursday 2 February 2012

Good Design is Feminist Design

An interview with the awesome Sheila Levrant de Bretteville.
Two video interviews be found here and here.