Graphic design is the sphere of art which involves with wide range of forms, such as corporate identity, illustration, design media, etc. In general, graphic design is a visual medium which is collectively created by designers in a certain period of time. The current paper covers the development of feminism and the image of women graphic design from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day. Before the 20th century the history witnessed the origin and development of the design, while in the 20th century the design already exists as a social and cultural phenomenon which, however, goes trough certain phases of development, which may dialectically deny one another.
The Development of Feminism in Art
Feminism through the Female Role in the History of the Graphic Design. In the history of graphic design, women have more frequently served as models rather than designers or creators. In this regard, Barbara Bradley may be called one the most ardent representatives of feminism. She became famous for the comical images of flirtatious women and girls. Her works are characterized by realistic manners, with a penchant for caricaturing characters, bright colors and dynamic composition. Acknowledged masters of graphic design in the period under review are Edward Penfield (1866 -1925) and John Leyendecker (1874 – 1951). Edward Penfield made the advertising of bike clothing brand Arrow, designed the magazines, such as Harper’s, books, created calendars, political and social advertising. Penfield performed his works in a variant of Art Nouveau, which speeds up the rhythm of life in the 20th century. They involve no ornaments, while verified lines drawing is based on the local soft spots, circled rough contour. Works resemble quick sketches, grasping a moment and therefore serve as a documentation of the era. Joseph Christian Leyendecker is undoubtedly the most outstanding artists in the sphere of advertising. John Leyendecker was the author of several cultural icons of the early 20th century, such as modern image of Santa Claus, red-cheeked baby, symbolizing the New Year, which is still being replicated in the United States in magazines and on postcards, as well as the tradition of giving flowers to women on Mother’s Day (Bardzell).
It was rather difficult for women to become more than a model in graphic design. However, the representatives of feminism were trying to become graphic designers as well. The early graphic design works followed the following trend: on the covers of magazines very decent, beautiful women in sexy design were shown. In the 1930s aggressive, excessive kitsch or deliberate rudeness forms also occurred. Advertising tells mainly about family values. All the people depicted in American advertising are always joyful, confident, successful, and satisfied with their lives. They are always beautiful and typical, usually a man – a powerful Western businessman, and a woman – young fashionable and neat housewife.
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Coffee design of the 1940s does not contain an emotional charge of the 1950s. Covers are calm and aesthetic. As a rule, women are presented in a realistic way: they are elegant and beautiful. Significantly stylish solution is covered the magazine Vogue (October, 1948) by Carl Erickson. An elegant woman in a red dress and a gray scarf is depicted very simple – a few lines and spots – and at the same time realistic and “calm”. Coffee illustration of the 1940s often focuses on military issues without involving stylistic frills (i. e. Harry Bormann). As an example, illustrations by painter Michael Berry could be called peaceful: dynamic waitresses drawn without some exquisite style (Lawrence). The image of dynamic women became an expression of feminism in the development of graphical design.
Coffee design of the 1950s is more relaxed, interesting, and varied as compared with the previous decade. These designs entirely meet the concept of “good design”: elegant women on the covers of cute pastel colors express the idea of quiet optimism. There are also “flirty” solutions with children or teenagers girls. “Stylish” design options are also common in the spirit of the Italian «Bel design»: spectacular female silhouettes against a background of bold brush strokes, or, for example, the issue of the magazine Esquire, 1953, July, where the designer, Henry Wolfe, portrayed four options of colored glasses. Illustrators Belet Jen and John Avery (advertisement of “7 Up”) operate in a stylized “cartoon style.” Bruce Bomblerger creates a relaxed realistic advertising, mainly cars.
In general, graphic design and advertising of the 1950s is characterized by bold realism and high technicality. All advertising messages include the same female character – a beautiful, neat, and very feminine young lady, most likely a housewife. This image is a perfect complement of men. Man in the advertising of 1950s – it is a strong, successful, young, and optimistic man with snow-white smile. Thus, the advertisement of the 1950 depicted by graphic design speaks of a particular ideology, the ideology of a successful family life. This period is not characterized by non-conformism and feminism. Therefore, people do not search for an alternative life style (Dimond).
A good example of Constructivism in graphic design is the works of illustrator Eduardo Garcia Benito (1891-1981). In his magazine covers of the 1920s he depicted stylized geometrized female faces and figures. The artist demonstrates a complete rejection of ornamentation and refinement of modernity. Colors magazine spoke about topical international problems. It was created with the participation of international brand Benetton and produced in several languages. The motto of the magazine: “The criticality and originality – the only way to be commonplace.”
Colors was founded in 1991 with the support of Tibor Kalman and Oliviero Toscani in Italy. Since 1993, the revision of publication moved to Oliviero design studio located in New York. The concept of the magazine lies in the fact that each room is unique and dedicated to a specific issue. The problem revealed is often shocking and provocative in terms of feminism. For example, the issue devoted to the national unrest in 1993 published the photos of Queen Elizabeth II in the form of a dark-skinned woman.
Feministic Representatives of Graphic Design
Among the world graphic designers men are usually more renowned than women. Though the women who were able to achieve this recognition can be counted on the fingers of one hand, their contribution to the history of graphic design can not be underestimated. They include Paula Scher, Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, Lucille Tenazas, and Susan Kare. It is important to understand the achievements of these representatives of the feministic world, who have become the best examples of inspiration for many women.
Paula Scher is a living legend and ideal role model for many designers. Scher has become world famous thanks to her works which have always been far from the usual patterns and clichés chart. She is often called an ardent champion of the design in a retro style, though most of her works are beyond the scope of this style. When Scher uses elements of retro style in her work, she deftly carries out historical parallels, relying primarily on the emotional impact. The projects by Scher involve all the genres of graphic design, such as development of corporate style, advertising and representative materials and packaging, and design for periodicals. Her numerous clients include The News York Times Magazine, The American Museum of Natural History, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, fashion house of Anne Klein, and the world’s largest financial Scher began to work as an art director in two record companies at the same time: Atlantic Records and CBS Records. While working there at the beginning of 1970-1980, Scher created covers for records and books in an eclectic spirit of the time. Her favorite genre was typography, and this style very quickly gained popularity and recognition in design circles. It had an impact on a significant number of works of those years.
In 1984, Scher with Terry Koppel founded their design studio Koppel & Scher in New York. One of the most famous projects of the studio was a series of redesign of the title page and the first paragraph of books from different directions in the typography of the time.
Later, in 1991, Scher began her collaboration with famous design company Pentagram, works of which cover all areas of design: graphic design, architecture, interiors, industrial design, branding. Pentagram works for well-known companies, and the company’s offices are located in five major cities of the world. To this day, she continues to work in Pentagram. Nowadays Scher is working on a project to create an urban center in Washington, which will include several museums, hotels, department stores, and a number of buildings. Scher genuinely admires the way the two-dimensional design projects come to life in the hands of architects, turning them into a three-dimensional model (Essmaker).
During her long career, Scher won a lot of prizes, including four nominations “Grammy”, Chrysler Award for Innovation in design, gold medal for achievements in the field of design from the American Institute of Graphic Arts. In 1998, Scher became a member of the prestigious club of American Art Director. Operation Scher for the theater of the National Theatre was awarded the Beacon Award for the whole strategy of the designer. The works are exhibited in designer permanent collections of many museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York. For over twenty years, Scher taught design at the School of Fine Arts in New York. She also transferred its knowledge and experience in two books on design (Make it Bigger and The Graphic Design Portfolio). Nowadays, after three decades after her first work for CBS Records, designer is optimistic as ever.
Sheila Levrant de Bretteville
Strange images, precise and extraordinary sense of space to work with typography: this is the business card style of Sheila Levrant de Bretteville. Most of her works combine muted colors, as designer puts more emphasis on the individual graphic elements rather than color. The works by de Bretteville are characterized by extraordinary expressiveness. The designer skillfully applies her talent, creating unconventional works that attract attention to the problems of women in modern society.
De Bretteville was born in Brooklyn in Polish-Jewish family refugees. Family always supported Sheila in all her artistic endeavors. Thanks to the help of parents and school teachers, de Bretteville managed to achieve success in the arts. The designer received Bachelor’s degree in History of Art at Barnard College in New York. De Bretteville learned at Yale University, known for its high level of artistic education, to receive Master’s degree. In 1960 the designer married architect Peter de Bretteville and moved with him to Milan. There, she worked with famous design company Olivetti, creating posters in defense of a free press. In 1971 she returned to de Bretteville Los-Angeles, where she created the first course in the history of women’s design at the California Institute of the Arts. In 1973 she founded the independent organization “Women’s Building”. This organization initiated the feminist movement in the arts and, in particular, a graphic design that has engulfed the whole of America.
Teaching always attracted de Bretteville. She taught design and graphics in a variety of universities in both Americas. Among them there are such well-known institutions as the University of California, Berkeley, and ATU. During her long and fruitful career in graphic design, de Bretteville created many works commissioned by customers of various profiles: the company Warner Bros Records, the Los Angeles Times, etc. She also worked on the publication of the women’s magazine Chrysalis. De Bretteville always fought for equality in everything, and first of all in the design.
Thus, in her work The Revaluation of Some Aspects of the Design, in Terms of Women Design de Bretteville writes that complex graphics solutions cause the viewer a sense of involvement. The designer suggests that these and other purely feminine values, expressed in graphical form, are able to break the stereotypes of public acceptance of the social division between men and women. In 1990, de Bretteville became the first woman included in the full-time teachers at the School of Art at Yale University. Many of her works are exhibited in museums around the world, including the famous Museum of Modern Art in New York.
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Lucille Tenazas is one of the foremost contemporary American designers. Her work is characterized by surprisingly accurate transmission connection between the visual image and the semantic text content. Surprisingly delicate work with typography is one of the features of her unpredictable originality and imaginative integrity. Tenazas was born and raised in the Philippines, where she also received a degree in graphic design. Tenazas worked as a graphic designer in the Philippines for some period of time. Determined to improve and continue her education, in 1979 Tenazas moved to the U.S. and enrolled at the California College of Arts and Crafts. She then enrolled in Master’s Academy of Art in Michigan Kranbrug. After graduation, the designer worked for several years in New York.
1985 was a turning point in the career of Tenazy. She established a studio in San Francisco called Tenazass Design. Fields of activity of the studio cover creation of corporate identity, book and magazine design, etc. Tenazass Design created works for renowned companies, including Esprit, Rizzoli Publications, Chronicle Books, and even San Francisco International Airport. Despite the fact that English is not the native language of Tenazas, she does not experience any difficulties in working with the text, feeling fine nuances of language and transferring them in her projects. All the aspects of the work gather into one word and images through a variety of typological and grammatical relations, deftly manipulating the characteristics of English language. Often Tenazas deliberately focuses on parts of words and sentences, placing them in a way that attaches great importance to the entire image. Taking advantage of the large number of works of fine lines, it creates the basis for the text elements which give the overall composition.
Another, no less remarkable feature of the designer’s works is how she uses the effect of superimposing of one image to another. Translucent images and text graphics, intertwined with each other, create a feeling of airiness and lightness. Tenazas conveys the feeling of depth in two-dimensional space incredibly and accurately.
Nowadays, Susan Kare is a very famous graphic artist and designer. She created a lot of elements of the interface of Windows, Macintosh, OS / 2. Susan Kare was born in 1954 in Ithaca, New York. Her brother, Jordi Kare, is a well-known physicist and engineer involved in research in the field of laser engines. In an interview, Susan said that while studying at Harriton High School she worked with designer Harry Lucas, who inspired her own work (typography and graphic design) for further studies in graphic design. She graduated from Harriton High School in 1971, and then in 1975 she received Bachelor degree of Arts at the Mount Holyoke College. In 1978 she received Doctorate in design from New York University. Her doctoral thesis was called Study of the Use of Cartoons as an Example of Individual Sculptures Honore Daumier, and Claes Oldenburg. In 1979, she got a job at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. Susan collaborated with –and made friends with Andy Hertsfeld, programmer and researcher. In 1983, Kare joined the development team and worked in Apple for about 4 years. Kare had never worked with computer graphics before Apple. Nevertheless, she was not afraid of difficulties and quickly achieved success, having studied a large number of books on digital printing. The first job for Apple Susan made in exchange for the Apple II. Susan Kare owns such well-known fonts as Geneva, Monako, Clarus, Dogcow, Happy Mac and Chicago (the font has long remained the “gold standard” for the whole range of classical operating systems of Apple). Keeping in mind the enormous visual associative array of art history, Kare easily created icons for the Macintosh.
Susan Kare owns portraits of authorship icons (32×32 pixels) not only of Steve Jobs, but also of many other employees. In 1985 she went to work in the company Next created by Steve Jobs, where she held the position of creative director. After Next was absorbed by Apple in 1996, Susan Kare decided to leave on her own and opened his own design company. Kare has worked with Microsoft, IBM, SF Water and Power, Glam.com, Paypal, Facebook, and hundreds of others. Today Susan owns a digital design company based in San Francisco. Her works can be purchased at prices ranging from $ 100 to $ 500. She owns a resource kareprints.com. Susan also is working as a volunteer in a program of therapeutic surfing for children with autism and their families. She supports the Monell Chemical Senses Center (a non-profit Center for Monel which studies the sensations that occur under the influence of chemical irritants), where her father worked for more than 45 years.
In conclusion, women played rather important role in the development of the graphic design. Representatives of feministic graphic design shown great results and motivated women to go from the model role to the graphic designers. They include such women as Barbara Bradley, Paula Scher, Sheila Levrant de Brettevillee, Lucille Tenazass, and Susan Kare.