Celebrating the Legacy of Women in Graphic Design

Posted on March 12, 2023

The field of graphic design has seen the contributions of countless talented individuals, but unfortunately, women have often been underrepresented and undervalued in the industry. In honor of Women’s History Month, we will take a closer look at some of the most influential women in graphic design, their contributions, and the challenges they faced.

Sylvia Harris

 sylvia harris graphic design
Sylvia Harris was among many renowned Women of Color in the graphic design industry: Creative Repute

Sylvia Harris was a graphic designer and educator known for her work in the field of information design. Harris was a pioneer in the use of design to improve communication and access to information, particularly in the areas of health care and public services. She founded the firm Sylvia Harris LLC, later known as Citizen Research and Design, and was also a professor of information design at the Parsons School of Design in New York. Harris was a trailblazer in the field of information design, and her work has had a lasting impact on the industry. Read more.

Paula Scher

paula scher graphic designer
Paula Scher received the Special President’s Award from D&AD

Paula Scher is a prominent graphic designer known for her bold typography, vibrant colors, and innovative use of imagery. Scher’s work has been featured in numerous exhibitions and museums, and she has received multiple awards for her work. Despite being one of the most successful graphic designers of our time, Scher has faced challenges as a woman in the industry. She has spoken openly about the discrimination she faced early in her career, such as being told that she was too emotional to succeed in the field. Her contributions include not only her design work but also her willingness to address issues of gender-based discrimination. Read more.

Cheryl D. Miller

cheryl miller graphic design
Cheryl D. Miller forged the path toward a more inclusive design industry— Eye on Design

Cheryl D. Miller is a graphic designer, artist, and writer who has been credited with breaking down racial barriers in the field of graphic design. Miller began her career in the 1960s when the design industry was dominated by white males. She was one of the few Black women in the industry at that time and often faced discrimination and prejudice. However, Miller refused to be discouraged and used her talents and creativity to pave the way for other Black women in the field. Read more.

Louise Fili

louise fili graphic design
Louise Fili: Habitat

Louise Fili is known for her elegant typography and intricate illustrations. She began her career in the 1970s as an art director for various publishing companies and later started her own design firm. Fili’s work has been featured in numerous exhibitions and publications, and she has won many awards for her contributions to the field. Like Scher, Fili has spoken publicly about being dismissed and undervalued by some in the industry because of her gender. However, despite those challenges, she has become highly regarded in her field. Read more.

Ebony Bolt

ebony bolt graphic design
Ebony Bolt: Hudson River Museum

Ebony Bolt is known for her work in the field of editorial design. Bolt has participated in a wide range of projects, including the design of several magazines, and her work has appeared in numerous exhibitions and publications. Bolt is a rising star in the field of graphic design and has become an inspiration to many young designers, particularly young Black women. Read more.

April Greiman

april greiman graphic design
April Greiman on communicating with space for Friedman Benda’s “Design in Dialogue” from Designbloom

April Greiman is recognized for her innovative use of digital technology and typography. She began her career in the 1970s and was one of the first graphic designers to adopt digital design tools. Greiman has received multiple awards for her contributions to the field, and her work has appeared in numerous exhibitions and publications. She joins Scher and Fili in speaking openly about the challenges of gender discrimination in the design field. Read more.

Luba Lukova

luba lukova graphic design
Design as a catalyst for change: Luba Lukova comes to MODA via ArtsAtl

Luba Lukova is known for her bold and thought-provoking designs. She began her career in the 1980s and has since worked on a wide range of projects, including posters, book covers, and editorial illustrations. Lukova’s work has appeared in numerous exhibitions and publications, and she has won many awards. She joins the list of pioneering graphic designers with the courage to speak publicly about the challenges facing women in the design industry. Read more.

Njoki Gitahi

Njoki Gitahi graphic design
Njoki Gitahi: 54kibo

Njoki Gitahi is a Kenyan graphic designer who is known for her work in the field of social design. She has worked on numerous projects aimed at creating social change, particularly in the areas of education and health care. She has been recognized for her work both in Kenya and internationally, and her designs have had a significant impact on the communities she works with. Gitahi is a trailblazer in the field of social design and an inspiration to young designers everywhere. Read more.

Emily Oberman

Emily Oberman graphic design
Emily Oberman, FITC19: Flickr

Emily Oberman is known for her playful and colorful designs. Her work involves branding, advertising, and editorial design and has been widely exhibited. She has won many awards for her contributions to the field. She has also been an advocate for diversity and inclusivity in the industry, speaking publicly about the need for more inclusion and opportunities for underrepresented groups. Read more.

Wangechi Mutu

Wangechi Mutu graphic design
The Mythical Power of Wangechi Mutu: Sotheby’s Magazine

Wangechi Mutu is a Kenyan-American artist and designer recognized for her intricate collages and sculptures. Beginning her career in the 1990s, she has become one of the world’s most sought-after artists. Mutu’s work explores themes of identity, gender, and race, and it has appeared in a wide range of publications and exhibitions. She has also advocated for women in the arts, stressing the need for more representation of underserved groups. Read more.

These women and many others have made significant contributions to the field of graphic design, despite the gender discrimination they have faced. Their work has inspired countless designers and artists and has helped to shape the industry into what it is today.

The art world recognizes that much work still needs to be done before women can receive the same opportunities and recognition as their male counterparts across the industry at large. The design community has responded to this need by creating organizations and initiatives that promote the active participation of women in design. For example, AIGA Women Lead is a program that aims to address gender inequality in the design industry and provides resources and support for women designers. Other organizations, such as Ladies, Wine & Design, provide a platform for women to connect, collaborate, and share their experiences.

As we celebrate and honor Women’s History Month, we acknowledge that the road to a more inclusive graphic design industry is not an easy one, but it’s one worth traveling so that the field of graphic design can survive and thrive in the years to come.

Atlanta-based graphic design agency Badie Designs LLC specializes in creating innovative marketing, UX/UI design, and branding solutions for a broad spectrum of organizations. Contact us today for a consultation.

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