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GDUSA

Graphic Design USA Magazine

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women in design

Our January/February 2015 edition features the annual People To Watch (as in professional designers) and Students to Watch selections. It is an incredibly subjective process in a field loaded with talent and with newsmakers, but we proudly stand by them. The intersection of the two special reports was a question we posed to the professionals: What advice would you give a young designer or recent graduate just starting out?

Interestingly, there was a degree of consensus. The advice in a nutshell: be intentional and purposeful about early career decisions, then be passionate, prepared and work really, really hard.

ashleigh_axios
Photo: White House Photo/Lawrence Jackson

For example, Ashleigh Axios, Creative Director at the Obama White House, advises: “Have a goal; make it something that isn’t easily achievable but will help you push yourself. Hint: your goal should never be to ‘be famous.’”

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Guest Post by John Clifford

Today, women make up around half of the graphic design profession. This wasn’t always the case. I wrote Graphic Icons: Visionaries who Shaped Modern Graphic Design to highlight the pioneers of the field, from El Lissitzky to Stefan Sagmeister. It surprised me that so many of the historic designers I considered influential were male. Fortunately, there were several women who challenged the status quo and paved the way for today’s female designers. Here are a few:

Cipe Pineles  (1908–1991)

Women of GD_Pineles
Charm cover, 1954; Charm fashion spread, 1957

When Cipe Pineles was looking for her first design job in the 1940s, prospective employers were interested in her portfolio—until they learned that the unusual first name belonged to a woman. She kept at it, though, and eventually became art director at Glamour in 1942, the first female to hold that position at a major American magazine.

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Lucia-Eames-2004

Lucia Eames, the only child of American architect and designer Charles Eames and only step-daughter of designer and painter Ray Eames, died April 1 at the age of 83. Born in 1930 to Charles and his first wife, Catherine Woermann, Lucia was an artist, graphic designer, owner of the Eames Office, and founder of the Eames Foundation — not to mention a mother of five.

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The era of objectifying women and judging beauty based on one idealized standard ended a generation or two ago, at least in the public realm and polite society. But consumer advertising people are often the last to know, which may explain why many of them are taking a victory lap — some 20 years late — because of recent ad campaigns such as Dove “Real Beauty” and its progeny.

Dove

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