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Man = art and woman = art & (pardon) industry? The book Women in Graphic Design/Frauen und Grafik-Design 1890-2012

While the share of self-employed women in the economy as a whole is registered with a mere 7%, the share of the same group in the creative industries was somewhere between 40 and 44 % (in 2008). The fields of visual design and communication design were the most important segments for that matter.

Now, how would one go about discussing these facts in regards to social policies, with so many goals of the historic women’s lib movement being seemingly abandoned? No more female quota in the workplaces?

Sure, it's the women that feel particularly drawn towards the creative industries. The work tends to be varied and its inherent structure promotes personal development. Due to the fact that most creative professionals are self-employed and/or work as freelancers, they have a much more flexible schedule, making it easier to juggle family and work as compared to more traditional professions.

When reading the total of 12 interviews with female designers included in 'Women in Graphic Design 1890-2012', it becomes clear the profession demands full-time dedication from everyone, including women.

On an interesting note, despite 'very good dispositions', women play next to no role in the history of design – the celebrity cult is firmly dedicated to only one of the sexes: The Man.

The design associations, which pick out the best amongst their own member base, therefore creating their own 'Hall of Fames', reflect this traditional way of thinking in regards to and perceiving the world of design. A glance into the member list of the Art Director's Club in Germany or the Alliance Graphique International (AGI ) makes the equality of the sexes look like a bad PR gag.

Is this tendency to exclude an unopposed relic of old times, devoid of any deeper meaning – or does it reproduce structures that have not essentially changed much?

Do women care less about the realisation of their personalities, success and fame, like some of the visual designers actually suggest in the interviews? Men are the avant-garde of all professions, while women in the same job are merely brush-carriers? Male creativity meets the 'female colleague from the art industry'?

By means of scientific articles, interviews with visual designers and short monographs, the volume attempts to get to the bottom of these questions. It is the outspoken goal of this project, to examine the underlying structures and dynamics of visual design as an independent branch of the creative industry.

Due to the fact that women's studies and sexual studies only took place in related occupation categories such as fine arts, architecture or product design, this volume attempts to stick up for this particular occupation.

At the same time, this examination – according to the authors – seeks to disprove the widespread assumption of the 'lacking professionalism of female visual designers', which is the reason why women were so neglected in the history of the profession. The focal point of the selection of historic examples lies therefore on the quality of the work and the most successful female representatives of their industry.

Academic articles by: Sabine Bartelsheim, Gerda Breuer, Ute Brüning, Jochen Eisenbrand, Ellen Lupton, Julia Meer, Ada Raev, Bettina Richter, Patrick Rössler, Martha Scotford and Judith Siegmund.

Fonts by Paula Scher, Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, Natalia Goncharova, Ellen Lupton, Martha Scotford, Véronique Vienne, Astrid Stavro, Alissa Walker etc.

Interviews with Irma Boom, Paula Scher, Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, Julia Hoffmann, ›Swiss Miss‹ Tina Roth Eisenberg, Katja M. Becker, Anna Berkenbusch, Heike Grebin, Gisela Grosse, Miriam and Nina Lambert, Iris Utikal and Judith Grieshaber.

Women in Graphic Design/Frauen und Grafik-Design 1890-2012
Gerda Breuer/Julia Meer (Hg.):
Berlin (jovis Verlag) 2012
18 x 23 cm
608 pages with 554 colour and B&W pictures
Deutsch/ English
Euro 42,00 SFr 56,80
ISBN 978-3-86859-153-8