Hidden Women talk at the Peckham Pelican

As an female design student, I was keen to attend the Hidden Women of Design talk to hear women talk about their work and gain more understanding of their experience working as designers in the industry. Hidden Women of Design is a project which organises curated talks celebrating the talent of female designers and questioning why many are still unheard of.

Designers are often the leaders of their own projects, being confident in pitching ideas and selling your own concepts is essential. However in the workplace, there are traditionally more men in leadership roles, which can lead successful women to be victims of ‘impostor syndrome’, or the feeling of being undeserving and unworthy of one’s accomplishments.

Coming to the event I expected these women to talk about the struggles they faced as female designers, and the challenges of the industry. Instead, they simply talked about their own personal careers and the different paths they followed, each of them specialising in a different area of design:

Emma Parnell is a Service Designer at Snook. Passionate about Design Thinking, she started off her career being a Packaging Designer. She talked about her process of discovering what she really wanted to do by first figuring out what she didn’t want to do. Through Service Design, she observed people’s behaviours and experiences and learnt how to make their lives easier. Her career change was inspired by a wish to create change by Design, which Packaging Design wasn’t enabling her to do.

Eleni Beveratou is a Font Developper at Dalton Maag. After completing a Bachelors in Communication Design and a Masters in Book Design, she forced herself to explore typography, a discipline she wasn’t interested in at all to start with. Through her course she learnt how to look for good type and understand type, developing a passion for it. She is also part of an organisation called Alphabettes which is a mentorship program that promotes the work of women in Type, seeking to empower women through the platform. Eleni’s design philosophy is challenging herself to explore what interests her the least.

Suki Heather is an Experience Designer and the Creative Director at AKQA Creative Agency. She is interested in the relationship between Design and Technology, working on how we can experience information better. She has led a variety on different projects including poster designs for a BBC show which move away from traditional airbrushed aesthetics, unreadable Type design and Type that distorts with voice, a website design that doesn’t have a home page, and many other ideas that push the boundaries of conventional Design. She encourages designers to not think traditionally about their work, and instead bring their own perspective and personality to challenge it. Suki also talked about her position as a Creative Director, often being the only senior female in meetings. Her work ethic is to put your head down and work hard, constantly working on personal side projects as well.

I felt inspired and empowered after listening to the talks, all three women showed enormous strength and ambition. I anticipated hearing horror stories about sexism in the design industry but hearing positive stories about successful careers instead made me feel hopeful and excited for my future career, although the gender imbalance in leadership roles will inevitably require women to work harder to achieve high positions. I admire the work of Hidden Women of Design, as I think female perspective in Design is essential, and the fact that these talks represent successful designers empowers young female designers to be ambitious and hard working too.

Illustrations by me

Self Initiated Brief – final outcome

My final outcome: three A5 24 page zines inspired by three different modern classics.

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Zine based on ‘A Clockwork Orange’ by Anthony Burgess

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Zine based on ‘To The Lighthouse’ by Virginia Woolf

 

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Zine based on ‘The Virgin Suicides’ by Jeffrey Eugenides

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Hand drawn type

I have been practicing hand drawn typography as part of my zine project, mainly using ink and dry brushes. I thought it would go well with ‘A Clockwork Orange’ as it can look quite aggressive and loud.

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Here is the final alphabet I made out of these type experiments:

hand drawn type

Risograph experiments

As part of my current zine project I decided I would experiment with risograph printing, as I think it fits the format of a zine well.  First I used some of the images I created for my ‘A Clockwork Orange’ zine:

Although I liked the prints on their own, I decided not to use this method for my zine as the colour didn’t come out as bright as I wanted it to. I did however like the grainy effect and the slight shift in the layers on certain prints.

I decided to do more experiments with other images I had and played around with colours and overlays:

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I am quite happy with these experiments as I have been wanting to try riso for a long time. It is a fast method of producing work.

Drawing in motion workshop

The walk along Southbank is a good place to practice drawing movement. We had to draw the structures of the buildings in one medium and the movement in another. I think watercolour expresses movement quite well, I chose red and orange tones to show the heat of bodies moving in the city.

I tried several techniques, at first just drawing the bodies and then tracing their movements across the page (inspired by Charlie Ford’s drawings)

To The Lighthouse – scenery research

One of the books I have chosen to base a zine on for my self initiated project is To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. It is set in the Isle of Skye in Scotland. In October last year I went to Islay with my family, which has very similar scenery. The house we stayed in also happened to be a few feet away from a lighthouse, so I have decided to base my imagery on the pictures I took of Islay.

Visual stories inspiration

I thought I would share the starting point to my self initiated project.

I attended a talk at LCC by Alice Twemlow, a writer educator and critic whose work focuses on Graphic Design theory. She talked about book design and especially ‘The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne. She talked about a particular squiggle that caught her attention (see the one below)

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That then got me thinking about clever design and typography in books. I looked through my own bookshelf and found a very old edition from the 50s of Alice in Wonderland that belonged to my grandmother. I found quite a few interesting playful uses of typography in it, and I especially liked the letters mimicking the tail of a mouse. This inspired me to experiment with type and storytelling for this project.

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Zine workshop

Our afternoon of drawing at the National Gallery was followed by a zine workshop. We had to use the drawings we made at the gallery and turn them into a zine that reflected our experience of that visit. As I am currently working on my portfolio for DPS, I decided I wanted my zine to be one of the projects I would use in it. I was quite excited about making a zine because it is something I have been meaning to do for a long time and I attempted a few times, and failed to ever complete them.

My zine is about how emotion and intentions can be read in the hands we see in paintings. Especially in renaissance paintings, where poses are usually quite dramatic. I used a quote by Michel de Montaigne which I thought was very fitting of that theme and turned it into a poster to have on the back of my zine.

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