The Influence of Women on Graphic Design Over the Last 100 Years

Grace Fussell

Graphic design hasn’t always had the best reputation for gender equality. It’s a traditionally male-dominated industry, and most of the best-known designers discussed in articles and books today are men.

However, women have played an equally significant role in shaping graphic design as we know it today. To celebrate the centenary of the British suffrage movement, here we’ll look at the influence of women on graphic design, decorative arts and digital illustration over the past 100 years.
The Suffrage Era and Protest Art

Before graphic design was formalised as a profession, related fields such as decorative arts, fashion design and art were still heavily dominated by men.

However, at the turn of the 20th century, women were starting to cause ripples socially, and early forms of graphic design played a part in making these ripples expand. Poster design and caricature were practiced by many, mostly male, artists, but in Britain the suffragettes quickly realised that they too could use this medium to further their cause for gaining voting equality.

Artist Hilda Dallas designed some of the posters in support of the suffrage movement. In fitting with the Art Nouveau style that was widely popular at the time, these posters presented an optimistic vision of equality.

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Grace Fussell
Grace is a graphic designer and design writer. She has provided design and branding services for clients across a broad range of industries, including publishing and exhibitions.