Pioneering Women of Graphic Design

Tired of the frivolous way in which female readers were portrayed, Cipe Pineles (1908-1991) sought to change the fashion magazine industry from the inside by assuming her audience wanted and deserved much more than they were getting.

“By commissioning fine artists like Ad Reinhardt and Andy Warhol to illustrate articles, Pineles rejected the idealized style typical of magazine illustrations at the time, and exposed her audience to modern art,” writes John Clifford in Graphic Design USA.

Pineles is just one of the creative, forward-thinking designers Clifford profiles in his article, which covers the print fashion industry of the 1940s through current creatives working in print, digital and mixed media.

“Today, women make up around half of the graphic design profession. This wasn’t always the case,” Clifford notes. “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.”

Interestingly, many of these women found their niche at times of dramatic social or technological change. Pineles was the first female member of the Art Directors Club, after breaking the glass ceiling at Glamour in 1942 and becoming the first woman to hold the AD position at any major U.S. magazine.

April Greiman found that the growing use of digital in design offered the creative landscape she needed to thrive in the late 1980s, while the PC/Apple revolution helped Zuzana Licko carve out her genius.

The truly great among us thrive in uncertain and changing times. By putting those creative minds to work around obstacles, limitations and driving forces, innovation takes a leap forward. We applaud them all.