Close your eyes and picture the stereotypical graphic designer: cool shoes, square glasses, maybe a tattoo or two… and probably a man. Although 54% of designers in the the US are women, the ones we know and talk about are often men.
So in honor of International Women’s Day, we’ve pulled together some of the great women designers of the past and present to give them the recognition they deserve!
Let’s add these 13 leading women to the list of designers you need to know.
1. Carolyn Davidson
If there ever was a surprising “secret” in the design world, it’s that perhaps one of the most famous logos of all time, the Nike logo, was designed by a woman that no one knows – Carolyn Davidson. It was originally contracted for a mere $35 dollars (roughly $200 today).
2. Paula Scher
Paula Scher, partner and first female principle of Pentagram, was an innovator of typography, layout and color in graphic design. Note her bold and powerful style which displays firm control and intention regarding color and typography.
3. Kelli Anderson
Current designer Kelli Anderson is one of the modern masters of digital typography. Notice the attention to detail, color, and light in these custom letterforms!
4. Susan Kare
Susan Kare is a hugely significant figure in icon design, having designed internationally recognizable symbols for Apple, Microsoft, and PayPal. You’d be surprised about how many icons you’d recognize on her website!
5. Candy Chang
Taiwanese-American artist Candy Chang enters the public sphere with her designs. In the example above she creates a masterful composition displaying deep understanding of proportion and public space.
6. Melissa Buchanan
Coming from the world of silkscreen and the inherent qualities within, Melissa Buchanan specializes in colorful creature compositions which carry a style that is unmistakably hers.
7. Scarlett Duba
Scarlett Duba, senior designer at Pirtle Design, is a force in the print design world. Among other clients, she has done countless covers for Vassar, which feature concise and well executed concepts.
8. Teresa Sdralevich
Teresa Sdralevich, freelance poster cover designer from Brussels, perhaps could be said to have picked up where Saul Bass left off, using bold shapes and color pallets that are imperfect and carry a human element.
9. Fanette Mellier
Fanette Mellier is another female designer coming from the realm of silk screen. As you can see above, her prints are immaculate, and quite simply mind blowing. The sheer intention and perfection in execution is jaw dropping and deeply inspiring. I highly recommend thoroughly exploring her website! You won’t regret it.
10. Mercedes Bazan
Mercedes Bazan of San Francisco is a true master of Feng Shui when it comes to print design and layout. The example above is just one display of her ability to tap into a visceral flow of typography that feels natural and just so right.
11. Sue Doeksen
Sus Doeksen of Amsterdam is a true sight for sore eyes in that she is perhaps one of the few prominent designers today still working in the wonderful medium of cut paper. Mind you, this was the medium that design heavyweight Paul Rand used in nearly all his designs, and is also a medium that was sadly lost for the most part in the coming of digital tools. There is something that can’t quite be replicated about it on a computer and for that reason I highly recommend checking out Sue Doeksen’s portfolio.
12. Laura Pol
Creator of her own visual language, Laura Pol is a true perfectionist in the realm of print design and layout. Notice her sideways captions penetrating into the geometric images; a unique and excellent touch.
13. Marta Veludo
Marta Veludo is another female designer who has put a strong footprint in the world of print design, revolutionizing many subtleties of print making, including the wonderful neon gradients featured above.
Women in design… and beyond?
Bet you didn’t know women are such a force in the design world! The women featured above are not the only female designers out there, either, but they are certainly some of the pioneers. And in many ways, the design industry is ahead of the curve in terms of gender equality. In a survey of women entrepreneurs, 99designs found that men were two times as likely to have raised $100k in funding. Rock on, awesome lady designers! Keep on making the world a more beautiful and equitable place.
What other famous women designers do you want to add to the list? Share below in the comments!
This article was originally published in 2016 and has been refreshed and updated.