Graphic designers are generally invisible as the authors of their own work. A deliberate effort to self-promote must be made in order for them to be seen and acknowledged. The collaborative nature of design, associations with clients, and the involvement of production teams further hinders an individual graphic designer’s visible authorship. However, gender also has a major influence on the invisibility of women in the history of this industry. Historically, the most celebrated practising graphic designers in Australia have been men, as evidenced by their overwhelming presence in books and on award platforms. My research has explored and addressed the key factors that cause this gendered inequity, including the representation and understanding of the name ‘graphic design’, the biases in historical narratives, and the disparate understandings of ‘success’ and ‘significant contributions’.
Applied research, in the form of four multi-model communication design projects, has been conducted to explore and address these issues. These are the Postcard Project (project one), the Slushie Installation (project two), the Anonymity Exhibition (project three), and the #afFEMatjon Website (project four). Using the theoretical lenses of feminism and building on existing literature I have validated my findings through the use of surveys, interviews, and the collation of data sets. Each of these major projects and accompanying methodologies quantify the visibility of women in Australian graphic design. In addition, this project advocates for women’s visibility on award platforms and in historical narratives, and in classrooms. The project collects, analyses, and validates the individual experiences of women in the graphic design industry. Comparisons are made regarding these findings in relation to academic and professional contexts, such as publishing, advertising, and within studios.
New knowledge and insights are embodied in the creation of the designed outcomes. These include two distinct frameworks aimed at improving processes of power—the Framework for Gender Equitable Award Platforms and the Framework for Gender Equitable Histories. In addition, the Autonomous Comfort Zone Survey which is a tool that produced new primary research regarding the experience of individual Australian women graphic designers. These outcomes, plus the aforementioned four major projects, have been disseminated through many traditional and non-traditional channels. Each of these projects has been measured, using alt-metrics to determine the exposure, reach, and impact of the visibility they have created for women in Australian graphic design. This data has been comparatively mapped to demonstrate the large number of people exposed to the findings. It has also been qualitatively analysed to reveal the positive change that these outcomes have begun to make both within and beyond Australian graphic design.