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One Woman’s Powerful Response to a Lack of Female-identifying Designers

If you can’t join ‘em—beat ‘em

Only a year ago, the Berlin-based designer Svenja Prigge was surprised—and pissed off—to learn that the 2018 jury for Germany’s prestigious 100 Beste Plakate (100 Best Posters) competition was entirely male. “The discussion around gender inclusivity in design is not at all new,” she says, “so I couldn’t believe how unaware the exhibition’s organizers were being.” In response, Prigge launched Posterwomen*, an Instagram account featuring posters created by designers who identify as women or non-binary.

While the account began as a statement, it’s since evolved into an ever-growing network. “It’s helped me to connect to like-minded people all over the world, it’s stimulated personal and professional growth, and it’s helped me fight my own insecurities,” says Prigge.

Last winter, for example, she collaborated with a feminist film festival called Furora to organize a Posterwomen* exhibition in a 1950s Berlin cinema, with Posterwomen* designers creating posters for 15 of the movies playing at the event. “I constantly connect with my community and meet new designers through the platform,” she says. “That’s what I’m ultimately aiming for—to keep the discussion going, and to give female-identifying designers more exposure, reach, and the recognition that they deserve.” She takes submissions via email (info@posterwomen.com) and curates her content based on whether the design reflects the current moment politically, culturally, or from a design point of view.

After the news broke regarding the 100 Beste Plakate entirely male jury, Prigge not only launched her platform, but also shared her outrage on social media, as did many others. Now, this year’s 100 Beste Plakate jury will be entirely female. “I partially take credit for that,” says Prigge, “as should everyone who was part of the discussion. Whether one agrees with an all-female jury or not, it’s a step forward and the competition is making a statement. Personally, I would wish for a diverse group of jurors every year.”

We invited Prigge to tell us about the designers behind five works featured on Posterwomen*.

Aliona Solomadina

For House Without a Roof

One of the winning posters shown at the Furora x Posterwomen exhibition is this design by Aliona Solomadina for the feature-length film House Without Roof by Soleen Yusef. The story follows three siblings returning home to Iraq in order to bury their recently deceased mother. Aliona approached the topic of war and migration in a humane and honest way, and didn’t detract from the seriousness of the topic. She avoids embellishments and finds typographic metaphors to convey the physical and emotional journey depicted in the film.

Louise Borinski

For Fast, Furious & Female

“Berlin-based graphic designer Louise Borinski has just graduated, and she sent a series of bold and strangely beautiful gradient posters to my inbox. Her design for a symposium about inclusivity in the film and media industry, called Fast, Furious & Female, caught my attention. It combines contrasting colours and distorted fonts into a coherent composition, avoiding any visual cliches surrounding gender and feminism.

Dana Barqawi

For A Land Without A People

“The colors and overall composition in this print by Jordan-based Dana Barqawi really resonate. It’s from her series, A Land Without A People. The peaceful, centre composition of Arabic typography, the opaque sunset-colored shapes and photograph of a fisherman in Palestine in the early 20th century contrast the politically charged message of the title, but don’t take away from it.”

Marnie Hamilton

for New Scenery

“This poster by Marnie Hamilton is just one from a series of event posters for New Scenery, a platform for womxn, non-binary, and LGBTQ+ DJs. This particular poster stood out to me because of the graffiti-comic illustration by Laura Herman, which really engages with the event title in an exciting way. It retains it message, but also seems to dance so hard that the poster shakes.”

Marina Muro

for Grito

Marina Muro submitted this poster for Dandara de Morais’ short film Grito for the Furora x Posterwomen exhibition. In Grito, four women share the stories of their experiences with abuse, which began their journey fighting oppression. The poster didn’t make the cut in the curation process, but it’s still my personal favorite. It separates a big, empty speech bubble from the word “Grito!,” meaning “Shout!,” and therefore makes a statement about speaking out. The opaque colors make for a great and bold composition that enhances the political message.”

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