Women Who Designed Movements

Happy International Women’s Day! This global holiday began in 1909 and continues to be celebrated 100 years later. In honor of a day all about the achievements of women, we wanted to highlight five incredible women behind the designs of powerful movements, demonstrations, and/or protests. Their designs were held high by those who believed in an important cause or criticized by those who opposed their message. Regardless, their designs sparked strong emotions for thousands and will be remembered for ages to come.

Nicole LaRue – Women’s March

Chronicle Books Blog

The 2016 presidential election followed by the inauguration of President Donald Trump sparked the largest single day protest in U.S. history. The 2017 Women’s March resulted in millions of people all over the country taking to the streets to defend women’s rights, racial equality, LGBTQ rights and so on. Nicole LaRue, a Portland-based designer, worked alongside Big Monocle Creative Agency and Creative Director Wolfgang Strack to create the iconic logo for the Women’s March. In an interview with Chronicle Books Blog, she mentions that she only had a few hours to create the design and only submitted one design total. Her logo design has become the face of one of the largest resistance movements in U.S. history and will continue to be a symbol of solidarity for human rights.

Deva Pardue – For All Womankind

Deva Pardue Deva Pardue Twitter

Deva, current creative director at The Wing, started her passionate project For All Womankind after the 2016 presidential election. For All Womankind is a “design initiative for fempowerment”  that raises money for a multitude of women’s charities like Emily’s List. Before the 2017 Women’s March, Deva designed an iconic poster of feminine clenched fists which quickly went viral. Deva made her Femme Fists poster readily available as a PDF which resulted in the thousands of downloads and multiple sightings of the posters in Women’s Marches across the country. In an interview with Design Week last year, Deva said the powerful poster came to life after she realized that “there were no feminine-looking clenched fists.” Since then, the fempowerment design and the For All Womankind initiative has grown, with over 50k followers on Instagram.

Lorraine Schneider – War is Not Healthy

Boyle Heights History Blog

Like any mother, Lorraine was fearful of her son being drafted during the Vietnam War. Her concern for her son and the Vietnam War as a whole was her inspiration for Primer, a small etching and her own “small picket sign” which she entered into a print show in 1967. The etching showcased a sunflower surrounded by the words “war is not healthy for children and all living things.” Small, but powerful, Lorraine wanted to convey a message of hope surrounded by the reality of war. A few months after her creation of Primer, Lorraine attended a meeting with other women to discuss what can be done to protest the Vietnam War. At that meeting, the women decided to send a thousand Mother’s Day cards to Washington to ask for peace. Lorraine’s sunflower design was the face of the cards and soon became the face of the advocacy and anti-war group, Another Mother for Peace. Lorraine’s Primer design will forever be an iconic reminder of the negative impacts of war.

Barbara Kruger – Your Body is a Battleground

Galerie Magazine

In 1989, the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established basic abortion rights was threatened to be overturned. Barbara Kruger, known for not only her unique designs but also her activism through her work, created the above iconic poster for the 1989 pro-choice Women’s March on Washington. The silkscreen design, (Untitled) Your body is a battleground, was designed by Barbara in support of reproductive freedom. According to the Harvard Crimson, the design reflects how “the campaign for a woman’s right to choose occurs outside of her body, yet directly affects her. The female body becomes a combat zone that women both struggle for and in.” With Roe v. Wade still being threatened decades later, Barbara’s design continues to be used as a battle cry by pro-choice activists.

Monica Helms – Transgender Flag

We Are Transilient

After President Trump’s 2017 tweet stating that “the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” the transgender community and their allies spoke up to defended the most vulnerable. Transgender flags were flown and shared across social media along with words of solidarity. The blue, pink, and white flag was created by Monica Helms, a transgender veteran impacted by the words of the president. According to a Fast Company article, Monica’s design for the flag “emulates the broad stripes and alternating colors of the LGBT Rainbow Flag, but alternates light pink and light blue, the traditional color for baby boys and girls, with a white middle stripe for those who are intersex, transitioning, or consider themselves to have a neutral or undefined gender. The unadorned design is such that “no matter which way you fly it, it is always correct, signifying us finding correctness in our lives.”” Monica Helm’s transgender flag design was first flown at the 2000 Phoenix, Arizona Pride parade and has flown for the transgender community ever since.

These are just a few of so many incredible women who are changing the world. This International Women’s Day, we want to celebrate every single woman who has stood up for something they believed in and became a part of something bigger. This day, and every day, is for you.

By Cynthia De La Torre
Published March 8, 2019