notamuse [aka: Not a Muse] is a project that investigates the visibility of women in graphic design. It’s a compilation of graphic works by more than 50 female designers working in Europe, complete with interviews on graphic design, working life, motherhood and feminism. The authors are the designer-trio Silvia Baum, Claudia Scheer and Lea Sievertsen, who came up with the idea of making female creators more visible in the graphic design industry and pointing out the gender imbalance that exists among designers.
This publication started as a crowdfunding project on Kickstarter; people could support it by buying the book notamuse or a fan set [ copy of the book, a fancy red tote bag, a handwritten thank-you card, six stickers, and an A2 poster (folded into A4]. Another channel of output for the project is notamuse.de, an alternative for those who cannot get their hands on a physical copy. The website offers the opportunity to compare each designer’s answers to all the various questions, sorted by topic. Provided along with this, is information on the specific designers and design studios, with brief descriptions and contact details.
If we ask ourselves why feminism is so important, not only in the graphic design industry but in every sector, we encounter a lot of problems that women have to face everyday. And every woman has much to tell.
One quote in particular that has stuck with me is that of Anna Haas: “In my profession, I don’t consider myself a woman. I just love my job.” And another message from that interview, which I believe is important for everybody: “Do not understand yourself as a competitor. Exchange, support each other and join together.” Let’s look at our way of working, the quality and the ideas, not whether it is done by a man or woman.
By now, the gender ratio of graphic designers has become a bit more balanced. There are more female students studying graphic design at university. They will become designers and will inspire and support each other to pursue their careers. Graphic design, as a profession, is not gender-specific, but the question remains as to whether the obstacles have something to do with its practice. We should build gender diversity and change societal stereotypes.
A great deal of work went into this project: the collection of material, the search for female designers, composing the right questions and getting answers that resonate deeply within us all.
I recommend this book as essential reading, for becoming familiar with female graphic designers and the current problems they face within the graphic design industry. We should be more concerned about the issues women experience in their working life and support design equality platforms. Regardless of gender, it is necessary to know about women in graphic design today and those who are on their way to becoming them.author of the text: Veronika Ballová