Looking back over my blog I am horrified, and embarrassed, to discover just how
few women have featured. Men have always dominated the world of graphic design
and even now there are still very few design groups formed or headed up by women.
Marriage and children tend to curtail or compromise their creative pursuits. A
sad loss to the world of design.
During my many years running a design consultancy I witnessed so many talented female designers fading away the moment they had children. The demands, both physical and emotional, took them on another path, never to return.
But in the world of illustration there are many supremely talented female practitioners beavering away, often with children tugging at their skirts.
Here are three such women (two of whom I know well) who are hugely gifted, leaving highly personal fingerprints on everything they produce. They also share commonalities with one another. All three attended the Royal College of Art. All use hand-drawn lettering and collage as integral parts of their work, and all have won the V&A Illustration Award.
Sara doesn't like being photographed
Above is the wonderful Sara Fanelli, winner of many accolades including two V&A Illustration Awards and two D&AD Silvers. She also has the unique distinction of being the very first female illustrator to be made an Honorary Royal Designer for Industry, presented by the Royal Society of Arts. And this is why:
5 million people file past Sara Fanelli's Tate Modern Artist Timeline wall
The cover and spreads from her book, Sometimes I Think, Sometimes I am
Millennium stamp for Royal Mail
Above the cover and spreads from her recent book, The Onion's Great Escape
The cover for Pinokkio
Experiencing Sara’s work is a tiny glimpse into her highly imaginative, eccentric and magical mind.
This is Laura, I think she likes being photographed
The second of my trio is Laura Carlin, another V&A-awarded illustrator. She was also awarded with the Quentin Blake Award two years running and the 2004 National Magazine Award, amongst many others. Her work is thoughtful, sensitive, inventive and always beautiful:
Spreads for Journal newspaper with Studio Dempsey
For The New York Times Magazine
Above assorted images from Laura's prolific output
I have had the pleasure of working with Laura on many occasions and the experience has always been sublime. In addition to her beguiling illustration work, she has, over the past three years or so, thrown herself into making ceramics, producing a wonderful array of pots, dishes and figures.
Above Laura's foray into the world of ceramics
Complete book Le Grand Meaulnes
Laura's work has a highly sophisticated naivety, which directly touches 20thcentury British art and 1960s illustration, a period that she finds very inspiring.
Marion photographed by Tom of Brighton in her Islington studio
The final member of this talented trio is Marion Deuchars, another winner of a V&A Award along with a mantelpiece more. As with Sara and Laura she has made hand lettering a part of her work, and in Marion’s case it’s a very big part. I think her unique calligraphic style has been exposed to more people than anyone I know - well, apart from Sara's.
Just four of many book covers and jackets by Marion
Marion is the closest of the three to a graphic designer in her approach. She knows exactly where to place a seemingly random mark or splat to create impact, and when to use space to engender tension.
Marion's hand lettering graced the Shakespeare stamps, in collaboration with Hat Trick
In recent years Marion has embarked on engaging with children through her two highly successful books Let’s Make Some Great Art and Let’s Make Some Great Fingerprint Art. They have a wonderful immediacy through her handwriting and bold brush illustrations.
Above: the two highly successful books to get children away from the TV and towards the drawing pad
So there we have it. Three women. Three distinctive styles bringing enormous joy to our lives. Long may they continue.