Women in Graphic Design

Whether working with clients or on independent projects, the women graphic designers featured here have made lasting contributions to the field of visual communication. With technological developments in the 20th and 21st centuries, graphic design has become an important vehicle for creative and intellectual expression. The information conveyed by typefaces, book covers, posters, and magazines is the result of deliberate choices made by graphic designers.

Alice Cordelia Morse

Painting of a woman facing forward in a strong stance holding open a large book, with the words "Occupations of Women and Their Compensation" in bold black letters above her head.

A prominent artist of the Arts and Crafts movement, Alice Cordelia Morse (American, 1863–1961) started her career as a glass painter for the firm of Louis C. Tiffany before returning to The Cooper Union for postgraduate training in art and design. She began designing book covers in the late 1880s and quickly became one of the most sought-after artists in the field.


April Greiman

Abstract, collage-like poster with [Your Turn, My Turn, 1983] printed in large red letters across the center. Most of the poster is rendered in offset red and blue, giving the effect of a technological glitch.

Trained at the Kansas City Art Institute, April Greiman (American, born 1948) continued her studies at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Basel, Switzerland. Establishing a studio in Los Angeles, California, in 1976, she became the leading figure of the emergent “NEW WAVE” design movement. Greiman’s transmedia approach to design juxtaposes typography, photography, and other elements.

Elaine Lustig Cohen

Collage of different images such as statues, photographs, and text of different sizes

After the death of her husband Alvin Lustig, Elaine Lustig Cohen (American, 1927–2016) took the reins of his graphic design business. Retaining his clients, she quickly learned how to run the business and became a successful graphic designer herself. Cohen fulfilled numerous commissions before opening the bookstore and gallery Ex Libris with her second husband, Arthur Cohen.

Ilonka Karasz

Cover of The New Yorker featuring a drawing of a crowded trolley passing down a people-filled street lined with giant flags. Title text at the top of the image reads [The New Yorker] with smaller text on either side reading [Sept 2. 1939.] and [Price 15 cents].

Ilonka Karasz (Hungarian, 1896–1981) studied art at the Royal Academy of Arts and Crafts in Budapest, where she was one of the first women to be admitted. After immigrating to the United States in 1913, she became an active member of the New York design scene. Working in a variety of mediums, Karasz is well known for her wall coverings and illustrations.

Rebeca Méndez

A brightly colored floral pattern repeats against a vibrant yellow background. The pattern is overlaid on top of a black and white photograph of a potato, along with several lines of mostly redacted, miniscule black text.

In 1996, Rebeca Méndez (Mexican-American, born 1962) opened her eponymous studio, specializing in film and video installations for cultural programs and institutions, collaborations with architects on interior commissions, photography, book design, and public art. Her practice embodies experimentation, collaboration, and creative integrity. 


Exhibitions Highlighting Women

Rebeca Méndez Selects

In a large room with walls embellished with gilded paint on the decorative ornamentation and a wood inlaid floor, large swatches of fabric of various designs hang over a glass vitrine. An exotic bird with glossy blue feathers and a dramatically long tail is posed standing on a bar and enclosed in a glass vitrine and several large, antique books displayed open. Two large preserved eagles are in another vitrine, lying on their sides. Scroll down to learn more about the exhibition Rebeca Mendez Selects.
Previously on View: October 5 2018 through June 16 2019

Guest curator Rebeca Méndez considers how culture, design, technology, and the natural world have converged throughout history.