Designing Women: CPL Honors Women in Marketing and Design

Marissa Cohen

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In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8th, Creative Propulsions Lab explores the unmatched creativity of women who have disrupted the marketing/design industry. All of these women changed the design game. Some, like Cipe Pineles and Es Devlin, meshed opposing worlds together, while others, such as April Greiman, made a name for themselves by seeing the positives and possibilities in emerging technologies.

Cipe Pineles


Linking the Worlds of Fine Arts with Mainstream Publishing

Practically the once and future queen of 1930s and 1940s magazine design, Pineles' portfolio included the crème de la crème of women's magazines, including Vogue, Glamour, Vanity Fair, and teen mag giant Seventeen.

Never one to follow the trend, Pineles was the first woman designer to become part of the prestigious Art Directors' Club. She’s also credited with the industry changing choice to incorporate the work of fine artists into the world of magazine publishing. Among the famous artists whom she discovered were Seymour Chwast and Richard Anuskieiwcz.

Often, her only directive to incoming artists was that the work produced for the magazine would be up to the same quality of their gallery work. Pineles’ choice to use fine artists in mainstream publishing was key to demystifying art for a wider audience - and the industry followed her inspired lead.

Susan Kare

Creating Simple, Funny Designs for Computer Technology

Does anyone remember the Sex and the City episode where New York writer Carrie Bradshaw runs into a computer store, clutching her MacBook? “I got the Sad Mac!” she yells in a panic. Uh-oh. Carrie is referring to the Sad Mac icon that appeared on her screen seconds before her computer crashed. (Sorry, Carrie.)

Susan Kare – thanks to her time working for Apple Computer in the early 80s - is responsible for the Sad Mac icon, the Trash Can, the Bomb, and the entire, witty, humorous family of early Macintosh icons, marked by their thick, black font and instantly recognizable style. Who hasn’t frantically clicked on the Save icon, still part of today’s word programs? Kare went on to work for Steve Jobs at NeXT and is still considered a disruptive design force today. Major Macheads can even purchase prints of her beloved icons.

Es Devlin


From High Art to Lady Gaga

With Es Devlin, the world of theater and opera smoothly paved the way to move to pop culture. Unbound by genre conventions, Devlin moves effortlessly back and forth between these two worlds. “My canvas is devoid of light,” says famous stage designer and creative director Es Devlin in the Netflix original series Abstract. “You sort of need to start without light to find it.” That makes sense since Devlin’s canvas is often a stage.

She’s built her career on artistic innovation, as in her first set design for Harold Pinter’s Betrayal where she took a risk and used projections overlaid over the scenes. That sense of sharp, boundless, creative daring has continued: she’s designed for theatrical luminaries such as the Royal Shakespeare Company, both the Old Vic and the Young Vic, the Royal Court Theatre, and many European opera commissions; she’s also transcended traditional theater, working with some of pop music’s biggest stars such as U2, Jay Z, Kanye, and Lenny Kravitz. Devlin was the creative genius behind Lady Gaga’s genre-bending mind trip of a 2009-2010 Monster’s Ball tour.

Currently as of February 2017, Devlin is fresh off designing for Adele, and onto Louis Vuitton’s latest show.

April Greiman


Incorporating Emerging Technology Into Design

Greiman was one of the first designers to truly see emerging computer technology for what it would become: a key tool for graphic artists to clearly express themselves. She’s also known for establishing U.S. punk-influenced New Wave style and artistic expression through pixilation. Many of her pieces are considered iconic, including her late 70s Cal Arts poster that would become a classic representation of the California New Wave.

Like Susan Kare, Greiman also worked with early Macintosh/Apple design, winning the top award in the Mac World’s Masters of Art Competition. Her awards include the Medal of the American Institute of Graphic Arts and the Chrysler Award for Innovation.


Paula Scher

ARTIST SERIES: Paula Scher from Hillman Curtis on Vimeo.

Building a Bold Relationship Between Typography and Design

In the early 1970s, Scher worked for both CBS Records and Atlantic Records, first working in the advertising and promotions department and later becoming the art director for CBS’s cover department, designing iconic covers for everyone from Leonard Bernstein to Boston. Scher wasn’t just creative, winning several Grammy nominations during her time at CBS, she was highly prolific, creating over a hundred album covers a year. The covers often incorporated historic styles of design.

She ‘s been a principal at Pentagram’s New York office since the early 90s. She also used her talent to bring a new sense of identity and branding to The Public Theater: her promos for Savion Glover’s Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk used a style that incorporated graffiti and street typography. She also created the first poster campaign for Central Park’s famous Shakespeare festivals, and used her distinctive logotype and branding to bring new life to the Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Ballet.

What Can We Learn?

What can we learn from these five women? Buck the trends. Don’t be afraid to build new concepts by mixing two opposing spaces together, and bravely step forward into fresh concepts.


Photo Credits

April Greiman Graphic Design Archives

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