Baseline Shift

In this concise collection of essays, Briar Levit recenters the stories of women from graphic design history. From Bea Feitler, whose typographic covers for Ms. look as fresh today as they did in the ’70s; to Angel De Cora, the Ho-Chuck artist whose work is still taught in Native American schools but without attribution, and Margaret Larsen, the San Francisco designer who captured the midcentury aesthetic, Levit and her contributors both correct decades of lost recognition and reframe the design history canon to be more expansive, diverse, and lively.  The collection builds upon Martha Scotford’s wrote her now-seminal 1994 essay, “Neat History/Messy History: Towards An Expanded View of Women In Graphic Design,” a critical appraisal of who gets included in design history books and who gets left out. Scotford wrote that “messy history” avoids linear narratives and genius stories in favor of a distributed history that would include women whose work is often overlooked. (In Meggs History of Graphic Design, Scotford noted, only 15 designers mentioned were women and only nine of those women had their work reproduced in the book!) This work still needs to be done. Fortunately, there are many scholars who are doing it, uncovering the forgotten women from graphic design history and bringing them to a new audience. Thanks to Baseline Shift, these stories are no longer untold.