Baseline Shift: Untold Stories of Women in Graphic Design History (Paperback)
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Baseline Shift captures the untold stories of women across time who used graphic design to earn a living while changing the world.
Baseline Shift centers diverse women across backgrounds whose work has shaped, shifted, and formed graphic design as we know it today. From an interdisciplinary book designer and calligrapher starting out in Harlem's Renaissance, to the invisible drafters of Monotype's drawing office, the women represented here include auteurs, advocates for social justice, and creators ahead of their time. The fifteen essays in this illustrated collection come from contributors with a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. Baseline Shift is essential reading for students and practitioners of graphic design, as well as anyone with an interest in women's history.
About the Author
Briar Levit is a designer and associate professor of graphic design at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. She conceived of, directed, and produced the feature-length documentary Graphic Means: A History of Graphic Design Production.
"Baseline Shift takes a unique approach that will inform future telling’s of graphic design history….[It] is a quick read, which could easily be devoured by an interested reader in one sitting; however, it deserves to be read slowly and thoughtfully.
- Technical Communications
"If you are looking for a rehash of the women whose work appears frequently in design annuals and exhibitions, look elsewhere. Instead, be sure to read Briar Levit’s Baseline Shift: Untold Stories of Women in Graphic Design History. The essays featured within are not the greatest hits of the greatest-known designers. Rather, most of the names will be unknown to you, and some will even seem a few steps removed from the conventional definition of graphic design."
- The Daily Heller,
"For all the typophiles and hand lettering freaks out there, Baseline Shift: Untold Stories of Women in Graphic Design History is a must not miss....[T]he book includes fifteen essays by experts in the fields of Publishing, Activism Patriotism, Press Production, and Commercial. The topics are as diverse as the world of design."
- Design Arts Daily,
"Unsung heroines are the subject of “Baseline Shift: Untold Stories of Women in Graphic Design History,” a compact but potent series of profiles that, in the words of editor Briar Levit, counter “the mostly male and White history we’ve been presented....A generous handful of other female graphic designers come to life.”
- The Wall Street Journal,
"This book is for students and practitioners of graphic design, but also for anyone with an interest in women’s history (which should mean everyone). Baseline Shift: Untold Stories of Women in Graphic Design History showcases auteurs, advocates for social justice, and creators ahead of their time, from a calligrapher during Harlem’s Renaissance to the invisible drafters of Monotype’s drawing office."
- Fast Company,
"Not only does this book shine a light on so many new-to-me (and probably new-to-you) stories of women in graphic design, but the stories are told by an incredible crew of contemporary design writers who skillfully make these untold stories accessible to a new audience. Baseline Shift is a much-needed book for both inside the design classroom and out."
- Kate Bingaman Burt, illustrator and educator,
"Baseline Shift challenges not only what gender, race, and nationality we think of when we say 'graphic designer' but also how the work gets done and what purpose it serves..Telling this more capacious history is an important step towards a future of expanded possibilities for us all."
- Kelli Anderson, author of This Book Is a Planetarium,
"Honest, bold, and moving! This book reminds us that only when we seek truth, can we destabilize the inequitable power structures that have been built on false narratives. Each page left me feeling emboldened to believe that I, a woman and Black, not only belong in this space, but that many women just like me have existed, albeit hidden in the shadows-until now."
- Kaleena Sales, coauthor of Extra Bold: A Feminist, Inclusive, Anti-racist, Nonbinary Field Guide for Graphic Designers and assistant professor of graphic design at Tennessee State University,
"While the founders of graphic design have long been thought to be exclusively white men, Baseline Shift emphatically and empirically proves otherwise.This book is an absolute must read for anyone curious about the real contributions of the creative people who established the discipline of graphic design."
- Debbie Millman, host of Design Matters and chair of the Masters of Professional Studies in Branding program, School of Visual Arts,
"The designers featured in this book enlarge our knowledge of design history.They join the firmament of notable designers who forged ahead, exploring unique paths that gave them the freedom to determine their own identities. There is a sense of inventiveness and vision that define their work.and by the way, they just happen to be all women."
- Lucille Tenazas, designer and Henry Wolf Professor of Communication Design, Parsons School of Design,
"There's real irony in how little we collectively know about the women who shaped the medium of graphic communication. Baseline Shift showcases the women designers, printers, illustrators, and typesetters who used their skills to drive both industrial and social change, connecting them in a dialogue that illuminates history and resonates in the current day."
- Andi Zeisler, author of We Were Feminists Once,