See Red Women's Workshop Feminist Posters 1974-1990
I received See Red Women's Workshop Feminist Posters 1974-1990 from my husband right after my birthday last year, which coincided with both the Presidential Inauguration and the Women's March of 2017. He knows my passion for feminism, human rights, and art collaboration. I've never learned to screenprint, but I love poster design and letterpress, so this book is very special to me.
See Red Women’s Workshop was founded in London in 1974 by women "interested in forming a group to look at and combat the negative images of women in advertising and the media." A collective of like-minded women came together to share skills of design and printmaking and found community in a culture that did not value their contributions but demanded their marginalization through unpaid domestic labor as well as unfair wages outside the home. The posters produced over sixteen years were intended to shatter the current "common sense" of the times. By mass producing their clear direct messages, the goal was to make these "radical" ideas the social norm.
Causes of women's liberation, reproductive freedom, sex education, racial equality, gay rights, and refugee aid, were championed through flyposting, brochures, calendars, stickers and booklets. "For a poster to be effective the message had to be immediately understood - a simple image, an eye-catching heading and as few words as possible."
Much of the content of the poster design is still relevant today. Sorry as it is that women still face a world that fears their sexuality, seeks to control their bodies and does not place full economic value on their minds or labor, it is satisfying to pick up this collection of original designs and connect with so many other women through it.
The book was written by some of the original founding members of See Red, and the story of their history is a nutritious compelling read. Concept sketches are included for several of the final pieces, as well as supporting text with the backstory and design choices explaining the intent of the designers.
With the 2018 Women's March next weekend, this book inspired me to use some of the imagery on my outfit. I used Sublime Stitching ink transfer pens to copy one of the posters onto tracing paper, and then ironed the ink onto the back of last year's Ghostbuster costume. Then the fabric paint came out, and after some careful painting, I have some striking wearable art.