A Peek into the more recent RGD Book Club Meeting
Bianca Jozwiak RGD and Rupsha Mutsuddi Provisional RGD share some of the conversation on Extra Bold: A Feminist, Inclusive, Anti-Racist, Non-Binary Field Guide for Graphic Designers.
The RGD's virtual Book Club convened its second meeting in March. Extra Bold: A Feminist, Inclusive, Anti-Racist, Non-Binary Field Guide for Graphic Designers features 7 co-authors and 30+ diverse contributors. Co-authors, Ellen Lupton and Kaleena Sales joined the discussion as guest speakers.
Ellen Lupton is an accomplished graphic designer, writer, critic and educator who holds the Betty Cooke and William O. Steinmetz Design Chair at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Her passion for typography is well-known and she is currently working on the third edition of Thinking with Type.
Kaleena Sales is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design and Chair of the Department of Art & Design at Tennessee State University. Her research and design writing focus on Black culture and aesthetics. She is currently pursuing her doctorate degree based on the essays she researched and wrote for Extra Bold.
The conversation began with an exploration of the genesis of the idea behind Extra Bold. Ellen recounted how she met the creators of the exhibit at Pratt Institute, which inspired the concept for the book.
One of the most crucial considerations for the co-authors was that the book should go beyond the male/female binary and include various intersectionalities such as race and ability. To achieve this goal, they hired a thoughtful editor to review the entire book pre-production to address language usage issues. Ellen and Kaleena emphasized the importance of this approach and discussed the editor's significant contribution to the project. “She was really rigorous and created a whole stylesheet that the book had to be edited to make sure it followed,” said Ellen.
Then Book Club Members had the opportunity to ask questions. One of the questions asked was about the co-authors' favourite parts of writing the book. Ellen cited her collaboration with Josh Halsted, which allowed them to discuss the philosophy and politics of disability. Kaleena highlighted the section on Confidence Equity, saying “When I read that [section], I thought about the connection between positionality and power and the kind of social responsibility that builds confidence in some people versus others”.
Extra Bold has also had a transformative impact on Kaleena and Ellen's approach to teaching. “Since I am teaching, I’m much more intentional about inclusive language and examples and I’ve been careful not to extract from my students but give them tools and knowledge. The intention is to give back to my community and my students,” offered Kaleena. Ellen shared, “It’s really changed the way I teach…and the idea of expanding the canon. I just can’t approach teaching the way I did 10 years ago and to just be deliberately inclusive in terms of examples, voices and sources.”
The Book Club then broke into small group discussions to discuss questions shared by group facilitators. These questions included responding to the different historical narratives presented in the book and the beautiful thought-provoking illustrations by Jennifer Tobias. Additionally, questions asked Members to think critically about their role in the deconstruction of systematic bias and binary thinking while also considering their role for advocating for accessibility, diversity, equity and inclusion.
Members shared that many of the narratives presented in the book are ones they’d never read about or been exposed to before in the context of their own design history education. Many thought that the book was a great resource to keep on hand and refer to while they navigate through their day-to-day. We discussed two illustrations from the book in detail, the Social Construction Zone graphic and the Workplace Culture Illustrations pictured below. These illustrations broke down complex concepts into easy-to-understand visual representations.
Social Construction Zone Illustration
Workplace Culture Illustration
Within the context of our discussions about changing previous inequitable landscapes related to diversity, inclusion and accessibility, our Members were hopeful seeing many hiring practices change in the past few years. These included the adoption of blind hiring processes and an intentional search for diverse voices within the company-makeup. However, there was an overall realization that more must be done and books like Extra Bold are a positive step in widening the horizon for change within the Design Industry.
The RGD's Book Club meets again on May 9 to discuss and share insights on the book Thee Conscious Creative: Practical Ethics for Purposeful Work. Author Kelly Small RGD will join the meeting.
Get details to receive 15% off on the book and register for the upcoming meeting here.
The Virtual Book Club is open to all professional Members of the RGD, including Certified RGD, Provisional RGD, Affiliate and Junior Affiliate Members.
The RGD Book Club, a Membership Committee initiative, launched in January 2023. The goal is to share the love of literature and design books in a positive nurturing environment. We also aim to bring the RGD community together to learn and read a variety of design books, virtually meet and ask questions to authors, help Members develop skills and socialize with fellow designers.
Bianca Jozwiak RGD is an Intermediate Graphic Designer for Plan International Canada. As a Certified RGD, Bianca is always keen on advocating for better accessibility practices, diversity, equity and inclusion and bringing youth voices to the forefront of advocacy and decision making. She is passionate about designing with empathy and in her spare time, likes to dabble in all sorts of creative hobbies, some which include miniatures, rug tufting and baking croissants.
Rupsha Mutsuddi Provisional RGD is a Multi-Disciplinary Designer and Design Researcher. She is currently a Graduate Researcher at the Social and Technological Systems (SaTs) Lab with the York University School of Arts, Media, Performance and Dance. Rupsha is pursuing her Masters of Design at York and her SSHRC supported thesis focuses on designing multi-modal prompts that incorporate rituals and habits for people with early stage dementia and/or mild cognitive impairment. Rupsha is an avid reader and loves frequenting local bookstores for hidden treasures.