When I was given Ruth Ansel as my designer for this brief I was a little unsure. I hadn’t heard of her before so my excitement for this project took a while to kick in. It’s actually a real shame I hadn’t heard of Ansel before as she really is a really important figure in magazine design.
Ruth Ansel has been a woman of firsts in magazine design. In the 1960s, when she was 24, she and Bea Feitler became co-art directors of Harper’s Bazaar. The in the 1970s, she was made art director of The New York Times Magazine, in the 1980s, Vanity Fair. At each magazine she was the first woman in the position of art director. Now she runs her studio, Ruth Ansel Design. For a while she was one of the great unsung heroes of magazine design until 2010 when she was the first designer featured in the Hall of Femmes, then in 2016 became a AIGA medalist.
Through reading about her on various websites, ordering the Ruth Ansel Hall of Femmes book and watching videos such as the one below, I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of her work and her impact on magazine design.
Her portfolio and design journey are incredible to say the least but it seems that not enough people know about her work which is why she was the first woman written about for the Hall of Femmes project.
Hall of Femmes aims to highlight the work of women in art direction and design. The project was founded in 2009 by Samira Bouabana and Angela Tillman Sperandio. It includes lectures, exhibitions, interviews, podcasts and the publication of the Hall of Femmes book series, each book portraying a designer and her work through in-depth interviews and previously unpublished images.
The project started as a personal desire to find female role models in graphic design, a field where women’s contribution to developing the profession had not been documented or had enough recognition.