• The People's Graphic Design Archive
    Brockett Horne, Briar Levit & Louise Sandhaus

Barbara Nessim, “Horoscopes illustration,” 1969. Courtesy “Essence” magazine

Without enough researchers, particularly ones representing diverse perspectives, and given few existing archives, much of graphic design history is unrecognized and is disappearing. In response to this urgent situation, The People’s Graphic Design Archive (PGDA) offers an online platform that allows anyone to contribute digital documentation of graphic design history. Contributions include everything from finished projects, work in process, photos, correspondence, oral histories, and interviews, to published and unpublished articles, and links to other archives. This crowd-sourced effort counterbalances conventional gatekeepers and facilitates collective input on what constitutes graphic design history. Rich tagging allows for diverse meanings and interests to emerge from collective input with great potential for new historical interpretations. As a research resource, the populated site serves scholars, students, educators, and those looking for inspiration worldwide without the limits of a physical location. The PGDA represents an inclusive approach to historical preservation and newly defined representation of what constitutes graphic design and its history.

Brockett Horne is a designer, educator, and writer. She teaches studio, history, and theory courses at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, where she also served as department chair for over a decade. She has been exhibited and honored with multiple design awards, is a past Rotary International Scholar, and has work in the permanent collection of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum of Art. Her creative work is inspired by a desire to encourage the spectator to learn while looking. Clients include the Baltimore Museum of Art, Johns Hopkins University, Polaris Project, and the Taproot Foundation, among others. Her research interests include: typography and power, packaging in the early twentieth century, and monograms. She holds a bachelor's of fine arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University, and she received her master's of fine arts from Rhode Island School of Design, and a master's from the Bard Graduate Center.

Briar Levit is an associate professor of graphic design at Portland State University. She studied at San Francisco State University for her undergraduate degree in graphic design and at Central Saint Martins in London for her master’s in communication design. Levit spent her early career in publishing as art director of Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture magazine as well as an independent book designer. Her self-initiated publications were walking books that challenge the existing hiking guide genre. More recently, Levit’s feature-length documentary, Graphic Means: A History of Graphic Design Production (2017) which follows design production from manual to digital methods, established an obsession with design history—particularly aspects not in the canon. She is currently editing a book of essays, tentatively entitled They Were There Too: Previously Untold Stories of Women Throughout Graphic Design History.

Louise Sandhaus is a graphic design and graphic design educator. She is on the faculty of the graphic design program at California Institute of the Arts. Her book on California graphic design, Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires and Riots: California and Graphic Design 1936–1986 (Metropolis, Thames & Hudson, 2014) received the Palm D’argent from The International Art Book and Film Festival (FILAF). In 2019, her book on the prolific designer, Gere Kavanaugh, co-written and designed with Kat Catmur, was published by Princeton Architectural Press. Sandhaus is a Letterform Archive board member, former American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) board member, and in 2017 received the Design Icon Award from Los Angeles Design Festival. She received a master’s in fine arts in graphic design from California Institute of the Arts and a Graduate Laureate from the Jan Van Eyck Akademie in The Netherlands.