Happy International Women's Day! And what better time could there be to celebrate some of the most amazing women in the creative sector? So in this article, we've gathered together a mix of emerging and established women working in their profession, all doing wonderful things to inspire your own career.
The industry as a whole may still be struggling to achieve gender equality, but that doesn't mean we're short of heroes to emulate and point the way forward for us. So read on to meet some of the women that have most impressed and galvanised us in the last 12 months.
Charlotte Adorjan is a creative director and copywriter with 20 years' experience under her belt, 17 of them at AMV BBDO, one of London's most creative ad agencies. She's well known for working with big brands, writing human interest pieces, and promoting the value of diverse thinking.
Charlotte's work has won awards at D&AD, Cannes Lions and Creative Circle, and she was recently shortlisted in The Drum's Creative Woman of The Year Awards. And outside her day job, she's the co-founder of Woodism, an art collaboration that celebrates children with autism whilst raising money for charity.
Olivia Christian has worked as a brand strategist for more than 15 years. Her clients include global brands like Google, Twitter, Visa, and Microsoft and nonprofit organisations providing life-advancing support to vulnerable communities throughout the United States.
Through her workshop, Own Your Story, Olivia coaches audiences in a methodology for crafting a clear, concise and compelling personal brand story. She recently published her first book, Ask Olivia: An Entrepreneur's Advice For Entrepreneurial Life. Elsewhere, Olivia also works as a freelance sports reporter. Her work has been featured on National Public Radio (NPR), ESPN and ESPN Radio, and NBC Sports California.
After being born into homelessness in South Korea and driven by the hardships endured during her formative years, Jolene Delisle is inspired to work with values-driven organisations and clients she can positively impact. She co-founded her branding and creative agency The Working Assembly, while pregnant with her first child in 2017.
Since then, she's been committed to working with female founders, empowering minority entrepreneurs and activating local endeavours. Current clients include unicorn startups like Zola and Klarna, cultural institutions like NYC Tourism and NYC Pride, as well as established brands like Evian and MassMutual. Since the agency's inception, the company has tripled revenue every year.
An Italian independent typeface and graphic designer, Alessia Mazzarella is a specialist in type design and font engineering. She has previously worked as a senior type designer at Fontsmith, as a senior font developer at The Northern Block and has developed original typefaces for URW Asterisk and Google Fonts.
She holds an MA in Typeface Design from the University of Reading and degrees in Graphic Design from Central Saint Martins and Graphic & Media Design from the Sapienza University of Rome. Today, she's behind the studio and foundry Typeland and is a graphic design teacher for Shillington in London.
A senior member of the design team at independent London design studio The Frameworks, Rose plays a key role in generating creative concepts and outputs for all our clients. Her passion for people and storytelling is at the heart of every project, helping businesses and audiences forge authentic connections. Clients include IBM, World Community Grid and Tata Consultancy Services.
She especially loves to give a voice to the smallest details and is a big advocate for side projects. When Rose isn't in the studio, she can be found illustrating birds and championing kindness and mental health.
Last summer, Brooklyn native Nicole Cousins graduated from Rhode Island School of Design and is now working as an associate designer at COLLINS. Strong print, branding, advertising and packaging, she has a keen interest in arts, entertainment, pop culture and the internet. Nicole loves to explore the borders between culture and design and generate new perspectives on designing for social good.
Originally from Canada, Hilary Archer is a brand designer, graphic design lecturer, and founder of the creative collective Twenty Assembly. Working predominately in brand design, Hilary has worked with brands and studios of all sizes and now runs the creative collective Twenty Assembly. With an exciting array of clients across multiple industries, her objective is to help evolve, reinvent, or build brands that stand the test of time in the face of changing consumer behaviours and a dynamic marketplace.
Hilary also lectures graphic design at Shillington in London. She loves being kept on her toes through teaching and helping to build creativity, confidence, and value in the creative community worldwide.
Shelley Smoler is Executive Creative Director at Droga5 London, which she joined in 2017. She works across the agency's entire roster of clients, leading much of the global Amazon business. A recent highlight has been Droga5's first Super Bowl commercial for Amazon, the Emmy-nominated, Before Alexa.
Before Droga5, Shelley and her creative partner Raph were creative directors at Bartle Bogle Hegarty London, working with Audi, Google, Heineken, KFC, Mentos and The Guardian. They were also part of the team that created a campaign for The Zimbabwean newspaper, which received over 50 awards, including a D&AD Black Pencil, a Cannes Lions Grand Prix and two Grand Clios. The award-winning project is now part of the permanent collections of the British Museum and the Design Museum.
Shelley has been a frequent fixture on the global circuit of advertising awards shows, both as a recipient and a jury member, where she enjoys taking a break from her gentle demeanour by fighting loudly for good. She offers insight-led ideas in a South African accent that has been surprisingly resilient in the face of almost ten years in London.
Annette K. Dennis is an independent designer and creative director, working across branding, art direction and graphic design. She specialises in crafting brand identities across all touchpoints, from packaging and printed materials through to web and digital.
She's got a ton of experience in a broad range of industries thanks to her adventures in the UK and United States for over a decade, being part of the team at various small and large agencies around the world. Today, she's based in Melbourne where she heads up the independent publishing imprint Dossier Industries – a side project that "adds a valuable dimension to a designer's practice," she says. Annette also lectures at Shillington, helping to create the next generation of graphic designers.
For over 20 years, Laura Jordan Bambach has enhanced the advertising industry through her fresh and pioneering spirit. She is recognised globally as an innovator and industry leader, described by The Guardian as "a digital female icon". And less than a year after joining London creative agency Grey as UK Chief Creative Officer, she was promoted to President & CCO in recognition of her natural leadership style, her creative and new tech skills, and her entrepreneurial acumen.
Before joining Grey in 2020, Laura co-founded the creative agency Mr President in 2014 and acted as its Chief Creative Officer. During this time, she was honoured as one of the Fifty Most Inspiring Women in Tech by Inspiring Fifty and was named the most influential digital influencers in the UK on The Drum's Digerati list. Under her stewardship, Mr President was named Agency of the Year by The Drum and International Small Agency of the Year by AdAge.
Laura is a former president of D&AD who has been twice named one of Britain's most influential people within the Debrett's 500 Annual List and recognised as Individual of the Year at the DADI Awards. She was also honoured in Campaign UK Female Frontier Awards for Championing Change. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of the digitally connected world, she was presented with an honorary doctorate for her services to graphic design from Norwich University of the Arts in 2015 and the University of South Wales Alumni Award for Arts and Culture in 2018.
Laura is a true champion for diversity and co-founder of The Great British Diversity Experiment, the largest practical experiment in diversity and its contribution to commercial creative practice. She is also a co-founder of SheSays, the world-famous volunteer network that encourages more women into the creative industries through mentorship, networking events and training. The organisation boasts over 40,000 members, operating in 43 cities and is famed for its annual VOWSS awards, which showcases the best film work made by women around the globe. She also recently co-founded OKO, a platform that connects tomorrow's talent with experienced professionals.
Laura lectures around the world and has written a creative curriculum for the RCA, UNSW Art and Design and Westminster University. Her passions extend to exploring areas of identity and gender, and she is also a trained taxidermist!
Marssaié Jordan is a creative director and brand designer who "celebrates the vibrancy of culture through authentic stories". Living and working in London, she has over a decade of industry experience working with purposeful and impactful brands. "Throughout my career, I have elevated design thinking," she says, "leading teams in design that challenges the status-quo. As well as identifying emerging creatives and creating space and opportunities for them."
"I love that design is an integral part of life that takes many forms. For me, great design is clever and succinctly communicates a narrative/story. Seeing something well designed, be it graphic design, fashion or architecture genuinely fills me with joy," she adds.
On the side, Marssaié also teaches graphic design at Shillington where she says she enjoys sharing her experience and insights with the students, who – in return – "inspire her with their fresh perspective and limitless ideas".
A graduate of the School of Visual Arts, Sanuk Kim is a designer and an art director based in New York. Previously at VICE, Museum of Modern Art, and Mother Design, she's currently designing at COLLINS. With a deep interest in design thinking philosophy, she employs a multidisciplinary approach to design, ranging from graphic design, motion, illustration, and product design. Her clients include Sweetgreen, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Target, Spotify, Girls Scouts and Pop Tech.
Describing herself as a multi-disciplinary creative, Missy Dempsey loves to spread joy and optimism in her cheerful work that spans graphic design, illustration, animation and art direction. Based in Sydney, she's been working as a graphic designer for over a decade; the first seven of those were at agencies and the past four have been for herself. "My superpowers are active listening, visualising concepts and drinking more cups of tea than water," she says.
Looking through her impressive portfolio, it's clear Missy Dempsey loves all things bright, bold and colourful, whether she's illustration personalities for Madri Gras, designing concepts for social impact campaigns, or creating collages for her next exhibition. Her mission is to bring joy to the world through every medium. This creative passion is carried through to her side project, Wow Mountain – a project she began during lockdown with partner Josh Flowers to create and sell 3D printed flowers from biodegradable corn-based bioplastic. She also teaches graphic design at Shillington.
Megan Bowker is an Alaskan born graphic designer living and working in New York. Previously at Pentagram and Mother, she's a design director at COLLINS in New York City. Her work covers strategy and brand systems for cultural organisations like PopTech and The Baffler to influential brands including Target, HBO, Warner Music and The Girl Scouts of America. She's also an adjunct professor at the School of Visual Arts, where she teaches advanced typography and design.
We especially loved her part in the project for OpenWeb, a brand identity that references 19th and 20th-century newspaper headlines with a new logo that serves as a symbol of thoughtfulness and online civility. And also the visual refresh for Target's More Than Magic, featuring an inclusive, imaginative brand that "embraces girls' uniqueness and self-expression".
Taiwanese-born designer Olivia Chen began her career in advertising, working in New York City and helping to create campaigns for huge clients, including NYU Shanghai, American Express and Rolling Stone. She then moved to Hong Kong and worked in boutique branding firms such as Tommy Li Design Workshop and Substance. Later, she found herself in Melbourne and worked for Yoke and BrandWorks while building up her own studio Studio Chenchen on the side.
Today, Oliva is based in Sydney and focuses all her time on her own studio, making good use of both interior and branding skills that she has learned along the way. With a network of talented people with various cultural backgrounds and skillsets, Olivia and her team create strong visual identities and multi-sensory branding experiences. She also loves to give back to the creative community by teaching graphic design at Shillington.
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