Poster Girls

“The story of women in 20th century graphic design has been criminally neglected…”

says David Bownes, curator at the London Transport Museum.

“…It would be tremendous if they could receive the same acknowledgement as their famous, male counterparts.”

This is the idea behind the current poster exhibition at London Transport Museum, which celebrates the work of female poster designers over the last 100 years. The show also aims to demonstrate the ‘revolution’ that took place in design education in London following 1945 as the advertising industry boomed, with more and more women taking on courses at specialist schools such as Royal College of Art (RCA), and the then-separate Saint Martin’s School of Art and Central School of Arts and Crafts.

While Bownes acknowledges there is still gender inequality in the design industry, he hopes that exhibitions such as this will help to celebrate the achievements of these past design greats – and that, eventually, shows like this will no longer be necessary:

“It hasn’t been a straight, upward arrow for equality in the design industry. The number of women commissioned to do posters declined quite steadily after World War Two, and has only increased again in the last 20 years.

Throughout the 20th century, men were paid significantly more and had a much higher profile. They did more self-promotion than women and did not have the pressure or constraints of family life.

Ultimately, we don’t want to need to have an exhibition on female poster designers – it should just be the best poster designers.”

We totally agree.


Poster Girls runs until January 2019 at Exterion Media Gallery, London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza, London WC2E 7BB. Tickets cost £16 in advance or £17.50 on the door. For more info, head to the London Transport Museum site.