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Inspiring Woman IN Grahic Design

Inju Heo
Mar 08, 2017

April Greiman

Inspiring Woman in Graphic Design

April Greiman is recognized as one the first designers to utilize computer technology as a design tool in the 1980’s, and to pioneer the American “New Wave” design style.

Born on September 10, 1948, April Greiman grew up in the New York City. Greiman first studied graphic design in her undergraduate education at the Kansas City Art Institute, from 1966–1970. She then went on to study at the Allgemeine Künstgewerberschule Basel, now known as the Basel School of Design (Schule für Gestaltung Basel) in Basel, Switzerland (1970–1971). Under Armin Hofmann and Wolfgang Weingart supervision, she was influenced by the International Style and by Weingart's introduction to the style later known as “New Wave”, an aesthetic less reliant on Modernist heritage.

 Cover of WET magazine, 1979 with Jayme Odgers designed by Greiman

In 1976, she moved to Los Angeles and founded Made in Space, the multi-disciplinary approach that extends into her current practice. She has been instrumental in exploring and spreading the idea of involving advanced technology in the arts and design process. In 1982, Greiman was appointed as a head of the design department at the California Institute of the Arts. In 1984, she lobbied successfully to change the department name to Visual Communications, as she felt the term “graphic design” would prove too limiting to future designers. 

“In the tradition of graphic design in the twentieth century, you had to be either a great typographer, a great designer/illustrator, or a great poster designer. Now we are confronted with motion graphics, the World Wide Web, and interactive applications. The world has changed and the field is changing to meet it.” -April Greiman
‍Apple Macintosh 128K

In that year, the Macintosh was making an unsteady entry into the design market. Most designers were skeptical of the idea of integrating the computer into design practice, perhaps fearing an uncertain future wherein the tactility of the hand was usurped by the mechanics of bits and bytes. A visionary few, including April Greiman, recognized the vast potential of this new medium. She exploited pixelation and other digitization "errors" as integral parts of digital art, a position she has held throughout her career. She bought her first Macintosh and became a student herself and investigated in greater depth the effects of technology on her own work. She would later take the Grand Prize in Mac World's First Macintosh Masters in Art Competition. An early adopter of this computer, Greiman produced an issue of Design Quarterly in 1986, notable in its development of graphic design. The issue, entitled “Does It Make Sense?,” contained a life size, nude self-portrait, layered with symbols and typography (above) became an instant industry-benchmark and forced the design world to sit up and take notice of the contributions computers could provide.

‍“Does It Make Sense?” Greiman's Design Quarterly #133, 1986

In 1995, the U.S. Postal Service launched a stamp designed by Greiman to commemorate the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (Women's Voting Rights). She has received a lifetime achievement Gold Medal from the American Institute of Graphic Arts, as well as honorary doctorates from Art Center College of Design, Kansas City Art Institute, Lesley University, Boston College of Art and the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She has had solo exhibitions at the Visual Arts Gallery at the School of Visual Arts, New York (2008) and the Pasadena Museum of California Art (2006). Recently in the Designing Modern Women Exhibition at MOMA, and represented in the group show, Elle@Centre Pompidou in 2010-2011. She has exhibited in cultural institutions, lectured academically and professionally, generated public artworks and participated in juries worldwide. Her ideas and work have appeared in articles, interviews, reviews and broadcasts in the media, ranging from Newsweek and Time, to The New York Times and USA Today to CNN, PBS and ESPN. Books have included April Greiman: Floating Ideas into Time and Space, It’snotwhatAprilyouthinkitGreimanis, Hybrid Imagery: The Fusion of Technology and Graphic Arts, and Something from Nothing. 

Inju Heo
Inju Heo is a principal & creative director of YBYI Design. She has over 17 years of experience in communication design. She has two master degrees in computer arts and communication design. She is the author of Computer Graphic Design Essential and co-author of Media Design. She also taught computer graphic design courses in colleges.

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