“Back at university after summer, Leah [Fredrickson] and I spoke about her recent abortion,” explains graphic design student Millie Tyler. “We spoke for a long time about the fact that abortion isn’t discussed openly. There are still so many issues around reproductive rights and bodily autonomy; there is a massive stigma which we wanted to address.”
From this conversation, Millie and Leah – who are currently in the final year of their BA in graphic design at Kingston University – decided to challenge such stigmas with the creation of a collaborative publication titled 50 Years of Choice. Also created as a celebration of the fact that 2017 marked 50 years since the passing of the Abortion Act in England, the project forms part of a larger body of work for the pair. “We frequently have conversations about women’s rights,” they explain, “both of our work is overtly feminist and often concerned with social and political issues.”
50 Years of Choice is a publication containing 50 posters by 50 women. As well as celebrating and empowering, the project was created to coincide with the vote to repeal the 8th amendment in Ireland. “We wanted to speak up about women that don’t have a choice,” Millie and Leah tell It’s Nice That, adding “we put a call out to female designers to submit a typographic poster.” This choice of medium proved to be a very deliberate one in an attempt to infiltrate a male-dominated field.
The pair began by reaching out to women they admired but word quickly spread; each submitted poster pertaining to four rules: it had to be an A3, black and white, typographic posters using a typeface design by a woman or one they had created themselves. “We gave each person submitting a tweet that was written in 2017, responding to the pro-choice movement and waited for responses,” they recall. “We were overwhelmed by the number of women who got in touch with us, the amount of support we received and the women all over the world who submitted posters.”
With the support of Fedrigoni Papers, Calvert’s Printers and Kingston School of Art, Mille and Leah turned these submissions into a publication including 50 of the best proposals, all printed using Risograph. “50 women, 50 tweets, 50 posters. The publication itself holds the posters, an outer publication with information about Abortion Support Network, the charity we are raising money for, and five postcards,” the pair continues.
To launch their impressively thorough and insightful project, Millie and Leah have partnered with London’s Protein Studios tomorrow (28 April) – an event which will include an exhibition of all the submitted work. Alongside this, there will be a panel discussion at 2pm ahead of the launch party at 7pm where DJ collective Co-Select Females will be playing.
A huge undertaking and no mean feat for two young designers who are still studying, 50 Years of Choice is a testament to the power of collaborative design, as well as proving the impact design can have in a wider context. Featuring contributions by Caterina Bianchini and Rifke Sadleir, what started as an extremely personal conversation between friends has become a project which not only discusses important issues but is proactive in setting an example.
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor.