The People’s Graphic Design Archive is a crowd-sourced virtual archive that includes everything from finished projects to process, photos, letters, oral histories, anecdotes, published and unpublished articles, essays, and other supporting material in the form of documents, videos, audio, as well as links to other relevant archives and websites.
Our goal is to enable new and expanded stories about a graphic design history— one that represents diverse cultures and a broad range of interests! The archive exists in Notion now, but will eventually move to a purpose-built, public website.
We want you to join the project!
Browse for inspiration, research, or just for joy!
Upload your graphic design history treasures (10+ old) and/or
Share your research or historical work on the blog.
Share the archive with friends and colleagues .
How to submit items to the archive
What to submit to the archive
Digital images of finished projects, process, photos, letters, oral histories, anecdotes, published and unpublished articles, essays, and other historical material. You can add many different file formats including JPGS, pdfs, videos, audio files, as well as links. Projects must have been produced at least 10 years ago (or in the case of correspondence, interview, etcetera, be about work produced at least 10 years ago).
The People's Graphic Design Archive aims to challenge the status quo of graphic design archives. This archive is a grassroots effort built from the ground up rather than the top down.
We aim to:
Expand graphic design history to uncover and include the works and histories of Black, Latinx, Indigenous, LGBTQIA+, women, and other historically marginalized designers and allied professionals.
Expand the canon beyond institutions of design that are historically privileged and homogenizing.
Expand the definition of graphic design.
Preserve works that weren’t previously considered worthwhile.
Encourage The People to determine and save our collective history!
Values and Community Guidelines
The People’s Graphic Design Archive is a community comprised of those interested in preserving and expanding graphic design history.
A crowd-sourced effort ensures the inclusion of diverse work representing many points of view on what should be part of that history.
Everything belongs as part of the historical record. However, some material may be found offensive. Work of this nature should be identified as such.
We consider historical material to be that which is at least ten years old.
We make no claim to ownership of site content. The rights holder retains trademark and copyright.
The more the merrier. As material is added, the value of the resource expands, so spread the word! Invite others!
Users are able to use the content for research or inspiration, with the broader ambition to generate new scholarship and new stories.
We hope there are many who will find The People’s Graphic Design Archive useful and valuable and feel a sense of ownership:
Practicing Designers who are looking for inspiration will find the site a gold mine for browsing work. Many designers look for a certain aesthetic from the past when doing project research, and the ability to offer both a better way to find that reference material, but also to expand what one thinks of when they think of say, psychedelic posters, can offer new and exciting possibilities for the commercial design world.
Design History Educators will find this site incredibly helpful to expand their curriculum and as a potential element within a class brief encouraging students not just to consume history, but help to expand it through research and writing.
Design History Students can look up aspects of history that interest them most, using the site for class research, and as a way to engage personally with design history. Additionally, students may be likely to submit artifacts that more seasoned designers wouldn’t consider.
Design Scholars and Design Researchers can utilize the archive to make new discoveries in the graphic design discipline as well as to further expand the narratives of the well-worn tales.
Casual viewers can enjoy looking at graphic design images, possibly as a gateway from art. They may come to the site after watching a movie and want to view pieces from the era of the film. They may stumble upon the site when someone posts something on Twitter. They might follow the Instagram feed for a daily dose of visual joy!
Scholars and Experts in allied fields might use this source to support research on visual or material culture, and other relevant fields, potentially seeking work that makes connections between fields.
Who is behind the archive?
Louise Sandhaus started this project when she found herself with an abundance of extra archival material she simply couldn't fit into her book, Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires and Riots: California and Graphic Design 1936–1986. You can read more about the evolution of the project in her blog post here.
Briar Levit, a graphic design professor at Portland State University, and director of the documentary, Graphic Means, and Brockett Horne, chair of graphic design at MICA, who co-teaches graphic design history with Ellen Lupton enthusiastically joined the project in 2018. Yana Gevorgyan provides development consultation and Morgan Searcy leads social media strategy.
Working on the permanent web home for The People's Graphic Design Archive are Rob Meek and Nick Sherman with consulting from Stephen Coles, all from FontsInUse.com. We had additional consultation from the Microsoft Design AI + Research Team.
Interns thus far have been Conny Cavazos, Leah Maldonado, David Caterini, Sarah Lee, and Yura Seo.
Advisors along the way have been Andrew Blauvelt, Johanna Drucker, Steven Heller, Gloria Kondrup, Ellen Lupton, Silas Munro, Ruki Neuhold-Ravikumar, and Lorraine Wild
We have had the chance to share this project and consult with a group of design history educators, scholars, and curators, through the Design History Friday meetup.
Support for the Project
The PGDA is supported by a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the
Fine Arts and several grants from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). We are grateful for their support!