Jane Connory (Monash University)
The paradoxical comfort zone. An investigation into how students and professional women in Australian graphic design experience [in]visibility.
This paper looks to theorise the states of visibility and invisibility (that is [in]visibility) experienced by women in the Australian graphic design industry, post 1960. Visibility, as a form of authorship, self-promotion and presence in historical narratives, is the professional ambition for many graphic designers, however invisibility is often viewed as a negative choice. Invisibility for women – that is a whole or partial state of absence in comparison to men – along with visibility, is the focus of this investigation. Interviews were conducted with twenty-four women, identified as significant contributors to Australian graphic design by their peers. These were then transcribed and analysed using grounded theory and an [in]visibility framework, developed by Ruth Simpson and Patricia Lewis (Simpson and Lewis, 2007). The results, focusing on the ‘deep’ drivers of invisibility, reveal a diversity of emotive experiences related to comfort levels and has led to the development of a survey instrument for further enquiry. The survey – titled Comfort and [In]Visibility – gauges and validates the emotive comfort zones of individual women within the states of [in]visibility. Surveying students and professional women in Australian graphic design, the initial analyses show both common and disparate attitudes towards [in]visibility. We may conclude from this research that women generally feel comfortable with being visible but can feel just as comfortable with being invisible, at the same time; what we call ‘the paradox of comfort zones’.Download The paradoxical comfort zone. An investigation into how students and professional women in Australian graphic design experience [in]visibility. (1.96 MB)