Feminine Archetypes on Women’s Suffrage Postcards as Agents of Propaganda

Insight into the prevailing beliefs of the early twentieth century

Andrea Hempstead
Assistant Professor
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Archetypes have been used as a successful marketing tool for years as the “collective unconscious,” so the use of feminine archetypes on suffrage postcards at the turn of the century should not be surprising. Both pro and anti-suffrage cards visualize the conformity to, as well as the divergence from, the mother, the maiden, the lover and the huntress to further their cause. The social importance of postcards during this time can be compared to the power and proliferation of the modern-day meme on social media, as billions of private visual messages were made public. Today, memes are used as a cultural practice of belonging for conversation, community and identification.

As consumerism grew in America at the turn of the twentieth century, so did the need to communicate to sub-cultures within America. By studying the styles, methods and modalities of the illustration of women as feminine archetypes on suffrage postcards, we gain insight into the prevailing beliefs of the early twentieth century surrounding gender roles, sex and power, gender and nationalism, and how these postcards were used as agents of propaganda using feminine archetypes.

Context and an understanding of audience are integral to meme generation. By examining the use of feminine tropes and archetypes in memes as situational understanding, we can see how the power of the narrative has shifted. The female narrator can use gendered assumptions to further her message through the common experience with the messaging of a meme.

Building off of historical analysis, sub-cultural beliefs and motives can be contextualized to gain an understanding of the use of archetypal imagery and messaging present on suffrage postcards and memes. By comparing and contrasting the use of the feminine archetype on suffrage postcards and memes, we can see how the feminine ideal and experience are tools for message making.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 7.2: 109th CAA Annual Conference on Wednesday, February 10, 2021.

Art, Interaction and Narrative in Virtual Reality

Slavica Ceperkovic
Seneca College

This artist presentation will present a case study on how different user models of interaction shape narrative experiences in virtual reality landscape environments. The three models that will be explored are guided experiences, embodied task interaction, and companion based virtual reality interactions.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 5.2: CAA 2019 Conference New York on Thursday, February 14, 2019.

Portraits of Obama: Media, Fidelity, and the 44th President

Scholarship: Creative Work Award Winner

Kareem Collie
Harvey Mudd
Stanford University

“In a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank that high on the truth meter…information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.” -Obama

President Obama made this statement in May 2010, during one of his most tumultuous years in office— healthcare reform, financial reform, the BP oil spill … the list continues. The notion of being bombarded by media is not a new one. This idea was discussed often during the last half of the 20th century, as television became ubiquitous in American life. The proliferation of media content, voices, and audiences (specifically in relationship to news content) continue to grow and reach into every aspect of our lives through 21st century media tools and channels. The discourse on media and its impact on society continue to call for scrutiny, and as Obama says, it continues to put “new pressure on our country and on our democracy.”

Using Obama as a prism, I examine the culture of American mass media, examining the fidelity of news content amongst the ever-growing, ever-fragmenting, modern media landscape. I investigate the audience’s active engagement in the construction of their relationship to reality, the flawed nature of news makers and their perceptions of the world, and offer an alternative narrative approach to the construction of the self.

I approach this essay through the convention of narrative and visual communication. I discuss narrative as a mechanism of our individual cognition and cultural engagement, allowing for personal and collective understanding of the world around us. The tools of visual communication design are used to reframe the discussion of today’s 24/7 media environment, hoping to step outside of the “wolf’s gullet,” using the tools that help coat its lining.

My hope here is three-fold: (1) Using President Obama as an example, I wish to examine and illuminate the current role of media in our lives, (2) reframe the discourse of media and the active nature of the audience through the use of visual communication design, to pose new questions and answers and (3) present an alternative means of finding our sense of self within the deluge of media today.


Kareem Collie is a lecturer at Harvey Mudd College and Stanford University. He is a design professional, with over fifteen years of experience designing, directing, and leading projects in branding, advertising, interactive, and creative strategy. His collaborative and leadership skills span across diverse areas of the industry, from the boardroom to the classroom.

Kareem is also a lifelong learner and educator, with a decade of experience teaching design and design thinking. His research interests are visual communications, design thinking, narrative, audience reception, and media theory.

As a deep thinker, visual storyteller, and maker, Kareem endeavors to inject more critical thinking and intentionality into the creative process, a notion that drives both his practice and pedagogy.


Recipient of recognition in the Design Incubation Communication Design Awards 2017.


Ned Drew
Department of Arts, Culture and Media
Rutgers University

Brenda McManus
Assistant Professor Graphic Design
Dyson College of Arts & Sciences
Pace University

This letterpress project encompasses the traditional printing method with a contemporary and modular printing system. Inspired by the minimalist children’s book design of artists such as Blexbolex, Bruno Munari and Paul Rand, we set out to develop a narrative, and its accompanying visual vocabulary, based on a simple shape—the triangle. Using this shape we developed a unique story, generated through a system of expanding interpretations and multiple combinations.

The overall concept and design of this project revolves around our dedication to the foundations of design. Basic design principles, such as color, shape, abstraction and layering are at the core of this initiative. We developed a printing system based on a single unit, a one-inch right triangle. Like building blocks, we set out to create a series of simplified illustrations that were comprised of this single unit (the triangle).

Although conceived as a letterpress project, our process started with a more contemporary tool, the computer. We used Adobe Illustrator to design the animal illustrations, this process would later serve as a digital blueprint to work from when translating the various layers to the press bed. Once we worked through the design we produced one hundred, type high, 1” x 1” right triangles. To implement this system we produced 3D printed 1×1” triangular counter forms or “slugs”. These slugs enabled us to easily “lock up” different configurations on the press bed. We also custom cut a set of plywood “furniture” in various sizes that acted to fill and organize the unused areas of the press bed. This marriage of old and new technologies allowed for exciting possibilities, a departure from the conventional pica based printing process.

The use of digital tools in the design phase was instrumental in the success of our illustrations and in implementing and managing the printing process.

We often discuss with our students the concept of “1+1=3”. This simple concept helps to illustrate that, in design, basic elements can be combined to make unique combinations. In our printing process this is was also true. A major design consideration was the correct and balanced layering of colors to achieve the different components of the animals’ portraits. These whimsical and simplified representations came to life through the subtle layering and manipulation of various color combinations.

How Much is Too Much?

Mark Zurolo
Associate Professor Graphic Design, UConn Storrs
Liz DeLuna
Associate Professor Graphic Design, St. John’s University

Motion design has evolved into a discipline that requires a complex skill set including, but not limited to, an expert command of typography and illustration, technical ability including expertise in software, understanding of narrative structures, an animator’s sense of motion, timing and sound, and formal design acumen. Whew! That’s a lot. Motion graphics emerged from graphic design with pioneers like Saul Bass, trained as a traditional graphic designers who saw graphic design not as static compositions, but kinetic orchestrations captured in a moment of stasis. New technologies have created not only the potential for new visual languages, but entirely new skill sets. Who is best equipped to wield these languages? What should they learn and how should they learn it? Taste or Technology? Software or gestalt? Is the horizon endless or ending? This presentation will explore techniques and briefs that investigate strategies for creating thoughtful and articulate skill sets driven by the principles of graphic design in the context of motion.


This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 3.0: Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) on Saturday, Sept 24, 2016.