Creating a Platform for Women

A look inside the pages of Greta Magazine, art directed by Williams. Photo courtesy of Sadie Williams.

Graphic design alumna Sadie Williams’ Greta Magazine showcases female artists and explores topics relating to feminism

By Caroline Andrade

What started as a student project within four walls of a classroom at the Academy of Art University’s School of Graphic Design (GR) ultimately took shape in the form of an award-winning publication known as Greta Magazine founded by alumna Sadie Williams.

Williams designed the magazine in GR Director Phil Hamlett’s Visual Systems 2 (GR 425) class with the initial aim of it being “just a design project,” but after reaching out on Facebook to see if anyone would be interested in writing about feminism from broad experiences, she received an onslaught of responses. “People that were friends of mine were reaching out to their friends that I didn’t know and they were responding to the post,” said Williams. “I had over 40 volunteers after that to write, so now it’s been a magazine with all original content.”

Williams created the first issue in her Visual Systems 2 class, and then two more issues were created outside of the classroom. The three issues covered “the contemporary woman,” “the body,” and “maternity.” “Greta Magazine is a platform, meaning I did not prescribe what the topics would be,” explained Williams. “It was really guided by the volunteers’ interest, [and] I kind of sifted through and categorized what the volunteers wanted to write about.”

School of Graphic Design alumna Sadie Williams. Photo courtesy of Sadie Williams.

She continued: “The contributors in the magazine come from different backgrounds, age groups, and demographics, even living in different parts of the world. “[They have] different ideas and different backgrounds religiously, and politically, and that kind of makes it an interesting read because not all the opinions are totally aligned with current feminist thought.”

Another element of working on the magazine was curating the artists that contributed to the magazine. “[W]ith my fine arts background, it was just a blast to sift through what artists at the present are doing,” she said. “Of course, every artist in Greta is female so it was awesome to see how many phenomenal female photographers there are in just the Bay Area.”

In 2018, the magazine was recognized by Graphic Design USA prior to being published. It also received a silver award from Graphis Magazine in the Design Editorial category earlier this year.

Williams credits Hamlett for his role with Greta. “He really helped refine art direction,” she said. “This was a really expressive piece, it had a lot of room for experimentation, so he helped channel that creativity into something that made more sense.”

“Within a class structure, students are encouraged to think about all kinds of different ways to strike a balance between how much consistency you develop as a framework and how much variation you allow to happen,” said Hamlett. “In Sadie’s instance, she elected to play that out in a publication and she did a really good job of building something that has some obvious presence and some obvious attributes that remain constant, but providing a platform through which a lot of other different things can flow and take different forms. That’s the core of the class and that’s how she realized it and did a wonderful job with it.”

Williams’ advice to Academy students is to have fun with their projects. “You are going to get so much more experience and learn so much more from being really experimental and expressive, and trying something really crazy, and being a student is the time to do that.”

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