I first discovered Cipe’s work about a dozen years ago, when I was working a 9-5 job as a graphic designer in a Minneapolis firm and trying to do my own work during my off hours. As someone who was struggling to bushwhack a career path out of combining illustration, type and design, Cipe’s work spoke to me.
At a time when lettering was unpopular, and both art schools and the professional world tried to keep these disciplines segregated, she moved between them effortlessly, and combined them in innovative, striking ways—like pairing loose, hand-painted drawings with sleek typography, or featuring colloquial or folk themes in a sophisticated fashion magazine. Her work stands the test of time and is as fresh and approachable today as it was when she created it.
At the same time, she forged her own path as a pioneer and leader, both as a woman and as an illustrator-designer. She was also producing work for a largely female audience, rather than trying to appeal to everybody (which is impossible).
While many designers or advertisers from that era might have created work that is simply “feminine,” or merely designed to pander to women, Cipe’s work spoke to her audience with true understanding and respect because it came from a fellow woman’s point of view—and celebrated everyday life as well as fashion and glamour.
- Cipe, the prototype by Amelia Hugill-Fontanel
- ‘Couldn’t they find one token woman for this?’ by Paula Scher
- Everyday life as well as fashion and glamour by Chandler O'Leary
- Hand-written, eye-popping, colorful—before its time by Ilene Strizver
- A role model peering over my shoulder by Louise Fili
- The chemise in typography by Cipe Pineles