Briar Levit is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design at Portland State University. She studied at San Francisco State University for her undergraduate degree in graphic design and at Central Saint Martins (UAL) in London for her MA in Communication Design.
Levit spent her early career in publishing as Art Director of the magazine, Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, as well as doing independent book design. Clients included The Museum of Contemporary Craft, Timber Press, Seal Press, California State Parks Foundation, and more. Her self-initiated publications are walking books that challenge the existing hiking guide genre—Into the Brambles, and Portland Companion Walks.
In 2017 Levit released the feature-length documentary, Graphic Means: A History of Graphic Design Production (2017) which follows the design production process from manual methods in the 1960s and 70s to the debut of digital methods the in 1980s. The film has screened in over 24 countries and is used in university design curriculums internationally.
Now, with a focus on design history—particularly aspects not in the canon—Briar is working on two major projects. An ongoing focus is The People’s Graphic Design Archive, a collaboration with Louise Sandhaus and Brockett Horne. The PGDA is a crowd-sourced virtual archive. Our objective is to create a radically new image of what constitutes graphic design history by allowing for an expansive and continually evolving representation of graphic design history and offering new opportunities for people to participate in generating history and see themselves within graphic design’s lineage. Used for research, this resource aims to encourage new scholarship, new interpretations of history, new historical subjects, and new forms of writing about history.
In spring, Princeton Architectural Press will publish the first book edited by Levit entitled Baseline Shift: Untold Stories of Women in Graphic Design History. The collection of essays (including one by Levit) focuses on the histories of women in design that have received either little to no research or dissemination that has been limited to academic publishing. Topics range from the graphic work of Native (Ho-Chunk) artist, Angel de Cora, to 1970s Women's Liberation (Ribu) publications in Japan, to the unnamed women working in type drafting, and much more. The book is slated for a Spring 2021 release.
BA in Industrial Arts, with an emphasis in Graphic Design
San Francisco State University
MA in Communication Design
Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (University of the Arts, London)