Women Who Draw: Explore an Open Directory That Showcases the Work of 5,000+ Female Illustrators

The seem­ing­ly nev­er-end­ing era of female artists labor­ing in the shad­ows cast by their male col­leagues is com­ing to a close.

Dit­to the tyran­ny of the male gaze.

Women Who Draw, a data­base of over 5,000 pro­fes­sion­al artists, offers a thrilling­ly diverse panoply of female imagery, all cre­at­ed, as the site’s name sug­gests, by artists who iden­ti­fy as women.

Launched by illus­tra­tors Julia Roth­man and Wendy Mac­Naughton in response to a dis­may­ing lack of gen­der par­i­ty among cov­er artists of a promi­nent magazine—in 2015, men were respon­si­ble for 92%—the site aims to chan­nel work to female artists by boost­ing vis­i­bil­i­ty.

To that end, each illus­tra­tor toss­ing her hat in the ring is required to upload an illus­tra­tion of a woman, ide­al­ly a full body view, on a white back­ground.

The result is an aston­ish­ing range of styles, from an inter­na­tion­al cast of cre­ators.

Not sur­pris­ing­ly, the major­i­ty of con­trib­u­tors are based on the East Coast of the Unit­ed States, but giv­en the site’s mis­sion to pro­mote female illus­tra­tors of col­or, as well as LBTQ+ and oth­er less vis­i­ble groups, expect to see grow­ing num­bers from Africa, the Caribbean, the Mid­dle East, and Cen­tral and South Amer­i­ca.

In addi­tion to indi­cat­ing their loca­tion, artists can check­list their reli­gion, ori­en­ta­tion, and ethnicity/race. (Those who would check“white” or “straight” should be pre­pared to accept that those cat­e­gories are tabled as “WWD encour­ages peo­ple to seek out under­rep­re­sent­ed groups of women.”)

Bean count­ing aside, the per­son­al­i­ties of indi­vid­ual con­trib­u­tors shine through.

Some, like Paris-based Amer­i­can Lau­ra Park, choose explic­it self-por­trai­ture.

Vanes­sa Davis gives the lie to biki­ni sea­son

SouthAsian illus­tra­tor Baani makes an impres­sion, doc­u­ment­ing women of her com­mu­ni­ty even as she rein­ter­prets tropes of West­ern art.

Pé-de-Ovo Stu­dio cor­ners the mar­ket on plushies.

Women Who Draw’s lat­est crowd-sourced project is con­cerned with per­son­al sto­ries of immi­gra­tion.

Final words of encour­age­ment from Lind­sey Andrews, Assis­tant Art Direc­tor for the Pen­guin Young Read­ers Design Group:

Just keep putting your work out there in any form you can think of. Update your var­i­ous social plat­forms reg­u­lar­ly. Mail post­cards of your work. Send emails. Net­work when you can. But, main­ly, do what you love. Even if you have a port­fo­lio full of com­mis­sioned pieces, I still like to see what you cre­ate when you get to cre­ate what­ev­er you want. Also, let me know your process!

Sub­mit your work here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Space of Their Own, a New Online Data­base, Will Fea­ture Works by 600+ Over­looked Female Artists from the 15th-19th Cen­turies

A New Archive Tran­scribes and Puts Online the Diaries & Note­books of Women Artists, Art His­to­ri­ans, Crit­ics and Deal­ers

The Dai­ly Rit­u­als of 143 Famous Female Cre­ators: Octavia But­ler, Edith Whar­ton, Coco Chanel & More

Ven­er­a­ble Female Artists, Musi­cians & Authors Give Advice to the Young: Pat­ti Smith, Lau­rie Ander­son & More

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inkyzine.  Join her in NYC tonight, Mon­day, June 17 for anoth­er month­ly install­ment of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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