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Women s History Month: Inspiration Behind Famous Images

Discover the intriguing stories behind iconic images that continue to inspire during Women s History Month.
Cassie Viele
Published Mar 19, 2019
Some images, posters, and messages last a lifetime, but the story behind that imagery is often as legendary and interesting as the image itself. You may be surprised to learn that Marilyn Monroe s famous skirt blowing photo wasn t an original idea or that the Women s March logo was created in a day. Look for inspiration, both in the memorable images and the story itself, as we celebrate Women s History Month and the females that we ll remember for a lifetime to come.

Marilyn Monroe

This iconic image of Marilyn Monroe was taken by photographer Sam Shaw. He had taken a similar photo for Friday magazine in the 1940s, according to, and was inspired to replicate that for this image of Monroe during filming of The Seven Year Itch. marilyn-monroe-famous-image
The Inspiration: The best ideas can be reinventions.   Your turn: Be inspired by the designs and businesses around you, or better yet, by your own work. You don t always have to come up with a completely original idea to make your marketing unique or effective.

We Can Do It

This poster was created by artist J. Howard Miller for Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company, according to the National Museum of American History. It was displayed for just a brief time in the Westinghouse factories, seen only by the workers there. Yet it's become one of the most well-known images from World War II. Poster.  "We Can Do It!" or Rosie, the Riveter.  1985.0851.05.
The Inspiration: A small audience may be enough.  Your turn: Don t be discouraged if only a few people take your brochure, business card, or flyer. You don t know the impact your messaging can have on those who took it   or who they ll give it to. Reaching the right people may not mean being seen by the masses.

The Afghan Girl

This 1985 photo of Sharbat Gula was taken by Steve McCurry and became famous after its feature on the cover of National Geographic. McCurry says, of the moment he captured the photo, I guess she was as curious about me as I was about her, because she had never been photographed and had probably never seen a camera. After a few moments she got up and walked away, but for an instant everything was right the light, the background, and the expression in her eyes. Afghan Girl
The Inspiration: The right moment can t always be planned.  Your turn: Don t let inspiration pass you by. With a product like MyCreativeShop at your fingertips, you can design your next marketing materials whenever the moment strikes - after a great client call, when you re in the middle of developing a new product   whenever, wherever.

We the People

These famous images were created by the artist known for her Barack Obama Hope poster, Shepard Fairey. She channeled the same cultural electricity to create three images for the Trump inauguration. Fairey says in an interview with CNN: "It's really about making sure that people remember that 'we the people' means everyone, it means all the people. I think the campaigns were very divisive, more from one side than the other. But [it's] just reminding people to find their common humanity, and look beyond maybe one narrow definition of what it means to be American." We The People
The Inspiration: Art reflects culture.  Your turn: Consider how you can use cultural events to create more stirring marketing materials. How can your business relate to something your customers are passionate about to drive brand recognition or sales?

Women s March

In an interview with Chronicle Books, the logo designer, Nicole LaRue, said, I actually provided the team with (and worked on) one, single design that day. Truly. I only had a few hours to bring the sketch to life, so it forced me to just get right to it. Her inspiration was the mission to represent all women, but she needed a team to bring it to life: After that, the entire team and I scrambled to create hundreds of social media icons, banners, and merchandise. The timeline was a very short and compact whirlwind! Women's March Flyer
The Inspiration: Your most impactful work can happen in a day.  Your turn: A short deadline doesn t need to stop you from designing dynamic materials. Work with what you have and focus on the overarching goal to create an impactful marketing piece and don t forget about your team. Work with the people around you to achieve the impossible.

Migrant Mother

One of the most iconic images of the Great Depression came from a moment of intuition for photographer Dorothea Lange. This photo was taken in 1935, and, according to MoMA, Lange felt as though she was being pulled toward the mother: I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. Migrant Mother
The Inspiration: Listen to your intuition.  Your turn: Designing marketing materials requires as much intuition as it does logic and knowledge of what works and what doesn t. Let your gut guide you if you re feeling stuck on a certain design element, piece of messaging, or brand change.

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