Meet Wendy Fox, Creator of the Women's Gold Medalists Project
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]Y[/dropcap]ou can’t be what you can’t see, and whether it’s the CEO of a major company, president (thanks, Hillary!) or a top athlete, girls often have a hard time seeing what’s possible. That’s why Wendy Fox has made it her personal mission to highlight the incredible accomplishments of all of 2016’s female gold medalists. In a country where female athletes are chronically undervalued, we need Wendy’s beautifully illustrated book of inspiration. This week, we caught up with Wendy to hear about the motive behind her project and what feminism means to her.[divider type="dashed" spacing="10"]
Introduce yourself! Tell us who you are and what you do.
I am a designer and Illustrator with degrees in both Philosophy and Design. I live in Melbourne with my American architect husband and two awesome kids.
My projects range from branding, books, infographics to self-published projects with a focus on art, culture, women, sport, fashion and the environment. I have a growing interest in design that is the juxtaposition of different worlds not typically brought together.
Prior to my return to Melbourne with my young family, I had lived in New York for twelve years. My design education was in New York - it’s where I met my husband and had my first child. New York is my second home, I love it and get back as often as I can.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]
What inspired you to create your Women's Gold Medalists project?
The initial idea for the project came to me when I was watching the London games and flicking between gymnastics, rowing and judo. It struck me how vastly different physically elite athletes are and that the sport demands that they be. It seemed like a wonderfully positive thing to embrace. I was initially going to just chart the basic anthropometric data but showing the athletes seemed far more interesting and engaging. I then experimented a bit and came up with the infographic yet highly representational style.
Even though I had this idea while watching the London games, the idea had been brewing for a very long time. I grew up doing ballet but wasn't really the right body type to be ballerina so the seed was planted young. I've always loved watching the Olympics because I prefer to watch women play sports. The Olympics is really the only time you get to see this kind of coverage of women's sport. In non-Olympic times media coverage for women's sport is around 7%. There is also an incredible variety on offer during the Olympics.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]
What's been the most challenging part of the project so far? The most rewarding?
Asking people for money so I can get the project funded has been the hardest. However the wonderful feedback from people I admire has confirmed my belief in the value of the project so crowdfunding is getting easier. Regardless of money, it’s scary to put your work out into the world!
The technical part of the project that has been the hardest is the lack of reference images for certain sports. Shooters and archers are not photographed anywhere near as prodigiously as the gymnasts and beach volleyballers.
There have been many rewards. The London project received a number of international illustration and design awards which is hugely satisfying. WGM is the unusual intersection of sport, women and design and the feedback from all three has been thrilling and encouraging. It means different things to different people. For psychologists, its a therapeutic tool, for teachers it’s a guide, for sports fans and athletes it’s a collectible and for women it’s a celebration of female achievement.
Probably the most rewarding feedback has been from men who have engaged with the project and are now claiming that they are finding themselves to be more interested in women’s sport.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]
What advice would you have for other artists who want to take on similar projects?
Committing to a project with a substantial workload that nobody has asked you to do with an unknown outcome takes persistence. The middle of a project can be dark and lonely and fraught with questioning the validity of what you are doing. Sacrifice - side projects by definition require giving up what you normally do on the side.
That said, coming out the other side is filled with rewards from the accomplishment itself through to the incredible lessons you learned along the way.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]
How can our readers continue to support your work?