Professor Teal Triggs
School of Communication
Associate Dean, School of Communication
School Lead, Postgraduate Research
Professor Teal Triggs is an educator, historian and writer whose research focuses primarily on graphic design history, criticism, design research methods, self-publishing and feminism. She leads interdisciplinary research teams within the broader field of communication design and advocates for a holistic and interdisciplinary approach as essential to societal, business and strategic innovation.
At the RCA, Teal Triggs is Associate Dean in the School of Communication. She teaches on the MRes RCA Art & Design programme and is Academic Lead for research degrees within the School. She has extensive experience in supervising MPhil and PhD students in visual communication, design criticism and social design.
Professor Teal Triggs is a leading figure in the scholarship of graphic design history especially around feminist practices, independent publishing and design education. She is co-founder of the Women’s Design + Research Unit (WD+RU), and an advocate for the field of graphic design studies to inform and strengthen a foundation for graphic design research. The role of the practitioner-historian and the archive, are common threads in her work which often argues for a canon that takes into account the designer and their ‘act of making’.Show more
Teal Triggs has a BFA (Hons) in American Studies and Graphic Design (University of Texas at Austin) and two Master's in Art and Design History (University of Texas at Austin, Middlesex University) and a PhD (University of Reading). Her PhD thesis is on the graphic language of British punk and riot grrrl fanzines. Prior to joining the RCA, Teal Triggs led on design research projects and PhD supervision as well as undertaking a role as course director for MA Design Writing Criticism and MRes Information Environments, London College of Communication, University of the Arts London (UAL).
Alongside her research and teaching at the RCA, Teal Triggs is a design writer, curator and editor. Her book projects include co-editor with Professor Leslie Atzmon of The Graphic Design Reader (Bloomsbury, 2019), Fanzines (Thames & Hudson, 2010) and The Typographic Experiment: Radical Innovation in Contemporary Type Design (Thames & Hudson, 2000). In 2001, she co-edited with Roger Sabin ‘Below Critical Radar’: Fanzines and alternative aomics from 1976 to now (Hove). She is author of the award-winning children’s book The School of Art (Wide Eyed Editions, 2015) co-published in Australia and USA with translated versions in France, Brazil, Russia and China. Her writings have also appeared in academic journals including Communication Design, Journal of Design History, Design Issues, Poli: Politique de L’image and Visual Communication as well as in the mainstream design press Varoom and Eye: The International Review of Graphic Design. She is Associate Editor for the academic journal Design Issues (MIT Press) and previously was Editor-in-Chief for Communication Design (Taylor & Francis) and co-Editor of Visual Communication (Sage). She is on editorial boards for journals including: Journal of Illustration (Intellect), Estudos em Design (PUC-Rio, Brazil), Message Journal (Communication Arts Research, Plymouth University), Shi-Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics and Innovation (Tongji University/Elsevier, China).
Teal Triggs is an Adjunct Professor, School of Design and Social Context, RMIT University, Australia, and was previously Visiting Professor, Durban University of Technology, South Africa. She is a Fellow of the Design Research Society, (FDRS) Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts and Manufacture (FRSA), Fellow of the Royal College of Art (FRCA) and of the International Society of Typographic Designers (FiSTD).
Teal Triggs co-founded the Women’s Design + Research Unit (WD+RU) in 1994, whose aim is to raise awareness for women working in visual communication while also addressing issues such as those affecting women in design education. Creators of the experimental typeface, ‘Pussy Galore’ for FUSE 12, WD+RU’s work has been shown widely and was included in the group exhibition ‘elles@centrepompidou’ – a major exhibition of women artists in the Collection of the National Modern Art Museum, Pompidou Centre, Paris (2009–10).
Teal Triggs has led knowledge exchange projects for the School of Communication including those in partnership with Pureprint Group, Thames & Hudson, British Telecom Archives, Hyundai Motor company, and Peter Gabriel/Real World Tours. Her external collaborations and activities include:Show more
- Adjunct Professor, RMIT, School of Design, Melbourne, Australia
- Advisory Board, ZiVA School of Vigital Arts, Zimbabwe
- AHRC Design Theme Advisory Group, Design Research for Change
- Editorial Advisory Board, Bloomsbury Design Library, Bloomsbury Publishing
- Advisory Board, The V&A Research Institute (VARI)
- Jury panel member: Design Incubation Communication Design Educators Awards (2019), STACK Magazine Awards (2016, 2015) and Core77 Awards (2015).
- Scientific Expert and Mentor, ‘Swiss Graphic Design and Typography Revisited’- a collaborative research project by HGK Basel, HKB Bern, Universität Bern, HEAD Genève, ECAL, SUPSI and ZHdK Zürich. Funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.
- Adjunct Professor, RMIT, School of Design, Melbourne, Australia
Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes
Triggs, T. and Atzmon, L. (eds) (2019) The Graphic Design Reader, London: Bloomsbury Academic.
Triggs, T. (Author) with Frost, D. (Illustration) (2015) The School of Art (children’s activity book) London: Wide Eye Editions.
Triggs, T. Shaughnessy, A. and, Gerber A. (eds) (2015) GraphicsRCA: Fifty Years and Beyond. London: Royal College of Art.
Triggs, T. (2010) Fanzines: The DIY Revolution (Thames & Hudson, UK) with co-publication/translation: Fanzines: The DIY Revolution (Chronicle Books, USA) and La Revolution du DIY (Pyramyd, French Edition).
Recent Book Chapters and Journal Articles (selection)
Triggs, T. ‘The Critical Turn: Education of a Design Writer’ (2019) In Brad Haylock and Luke Wood (eds), One and Many Mirrors: Perspectives on Graphic Design Education. London: Occasional Papers. (In Press)
Triggs, T. (2018) ‘The Stuff of Things’ In Patrick Fry Great British Rubbish: A History of Ephemera from the Land of Lost Content. London: CentreCentre. pp.15-19.
Triggs, T. (2017) ‘Sites of Graphic Design Criticism: New Spaces, New Critics.’ EDL2016: Design, Identity and Complexity. Lisbon, Portugal. pp. 102-118.
Triggs, T. (2017) ‘GraphicsRCA: The Academy and the Archive’. In Graphic Design: Giving Form to History. (Les formes de l’histoire) Paris: Editions B42. pp. 130-143.
Triggs, T., Dalton, B. and Simmons, T. (2017) ‘Knowledge Exchange Through the Design PhD’. In Laurene Vaughan (ed) Practice-Based Design Research. London: Bloomsbury. pp. 65-76.
Triggs, T. (2016) ‘(re) mapping Futures: Graphic Design and the Archive’. In Lzicar, R. and Fornari, D. (Eds), Mapping Graphic Design History in Switzerland. Triste: Switzerland. pp.18-44.
Triggs, T. (2016) ‘Designing Education for Business’ In Sabine Junginger and Jürgen Faust (eds) Designing: Business and Management. London: Bloomsbury Academic. pp.167-174.
Triggs, (2015) T. ‘Mapping Futures for Graphic Design Education’. In Oven, P. & Predan, B. (eds) Design Education: What do you see? What do you think about it? What do you make of it? Ljubljana: University of Ljubljana. pp. 92-111.
‘GraphicsRCA: Fifty Years and Beyond’, co-curator with Richard Doust and Jeff Wills, Royal College of Art. Dubai Design Week (12-17 November 2017).
‘GraphicsRCA: Fifty Years and Beyond’, co-curator with Richard Doust, Adrian Shaughnessy and Jeff Wills, Museu Nacional de Republica. Brasilia, Brazil (4-27 September 2015).
‘GraphicsRCA: Fifty Years and Beyond’, co-curator with Richard Doust, Adrian Shaughnessy and Jeff Wills, Royal College of Art. London (5 November-22 December 2015).
Awards and Grants
Teal Triggs was awarded funding from the Harry Ransom Center Fellowship for the Humanities, University of Texas at Austin and the Fleur Cowles Endowment Travel Fund (2013). She has also received funding for community-focussed research from the Department of Business, Innovation, and Skills (2009); Creative Connexions, as part of a knowledge exchange programme on educational practices in India undertaken at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad (2009–10), and has contributed as Co-I on AHRC and EPSRC research council funded schemes, Global Uncertainties (2007) and Designing for the 21st Century (2004), focussing on interdisciplinary and communication design research for change.
Teal Triggs’ research covers graphic design history, theory and criticism. She is also involved in research which specifically explores the role of communication design in public spaces and community-based learning.
Current and recent research
This research takes as its starting point the idea of a ‘politics of display’ and argues for an understanding of the practitioner’s perspective in shaping history (and its canon) through curation and the displays of graphic design exhibitions. The work draws upon contemporary and historical examples primarily from UK-based designers to critical engage with how graphic design may be both a subject and object of display.
Libraries Without Walls in an Age of Radical Openness’ is a multi-stakeholder collaborative project which sets out to critically explore the role of design, public libraries and public participation in the future of knowledge production in an increasingly ubiquitous and networked digital age. The project is framed by the ways in which knowledge is understood within a process of transformation as we engage with new kinds of challenges shaped by digital technologies, modes and platforms of communication, digital public spaces and broader global/local, economic, political, and cultural contexts.
Katy Keene Fandom: Zines and the Politics of Participation is part of ongoing research which builds upon ground-breaking primary research into the history of fanzines and their role as social, political, economic and cultural documents. Specifically, this academic essay explores the American comic book character Katy Keene whose popularity in the 1950/60s was down to the active participation of readers in shaping the comic’s storylines, garments, homes, and transportation as befits her emerging career in Hollywood stardom.
Fleur Cowles and Flair Magazine is series of academic essays trace the publishing impact of Flair magazine (1950-51, USA). The research is divided into two key aspects: firstly the influential design of Flair magazine and to critically examine its position as a lifestyle magazine in Post-war America. And secondly, to explore the publication from an editorial ‘point of view’ and the significance of the role of Flair’s editor Fleur Cowles, and her editorial direction as it relates to the magazines lifestyle pages. The first essay, ‘The Extraordinary Story of Flair’ was published inVaroom magazine (2015).
The Graphic Design Reader (Bloomsbury, 2019) is a co-edited book with Professor Leslie Atzmon, comprising 90 original and commissioned essays from 1920 to 2019 that provide a critical platform for understanding and interpreting graphic design practice. The 954-page book offers a new way of approaching the subject via a methodologically-informed curation of its contents. The book establishes a unique curatorial position, juxtaposing historical and contemporary contributions which offer disparate points of view about an increasingly expansive practice. Contributors suggest new ways of approaching the ethical dimensions of graphic design in an age of the ‘fourth industrial revolution’, and at a time when curricula are being decolonised. The co-editors speculate on new directions for participatory adaptive communication in the epilogue ‘The Future of Graphic Design Practice’.
GraphicsRCA: Fifty Years and Beyond is a ground-breaking exhibition and book (RCA, 2015) which highlights the work and impact of graphic design students based at the Royal College of Art from 1963 to 2015. Co-curated by Teal Triggs, Richard Doust, Adrian Shaughnessy, Jeff Willis and RCA students, the exhibition opened in the Gulbenkian Gallery, London and travelled to Dubai Design Week (2017) and Museu Nacional de Republica, Brasilia (2015). Triggs was co-editor with Adrian Shaughnessy and Anna Gerber on an accompanying book. GraphicsRCA also features in Triggs’ published research (2017, 2016) where she critically examines the importance of graphic design archives and how the role of the practitioner-historian has offered new insights to its broader professional and pedagogical history.