Teal is an educator, historian and writer whose research focuses primarily on graphic design history, criticism, design research methods, self-publishing and feminism.
Teal 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.
Teal 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).
Teal is also 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 comics 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 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).
The role of the practitioner-historian and the archive are common threads in her work which often argues for a more inclusive and diverse canon that considers the designer and their ‘act of making’.
Teal 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 ‘[email protected]’ – a major exhibition of women artists in the Collection of the National Modern Art Museum, Pompidou Centre, Paris (2009–10).
Publications, exhibitions, 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).
Triggs, T., Cook, S. Allan, L and Potter, S. (2022) Brave New Normal: Intergenerational Mentoring for Women in Graphic Design, London: Royal College of Art, WD+RU, and HWoD.
Triggs, T., Matsunaga, C., and Lewis, M. (2022) Building a Library for the Future: Munduruku Craft Practices and Indigenous Knowledge, London: Royal College of Art.
Recent Book Chapters and Journal Articles (selection)
Triggs, T. (2021) ‘Signs of the Everyday, Every Day’ In Dyer, J. and Deakin, N., (eds) Graphic Events. Eindhoven: Onomatopee Publisher.
Triggs, T. (2021) ‘The Critical Turn: Education of a Design Writer’ In Brad Haylock and Luke Wood (eds), One and Many Mirrors: Perspectives on Graphic Design Education. London: Occasional Papers.
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).
Teal 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.
She has previously worked with external collaborations as an 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; Advisory Board, The V&A Research Institute (VARI) ; 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.
Recent external collaborations include:
- Chair and Jury panel member: Design Incubation Communication Design Educators Awards, USA
- AHRC Peer Review College, UK
- Editorial Advisory Board, Bloomsbury Design Library, Bloomsbury Publishing, UK
Current and recent projects
Building a Library for the Future: Munduruku Craft Practices and Indigenous Knowledge funded by the British Council’s Crafting Futures Digital Collaboration Grants scheme, seeks to address an urgent need for an ethical and equitable applied communication project building on indigenous craft practices, to ensure the inhabitants of the Munduruku Bragança village have access to relevant knowledge for facing an uncertain future. Built upon a co-identified need for the development of cooperative communication practices, this multi-partner project uses a digitally inclusive method to foster new ways of shared learning to 'rediscover' local craft traditions and indigenous knowledge. Project Partners: Munduruku Bragança, University of Brasilia, and School of Communication, RCA.
Brave New Normal: Intergenerational Mentoring & Women in Graphic Design reports on the findings of a two-year pilot project (2019-2022) which seeks to extend existing research on mentoring models in a new context, that of the graphic design profession, and to challenge embedded ways of thinking about career lifecycles. The project emerges out of a context of (post-Covid-19) uncertainty about the future of work in the UK, and especially how this relates to gender. Project Partners: Hidden Women of Design (HWoD) and the Women’s Design + Research Unit (WD+RU), and School of Communication, RCA.
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 in Varoom magazine (2015). A second essay ‘Fleur Cowles: Flair by Design (1949-1951)’ was presented at the Design History Society seminar series Hidden Histories: Gender in Design (2022). A book is currently in progress.
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.
British Council: Crafting Futures Digital Collaboration Grants scheme (2021/22)
Royal College of Art RKEI Development fund (2021/22)
The Fleur Cowles Endowment Travel Fund from The Harry Ransom Center Fellowship for the Humanities, University of Texas at Austin (2013)
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’s 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.
PhD: Wenbo Ai, Mallaa Alamoudi, Nick Bell, David Benqué, Karen Bosy, Federico Campagna, Tai Cossich, Michaela French, Susannah Haslam, Nanette Hoogslag, Graham Hutchinson, Sarah Kirby-Ginns, Benjamin Koslowski, Chenyi Liao, Kate McLean, Paul Moody, Larissa Nowicki, Veronica Ranner, Kam Rehal, Helga Schmid, Kirsty Smith, Jimmy Tidey, Karin von Ompteda, Welmot Wartena
MPhil: Natalja Vikulina