Autumn 2018

This woman’s work

Kate Hepburn’s design career, embracing pioneering magazines such as Spare Rib and Vole as well as comedy and rock’n’roll, is rooted in rigorous typography

Over more than four decades, Kate Hepburn has left a distinct mark on contemporary culture – in publishing, comedy and rock’n’roll – yet at heart she is a typographic designer who thinks deeply about letters, words and the meaning of text.

One project she began while a student still resonates: her masthead and early art direction (in collaboration with designer Sally Doust) for the pioneering feminist magazine Spare Rib, first published in July 1972. (See Fi Churchman’s article ‘Radical platform’, about the history of Spare Rib, on page 99.)


Vole vol. 1 no. 10, 1978. Cover illustrations by Kate Hepburn (with designer Walter Junge) using illustration, cut-outs, collage, photomontage and other graphic effects for the pioneering environmental magazine Vole. ‘The confidence of [Monty] Python made anything possible,’ says Hepburn.
Top: Portrait by Red Saunders.


Spare Rib no. 1, 1972. Design: Kate Hepburn and Sally Doust. Angela Phillips’ cover photograph showed two young women in their own clothes without make-up. ‘We are familiar with these types of images now,’ says Hepburn, ‘but at the time it hadn’t been done.’ In co-editor Rosie Boycott’s words (quoted in Ian Birch’s Uncovered), ‘It was about sisterhood.’


John L. Walters, editor of Eye, London

Read the full version in Eye no. 97 vol. 25, 2018


Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues. You can see what Eye 97 looks like at Eye Before You Buy on Vimeo.

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