A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.

Making Noise

Amanda Brinkman (MA 2010) gives voice to women through her socially conscious business platform

by Ana Sekler (MA 2016)

Amanda Brinkman portrait
Photo courtesy of Morgan Sasser

Amanda Brinkman (MA 2010) has a knack for seizing and responding to important cultural moments. The first of those moments happened when she moved to New Orleans after graduating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).

“It was a moment of transition for a lot of the arts organizations in New Orleans. There was a dearth of contemporary art programming, and we aimed to create a contemporary art community that could grow and support itself,” she says. Teaming up with Cameron Shaw, Brinkman created Pelican Bomb, an arts organization that over its eight years of service would build and support the arts in New Orleans.

Another moment came in October 2016, ahead of the presidential debate when Brinkman took her design side hustle and mocked up a T-shirt emblazoned with the phrase “Nasty Woman.” The T-shirt quickly went viral, with everyone from her former professor and mentor at SAIC Maud Lavin to Katy Perry and Will Ferrell, sporting the shirt.

After the 2016 election and the inaugural Women’s March, the success of her Nasty Woman design grew, and Brinkman again teamed up with Shaw. This time they created Shrill Society, a platform that brings together feminist designers whose products, like the Nasty Woman Game, tell women’s stories through ethical production and charitable giving.

Since 2016, Brinkman continues to expand Shrill Society. In response to the #MeToo movement, she developed editorial content through a blog and newsletter on Shrill Society. Providing a voice to the designers, the blog, The Shout, features interviews with the women behind the products. Both Shrill Society and The Shout evoke sound, “another way to reclaim terms used to talk about women’s voices, especially when women are in a position of power,” relates Brinkman.

In addition to giving voice to women, Shrill Society gives back through donations to humanitarian organizations like Planned Parenthood. It has donated more than $137,000 to date. “We’re a business that thinks about the stories of women, and I think telling these stories without giving back wouldn’t feel true to the business,” says Brinkman.