Female pioneers are honoured with brilliant portraits for a new spin on Guess Who


Heroes like Frida Kahlo are immortalised for a board game that highlights the hidden her-story of our world.

The festive season has come to an end, and you may have a pile of new games to play with as gifts, or you probably played a shedload of games to while away the Christmas and New Year. Something to add to your wishlist for Xmas 2019 is Who's She?, an educational take on guessing game classic Guess Who? that celebrates famous - and not so famous - female pioneers from history.

Created and Kickstarted towards the end of last year by Playeress, the game features influential women throughout history such as Frida Kahlo and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and showcases some great illustrations of these heroes by one Daria Gołąb.

Based in Warsaw, Daria created hand-drawn watercolour portraits of all 28 women featured, as spread out across the game's gorgeous wooden frames. Talking to Digital Arts, Daria explained the process behind these images - and what she learnt herself from the game.

"All the portraits were based on images, but as some women are only known from one photograph or an ancient bust (e.g. Hatshepsut), it was quite a challenge in some cases," she reveals.

"We settled on a more illustrative style, so I was focusing on the most characteristic features. First I worked with pencil sketches that helped us establish the character of every woman: the outfit, expression and most important elements of their looks. We discussed colour palettes for most of them but Zuzanna at Playeress trusted me with my choices.

"Definitely the most challenging part was to be consistent with style and detail considering the different quality of sources I had available for each portrait," Daria continues. "Although it's easy to change things in digital files, I wanted to keep them as close to original paintings as possible so some portraits needed reworking until they all fitted perfectly together."

Interestingly, Daria found the more famous and ready-available faces more of a challenge to capture. "J. K. Rowling, Serena Williams - these are the faces that everyone knows and can easily spot mistakes or lack of likeness," she points out.

The artist also discovered new names while working on the project, getting an education herself in female pioneers from a whole host of fields.

"I researched every woman I portrayed to know more and 'feel' them," Daria says. "For me it's an important part of being able to capture likeness.

"I was happy to see some names I already knew, and even more happy to discover new ones.

"I still have some research I want to do, books to read and plans to discover more amazing women I can be inspired by."

One particular hero of Daria's who appears in the game is Frida Kahlo, who was the first female artist she ever came across as a youth.

"I'm absolutely fascinated by her life and her work," Daria says about the painting legend. "She definitely made an impact on me as a young girl who never wanted to give up her passion for art.

"The history we learn at schools sadly ignores female figures in most fields, but it's especially visible in art. I'm on a hunt for books that tell or should tell the history of art made by women."

Though not a book, and not strictly art-focused, one place Daria can start by looking is another her-story themed game from 2018, the student-made project Women in Visual Communication. We featured the stylish card game last year and were impressed by its mission to highlight some rather obscure female design pioneers.

Like Who's She, the game conveys information about its heroes with a mandate to both educate and visually titillate.

Here's to more enlightening and expertly illustrated games like these in 2019 - hopefully ones on a more mass produced scale, too.

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