“The Women’s March was coming,” Narya Marcille recalls, “and I was furious about the outcome of the election and I had nowhere to put that energy. I so wanted to march.” She wanted to go to Washington, D.C., for the first national march, a year ago, but she felt she couldn’t take her 4-month-old son with her and couldn’t go without him, so she decided to stay at home in North Smithfield, Rhode Island.
Then she saw a contest from Amplifier.org for posters it would print in mass quantities and distribute for the march. She created a design featuring Hillary Clinton, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and a crowd of women marching on the U.S. Capital under pink clouds.
“I worked nonstop on that one. I did the math and I think it ended up being 72 hours [over eight days] to get that one done,” Marcille says.
But Amplifier passed on her design. What to do? “I ended up posting it on the Pantsuit Nation Facebook group,” Marcille says. “Then a lot of people responded to it.”
Her graphic—which reads “Women Unite” across the bottom—attracted more than 87,000 likes and nearly 3,000 comments in the closed Facebook group of Clinton supporters. She turned it into a digital download that people could print out and carry at the 2017 Women’s Marches. It became one of the icons of the protests.
“The craziest part was people getting in touch with me and saying how the artwork made them feel,” Marcille says. “That it made them feel stronger or more confident. … I never thought my art could do that.”
Afterward, the Library of Congress got in touch and added it to their prints and photographs collection. “I sent one to Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” Marcille says, “and she wrote me a really sweet note back and she told me she was going to have it framed and put up in her chambers.”
Marcelle hadn’t planned on getting into graphic design when she studied at the University of Rhode Island. Instead she graduated with a degree in photography in 2005. But after working a series of odd jobs—bartending, selling jewelry, working at a kitchen and bath place—around 2010, she took a month-long, online course to learn the graphic design program Illustrator.
“I started doing portraits of friends and family, trying to get to learn the program better,” Marcille says. And she began designing advertisements for some of the places she worked. A year after the first of her two sons was born in 2013, the now stay-at-home mom got back to graphic design by creating monthly events calendars and other graphics for a local baby things shop.
After her 2017 Women’s March design became a viral hit, things slowed down again. Until “a week before Christmas, I started getting messages from this guy I didn’t know from every platform I was on,” Marcille says. He said, “I work for a company in charge of creating special editions for Newsweek [magazine] and would you be interested in creating a cover?”
“I had a week to complete the whole design,” Marcille says. “I stopped cooking. I stopped cleaning. I stopped wrapping presents. Everything. … I stayed up all night on Christmas because I had so much to do.” (She thanks her husband for keeping everything together.)
The magazine—a celebration of the women’s movement under the headline “She Persisted”—arrived on newsstands on Tuesday. “I went to pick up the magazine,” Marcille says, “and my youngest when he saw it on the rack he started pointing at it.”
“It’s so exciting,” Marcille says. “Anyone who goes to school for art, you have to do it because you really want to. You’re going to get a lot of criticism. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve had anybody in my life who’s not told me to get a real job.”
“My philosophy now is I’m going to just try to take every opportunity I can,” Marcille says. “I’m going to try to not say no.”