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black hands,

black art,
black magic
black made,
black skin.
black design?

white dominated field...

Where are all the Black Creatives?

A thesis by Deidra J. McKnight, a young black design student who was tired of
having black creatives excluded in her studies.
black hands,
black art,
black magic
black made,
black skin.
black design?

white dominated field...

Where are all the Black Creatives?

A thesis by Deidra J. McKnight, a young black design student who
was tired of having black creatives excluded in her studies.
“Where are all the black creatives?” is the result of my frustration

after taking multiple history and design classes where I felt non-
white creatives were being ignored and/or overlooked. When
I asked about the lack of black, designers, illustrators,etc. the
answers were mostly the same.

No one knew why or where to get the information.

I am over accepting this answer and the fact that I, nor most of
my peers, could name a black graphic designer except for Emory
Douglas. I also couldn’t see myself working in the design field
because I wasn’t seeing other black people doing so. I‘m tired of
feeling “other” in a field so well known for helping bring people

This publication is for those who care and want to learn as well
as those who will read and and start conversations. Created after
hours of research, interviews, and conversations, I struggled a
lot and sadly didn’t find as much information on everyone like I
wanted, but thanks to the knowledge of AIGA, Glenford laughton,
the wonderful interview participants, and a few others I am able to
present to you this publication full of various black creatives and
their work. I hope some learn something new, reach out, and bring
these folks as well as others into their spaces and that others of
you feel validated, inspired, and that you belong. Please share it,
talk to others about, talk to me about it if you want. I want to start
talking about solutions and acting upon them instead of continuing
talks of the problem. Help me to do that and my promise to you is
this: I will continue towards my degree in Graphic Design and I will
get it. I will work in this field and be my true self, and I will one day
give back to help the next generation.

Thank you.
Gail Anderson pg. 10–15 Art Sims pg. 16–19 Sylvia Harris pg. 20–23 Thomas Miller pg. 40–43 Georg Olden pg. 44–47 Eugene Winslow pg. 48–51

Emory Douglas pg. Archie Boston pg. 30–35 Emmett McBain pg. Leroy Winbush pg. Aaron Douglas pg. 56–59 Charles Dawson pg.
24–29 36–39 52–55 60–65
13th Designer pg .66–67 Norm McCuller pg. Loveis Wise pg. 78–85 Corey Vasquez pg. Rheagan Dukes pg. Jamila Carter pg. 136–143
68–77 118–125 126–135

Rob Lewis pg. 86–101 Kayla Bronson pg. 102– Erika Nathanielsz pg.
109 110–117
Gail Anderson
Known for her uncanny ability to create After working her way up from associate to
expressive, dynamic typefaces suited perfectly senior art director, Anderson left Rolling
to their subject, Gail Anderson is a designer Stone in 2002 to join SpotCo where her
and teacher with an impressive tenure in the focus shifted from design to advertising.
field to date. At SpotCo, she's been the designer behind
innumerable Broadway and off-Broadway
Born and raised in New York, Anderson's ever posters including that of Avenue Q and Eve
burning curiosity about design began with Ensler's The Good Body.
the teen mags of her adolescent years and was
cemented while studying at the School of Praised as the quintessential collaborator for
Visual Arts in NY. It was here that Anderson her inclusive, expressive, and encouraging
began to develop her methodologies and no attitude towards working together, Anderson
holds barred approach to design. also admits that many of her "high-octane"
designing occurred at night, solo. Whether
After college, Anderson eventually landed at it's her collaborative work, solo projects,
The Boston Globe for two years where she magazine layout, and design, or theatrical
worked with those responsible for pioneering posters, Anderson designs work with and
the new newspaper design of the late 1980's. for her subjects, always emphasizing their
Moving on to Rolling Stone in 1987, Anderson highest potential.
worked seamlessly with AIGA medalist, Fred
Woodward, where their creative process always
included lots of music, low lighting, and
late nights. Her work with Woodward was
always exploring new and exciting materials
and instruments to create Rolling Stone's
eclectic design. Everything from hot metal
to bits of twigs, to bottle caps, was utilized
to create their best vision possible.
Gail Anderson 13
Graphic Designer
Art Sims
From his first foray into the art world with the After seeing one of Spike Lee's films Sims
"Draw Me" test from magazines and TV of knew he had to work with the director. He
the 50's and 60's, Sim excelled. He attended went on to design posters for Lee's New Jack
Detroit's Cass Technical High School, known City, Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, and
for its dedication to the arts. From there most controversially, Bamboozled.
Sims gained acceptance to the University of
Michigan on a full scholarship. During the Ever the entrepreneur, Sims is developing
summer between his junior and senior years, his own greeting card line and writing
Sims landed a job with Columbia Records screenplays, while teaching graphic design
to produce a series of album covers. After at a middle school for African Americans.
graduation, the sunshine state was calling The epitome of talent, drive, and ambition,
his name and Sims headed to LA. Art Sims is decidedly an African American
graphic designer you should know.
Once in LA, Sims scored a job with EMI from
where he was ultimately let go for pursuing
freelance work. He went on to work for CBS
where he continued building his independent
portfolio. This time when he was let go, he
was prepared, and already had the office
space for his firm, 11:24 Advertising Design.
Art Sims 19
Graphic Designer
Sylvia Harris
Noted for her unwavering desire to help others,and began focusing more on design planning
Sylvia Harris was a graphic designer, teacher, and strategies. Harris helped guide some of
and business owner, who used her research the largest public institutions, hospitals, and
and skill set to reach far and wide. universities with systems planning. In her role
as creative director for the US Census Bureau's
Born and raised in Richmond, VA, Harris Census 2000, Harris' rebranding efforts helped
experienced desegregation of the 1960's to encourage previously under-represented
directly. This experience provided the foun- citizens to participate.
dation for her interest in social systems and
their effect. After receiving her BFA from Harris was awarded the AIGA medal posthu-
Virginia Commonwealth University, Harris mously in 2014, three years after her untimely
moved to Boston where she worked with a death at the age of 57. For her contributions
wide variety of creative types. It was through to the design field and far beyond, Harris will
her work with WGBH and Chris Pullman always be remembered.
that she realized the breadth and depth of the
design field. After much prodding from her
mentor, Harris enrolled in Yale's Masters in
Graphic Design program.
1953 – 2011 Two Twelve Associates was created with two
of her former classmates in 1980 after grad-
uation. Here, Harris really began to explore
how to use and grow her skill set to create
large-scale public information systems. Her
work with Citibank set an early precedent for
human-centered automated customer service.
In 1994, Harris left Two Twelve to create
Sylvia Harris LLC where she changed gears
Sylvia Harris 23
Design Strategist
Emory Douglas
The former Revolutionary Artist and Minister alongside the party’s focuses. It was while
of Culture for the Black Panther Party, Emory working on The Black Panther that Douglas
Douglas’ career in commercial art has been coined and popularized the term “pigs” in
centered around civil and equal rights prop- reference to police officers.
agation from its beginnings.
Come the 1980’s the Black Panther Party as
Douglas’ first exposure to design came when Douglas had once known had been mostly
crimes he committed landed him in the Youth dissolved by the efforts of law enforcement.
Training School of Ontario, California. Here, Later, Douglas moved to care for his ailing
he worked in the print shop and learned about mother and continued to pursue some inde-
typography, illustration, and logo design. Later, pendent design. His revolutionary artwork
Douglas enrolled in commercial art classes helped to educate and agitate repressed and
at the City College of San Francisco after suppressed communities of the time.
running into a former counsellor from the
center who encouraged him to do so.
During this time, Douglas became active in the
Black Panther Party after being introduced to
the founding members, Huey P. Newton and
Bobby Seale. While watching Seale work on
the first issue of the party’s paper, The Black
Panther, Douglas offered up his design skills.
He was well aware of the importance of having
illustrations and artwork to help reach the
many illiterate members of the communities
the party was targeting. Much of his art and
illustration for the paper initially focused on
Black rights, but it soon expanded to include
women, children, and community figures,
Emory Douglas 27
Graphic Designer
Emory Douglas 29
Graphic Designer
Archie Boston
Known for his blatant self-deprecation and becoming head of the visual communications
humor as an African American, Archie Boston design program. There, he influenced countless
was a pioneer in challenging the racism of young designers, inspiring them through his
the 1960’s and 70’s through his designs and encouragement and standard for excellence.
provocative attitude.
His irreverent attitude toward race in his
One of five children, Boston grew up poor but designs and lasting legacy through his time
well aware of the importance of education. In as an educator make Archie Boston one of
1961, his artistic talent landed him acceptance the most prolific African American graphic
to Chouinard Art Institute. During his time designers of our time.
at university, he interned with the advertising
agency Carson/Roberts, where he cemented
his desire to work in design and eventually
returned to work, years later.
After graduation, he worked in various adver-
tising and design firms before forming Boston
& Boston with his older brother, Bradford. It
was here that they created provocative pieces
showcasing their race, as well as creativity, in
pieces such as “Catch a Nigger by The Toe,”
and by selecting the Jim Crow typeface for
their logotype.
For the majority of his career, however, Boston
was an educator. He landed a position as
full-time lecturer in the art department at
California State University, Long Beach before
creating their design department and eventually
Archie Boston 33
Graphic Designer
Archie Boston 35
Graphic Designer
Emmett McBain
Emmett McBain, born in Chicago in 1935, is Park, Chicago neighborhood, where he later
perhaps lesser known than some of the other passed away in 2012 at the age of 78.
designers profiled here, McBain made major
contributions to the advertising and design The University of IL at Chicago has a col-
world, as well as for all African Americans alike lection featuring his works entitled, Emmett
through his successes in the business world. McBain Design Papers. Here you’ll find print
ads, record album covers, and transparencies
A true visual thinker and communicator, Emmett of Billboards, all designed by McBain himself.
McBain attended The American Academy of
Art and the Illinois Institute of Technology
where he became a talented watercolor artist.
Post graduation, McBain worked for several
notable agencies and firms as a designer, art
supervisor, and creative consultant before going
on to co-found Burrell McBain Incorporated.
An advertising agency, which later went on to
become the largest African-American owned
agency in the States, Burrell McBain aimed
1935 – 2012 to serve their accounts while gaining the trust
and loyalty of the black community. McBain
was key in getting the agency up and running,
landing valuable accounts, and constantly
developing new and fresh ideas. His former
partner, Thomas J. Burrell, praised his leadership
skills and ability to think outside of the box.
McBain left Burrell McBain in 1974 to focus
on independent art and design in his Hyde
Emmett McBain 39
Graphic Designer
Thomas Miller
Born in Bristol Virginia, the grandson of design team he also worked on the Motorola
slaves, Thomas Miller’s talent, hard work, rebranding, the Peace Corps logo and the Betty
and ambition helped him become one of the Crocker “Chicken Helper” branding, earning
first black designers to break into mainstream accolades for himself and for the company.
graphic design.
Miller freelanced as well, starting when he
Miller graduated and earned a Bachelors of served in WWII and continuing on through
Education with a focus on the arts in 1941 his work with Goldsholl. It was through his
from Virginia State College. Soon after he independent work that Miller was commis-
enlisted in the army and served in WWII, sioned to create a memorial to the DuSable
achieving the rank of First Sergeant. Museum’s founders. This job resulted in one
of his most well-known pieces, the Thomas
After the war, determined to learn about Miller Mosaics, which is featured in the lobby
commercial design, Miller gained acceptance of the museum.
to The Ray Vogue School of Art in Chicago,
where he and fellow student, Emmett McBain, Miller’s hard work, dedication, and artistic
were the only African Americans aside from talent helped him pave the way for many
the janitors. African-American artists and designers to
come in future generations.
1920 – 2012 Post graduation, Miller searched for jobs and
denied one offer in New York on the basis
that he work “behind the screen.” Unwilling
to tolerate the company's overt racism, Miller
passed on the offer and eventually went on to
join the progressive Chicago studio, Morton
Goldsholl Associates. It was here that Miller,
as chief designer, worked on high-profile
campaigns such as the design for 7-Up in
the 1970’s. As a supporting member of the
Thomas Miller 43
Graphic Designer | Visual Artist
Georg Olden
Born in 1920 in Birmingham, Alabama to Arts) award in 2007. Celebrated for his talent,
the son of an escaped slave and opera singing charm, and business intelligence, Olden was
mother, Georg Olden was a revolutionary a revolutionary graphic designer who made
designer who helped pave the way for African advancements in the industry, as well as for
Americans in the field of design and the all African Americans.
corporate world.
After a brief stint at Virginia State College,
Olden dropped out of school to work as a
graphic designer for the CIA’s predecessor,
The Office of Strategic Services. From there,
the connections he made helped him land a
position at CBS in 1945 as Head of Network
Division of On-Air Promotions. It was here
that he worked on programs such as Gunsmoke
and I Love Lucy and eventually went on to
help create the vote-tallying scoreboard for
the first televised Presidential Election in 1952.
1920 – 1975 Praised in his day as well as posthumously, Olden
appeared multiple times in publications such
as Graphis and Ebony. In 1963, he became
the first African American to design a postage
stamp. His design showcased chains breaking
to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the
Emancipation Proclamation. By 1970, he had
won seven Clio Awards for creative excellence
in advertising and design, and eventually won
the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic
Georg Olden 47
Graphic Designer
Eugene Winslow
Born in Dayton, Ohio into a family of seven Proclamation for the Chicago exposition.
children, Eugene Winslow’s parents stressed Throughout his career as an artist, designer,
the importance of education and encouraged businessman, and entrepreneur, Winslow
their children to study the arts. Winslow always sought to promote racial integration
attended Dillard University where he received wherever he could
his Bachelors of Fine Arts degree. He then
went on to serve in WWII as part of the
revered Tuskegee Airmen.
1919-2001 After the war, Winslow nurtured his life-
long artistic interest by attending The Art
Institute of Chicago and the Illinois Institute
of Technology. Winslow then went on to
co-found the Am-Afro Publishing house based
out of Chicago, where in 1963, they published
‘Great American Negroes Past and Present’
with Winslow’s illustrations. That same year
he also designed the seal commemorating
the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation
Eugene Winslow 51
Aritst | Illustrator
Leroy Winbush
One week after graduating high school, Leroy to a “black designer,” but was well aware of
Winbush left Detroit for Chicago to become the influence he could have on the progression
a graphic designer. His inspiration and men- on the black community. He designed a sickle
tors at the time where the South Side’s sign cell anemia exhibit as well as exhibitions of the
designers. He began creating signage, flyers, Underground Railroad for different Chicago
and murals for the Regal Theater where he museums to illuminate the public to Black
rubbed elbows with some of the most famous history, past and present. His combined
black musicians of the time. accomplishments through his lifetime make
LeRoy Winbush a notable African American
Winbush then went on to join Goldblatt graphic designer worth checking out.
Department Store’s sign department where he
was the only black employee. In 1945, after
years of working for others, Winbush started
his own company, Winbush Associate, later
Winbush Designs. Here he landed accounts
with various publishing houses, doing layouts
for the likes of Ebony and Jet. His ambition
and charisma eventually helped him gain
1915 – 2007 acceptance as a black designer and entrepreneur.
Later in life, Winbush began teaching visual
communications and typography at various
Chicago Universities. He concurrently mas-
tered the art of scuba diving, a feat that helped
him land a position as part of the crew tasked
with creating the coral reef of Epcot Center.
Winbush was adamant in his desire to be
remembered as a “good designer,” as opposed
Leroy Winbush 55
Graphic Designer
Aaron Douglas
Known as a key artist in the Harlem Renaissance, the black urban scene. His murals, adorning
Aaron Douglas was a pivotal figure in devel- the walls of various institutions, cemented
oping a distinctly African style of art through his name as a major artist of the Harlem
his blending of Art Deco and Art Nouveau Renaissance. His best-known work is a series
styles with connections to African masks and of murals called, Aspects of Negro Life, which
dances. His illustrations, published in Alan Douglas created for the 135th St branch of
Locke’s anthology, The New Negro Movement, the New York Public Library.
showcased his detachment from European-style
arts and evolution into his own style, clearly He later left New York to become chair at
communicating African heritage. the art department of Fisk University in
Nashville, TN, where he resided until his
Douglas graduated from the University of death until 1979.
Nebraska in 1922 with a BFA. He then went
on to teach high school art before moving
to New York two years later to study under
German artist Winold Reiss.
He became the most sought-after illustrator
for black writers of his time after his covers
1899-1979 for Opportunity and The Crisis which were
dubbed “Afro-Cubanism” by leading art critic
Richard Powell. Among his other notable covers
and illustrations are his designs for Carl Van
Vechten’s Nigger Heaven and God’s Trombone,
James Weldon Johnson’s epic poem.
Douglas was well versed on the Harlem Nightlife
scene where he spent many nights gaining
inspiration for his designs and depictions of
Aaron Douglas 59
Painter | Illustrator | Graphic Artist
Charles Dawson
Best known for his illustrated advertisements, Dawson took part in two different Works
Charles Dawson was an influential Chicago Progress Administration programs, under
designer and artist through the 1920s and 30’s. Roosevelt’s New Deal, including the National
Youth Administration where he designed the
He was born in 1898 in Georgia and went on layout for the American Negro Exposition, a
to attend Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee piece composed of 20 dioramas showcasing
Institute. After two years there, he left when African American history.
he became the first African American to be
admitted into the Arts Students League of New He eventually returned to Tuskegee where he
York. Dawson abandoned the pervasive racism became a curator for the institute’s museum and
of the league when he gained acceptance to passed away at the age of 93 in Pennsylvania.
the Art Institute of Chicago where, in his own For his great contributions to African America
words, their attitude was “entirely free of bias.” art, design, and advancement, he will always
During his time there, Dawson was heavily be remembered.
involved and went on to become a founding
member of the first black artists collective in
Chicago, The Arts & Letters Collective.
After graduation, he went on to serve in the
1889 – 1981 segregated forces of WWI where he faced
combat in France. He returned to find a
changed Chicago: one racially charged due to
a slowed economy and trouble finding jobs. In
1922, Dawson began freelancing, producing
work for other black entrepreneurs. Five years
later, Dawson played a major role in the first
exhibition of African American art at his alma
mater called Negro In Art Week.
Charles Dawson 63
Graphic Artist & Designer
Charles Dawson 65
Graphic Artist & Designer
The Uknown & Forgotten 67
Various artist

We must pay respect to those who have gone unacknowledge.

To the many who paved the way for young designers like me,
I thank you and I am very grateful for the sacrifices you made.
Glenford Laughton states gracefully, and with power: "The 13th
African American Designer's name is a mystery because they are
one of many, often invisible but the impact of their work is felt
throughout history and should be acknowledged, such as; those
who worked behind the scene as designers but did not receive
credit due to the racist norms of the times; the logo creators for
the uniforms of the Negro baseball and basketball leagues; the
unknown graphic designer who painted the bold and sobering “A
from their New York offices whenever they learned of a hanging;
and all of those presently active (Black Lives Matter) in creating
banners, posters, signs, and media protesting discrimination of
all kinds. Graphic design, after all is about communicating a
message effectively. As a designer of the African diaspora, African-
Jamaican-Canadian, the importance of knowing those who paved
the way for African-American graphic designers, for the truth of
all history, cannot be understated. These men and women boldly
pushed passed racial inequality with their talent and perseverance
to help create the way for all."
Norm McCuller 69
Graphic Designer

Tell me about yourself, early years and where Happiness is something that has always been a huge
you come from. motivator for me. What is the point of doing anything

if it doesn’t make you happy on some level? Also, the
I was born in Portland and moved to Vancouver, WA ability to pay bills and eat food is good, too.
around high school. My dad is American and my
mom is from Vietnam. I’ve got two degrees, one in Can I know a little bit about your process
sociology from the University of Washington and when working? Is there anything special you
a degree in Graphic Design from Portland State do to get the creative juices flowing?
University. In between my university degrees, I spent
a few years living and teaching English in Thailand Giving myself time to think and letting ideas develop
and later South Korea. organically is huge for me. I find that forcing ideas
or not thinking them through enough can be a huge
How did you first get interested in design, hindrance to my creativity and productivity. Clearing
illustration, etc.? my head and really focusing on the problem at
hand are things that are important for me to “get the
I think design is something that I’ve always been into, creative juices flowing”. I clear my head by taking
even if I didn’t know I was into it. I’ve always been a walk, putting on some good tunes, or even just
drawn to a good aesthetic and I’ve always been into taking a shower, are some of the things I do to help
art; making it, viewing it, etc. Those are some of the get myself in the right head space.
things that sort of started as a launching point for
my interest in design. Do you feel successful is an effective way
to collaborate?
Do you have anything creative you like to
do that is not necessarily design oriented? I collaborate everyday in some way. I never like to
work on something beginning to end or design in
Design is life and everything is a reference. :) a “vacuum” as they say. Collaboration is often key

to pushing your design work to unexpected places
I know you currently work at Who is Owen and I work in a very collaborative environment at
Jones, but are there any other companies you Owen Jones.
work for or do you have your own personal
studio/company? What are the proudest accomplishments
of your career?
Although I am technically available for freelance
opportunites, my job at Owen takes up a healthy Finding my “niche” as a designer.
chunk of my time.
What have been the biggest struggles of
What was your first job as a designer and your career?
how did you get it?
Finding my “niche” as a designer.
My first job as a designer was wedding invitations for
my buddy, my first studio gig was at a studio called What do you love most about working in
MANA media that I was referred to by Lis Charman! Graphic Design?

What are your biggest motivators? Freedom to be creative everyday like it’s my job.
Norm McCuller 71
Graphic Designer

What is a skill/talent/trait that you have similar backgrounds who are in design or
that you feel really proud of? hoping to get into it?

My thinking. My unique background gives me a unique Don’t give up. You are good enough.
perspectives and thought processes.

Where do you see yourself in 5—10 years?Do

you think you will still be working as an

I’d like to be art director or a similar position that

allows me to make even more of the design decisions.

As a black design student going to a

predominantly white school, sometimes
it’s hard for me to connect with my peers or
not feel “other” when working with them. I'd
like to know if you have ever felt something
Don’t give up. You are good enough.

I’ve always tried to look for ways to connect with

people beyond the surface level to combat the
feeling of “other”. Growing up in this area, youre “other”
a lot and having the ability to find common ground
beyond outward characteristics has been key for
me in eliminating this feeling of “other”. Design, I’ve
found, is great common ground and I can always
connect with folks by starting a conversations about
design and/or art.

Why do you think there is a lack of diversity

(especially black people) in design? How do
you think we can solve this problem? ( or at
least start to solve/address it)

I think a lot of the lack of diversity is the lack of

knowledge and access. For me personally I didn’t
really know about specifically what design was until
later in my educational career. I think exposure and
access to design and design related career paths
at an earlier age/stage in education, can definitely
help solve the problems of diversity and access
within the design field.

What advice would you give to folks from

Norm McCuller 73
Graphic Designer
Norm McCuller 75
Graphic Designer

Happiness is something that has always

been a huge motivator for me. What is
the point of doing anything if it doesn’t
make you happy on some level? Also,
the ability to pay bills and eat food is
good, too.

—Norm McCuller
Norm McCuller 77
Graphic Designer
Loveis Wise 79

Loveis Wise
Tell me about yourself, early years and What has been some of the biggest struggles school that I attended and when folks aren’t being
where you come from. of your career? taught about these things, it becomes forgotten
history. There’s a huge need for professors or
I was born and raised in Washington,DC and then Because my career started pretty early, I had to schools to include illustrators/designers of color
moved to Prince George's County as I got a bit learn about how to maneuver quickly on my own into their curriculum because representation is
older. I had always had great interested in art and and it was a ton of just figuring out how to make so important. Lack of representation discourages
design as a kid and mostly fed that interested by the right decisions but a lot of those struggles young artists of color from even feeling like they can
getting involved in photography and drawing. became lessons that I’m grateful for. even have a seat at the table in these communities
which also increases the lack.
How did you first get interested in design/ Where do you see yourself in 5—10 years?Do
illustration? you think you will still be working as an What advice would you give to folks
Illustrator? from similar backgrounds who are in the
I got into illustration through a presentation that I Illustration field or hoping to get into it?
attended while declaring my major in art school I see myself expanding my business as an illustrator
and knew that it was what I was meant to do. and hopefully much more. I plan to continue working My advice would be to put yourself out there no
as an Illustrator for the rest of my life because it’s matter what! Persistence and patience with yourself
I understand that you are currently working what I love but I hope to branch out and experience is very important to a thriving and happy career.
as a freelance illustrator, but are there any other artistic mediums such as animation, fine art
other companies you work for or do you and painting or even playing music.
have your own personal studio/company?
As a black design student going to a
I run my own studio/company through my freelance predominantly white school, sometimes
work and I’m often subcontracted by other companies it’s hard for me to connect with my peers
for various projects such as NPR, The New Yorker, or not feel other when working with them.
The New York Times, Cartoon Network, and REI. I'd like to know if you've ever felt something
What was your first job as an Illustrator
and how did you get it? Most definitely! I also attended a PWI and a lot of
my peers or professors, mostly white males, did not
I was first hired by Refinery29, as a junior in undergrad, understand where I was coming from in my work
and I received this job by frequently posting my or overlooked me as a student. It often felt hard
work on Instagram and tagging so I’d be easier to to explain this to my peers or professors in fear of
find but an art director there had been following not being heard. I even experienced racism in the
my work for a while and reached out to me. classroom at the hands of a professor and I feel
like these experiences need to be discussed more.
Can I know a little bit about your process
when working? Is there anything special Why do you think there is a lack of diversity
you do to get the creative juices flowing? (especially black people) in creative fields?
How do you think we can solve this problem?
In illustration, alot of my projects move fairly
( or at least start to solve/address it)
quickly so I often my process lately has been
about drawing back to nostalgia. I often listen to I feel that there is a huge number of people of color
music or look at photos that help to to visualize in design, they just aren’t talked about or discussed
what I want to create and I love being able to take in academia. There were so many black and brown
inspiration from everywhere, meaning all art forms illustrators being left out the conversation in the art
whether it’s a film or a moment I’ve experienced.
Loveis Wise 81

There’s a huge need for professors or

schools to include illustrators/designers
of color into their curriculum because
representation is so important. Lack
of representation discourages young
artists of color from even feeling like
they can even have a seat at the table in
these communities which also increases
the lack.

—Loveis Wise
Loveis Wise 83
Loveis Wise 85
Rob Lewis 87
Art Director

A conversations with

Rob Lewis 89
Art Director

deidra: Ok, so a lot of my questions are going to be." Like: "What's your plan?" And I'm like, I have want to try advertising." I was like: "Oh, okay, let deidra: got, it, that's cool. that's a dope
be just about you, your background, and if any of eight months left, give me a moment." *laughs* me really do some research now." So, I start doing way to start! okay, i want to know if
them you don't feel comfortable answering, just some research, watching anything and everything there is anything creative you do that's
let me know and we'll move on. rob: Well, also, it's a different job market, you know I could about Wieden+Kennedy, and discovered not necessarily design or illustration
what I mean. It's you don't have to necessarily land that they had this program called WK12. based or anything like that?
rob: Ok your first job after you graduate. You just need
maybe a freelance gig for a couple of months until rob: WK12 was a school within Wieden+Kennedy rob: I cook a lot and I'm learning very slowly to
deidra: cool, first i’d like to hear about you figure it out. So, it's different now. where people would come from all over the country DJ, which is fun. It's about hand eye coordination.
yourself, your early years, where you and they didn't take ad kids, they took kids like me So, that part I get, but thinking in terms of music is
come from, just your background in deidra: Yeah, and I guess trying to explain that who were just creative, but didn't really know how really difficult for me. You know what i mean? It's
general. to them is hard for them to understand, 'cause to get into this field, but where really motivated to just not something that I even ... it's like a different
they're so used to this: "No, you have to have a do so. So, I was like: "This sounds perfect." So I had language.
rob: I come from Cincinnati, Ohio, and I grew up job, and you have to be constantly stable. Where Kinaata put me in contact with a person that he
in the early 90s, was a kid in the early 90s, and I always loved art, was always making it. are you going to live, and how you going to pay deidra: Yeah, I was a flutist for four years in middle
knew at Wieden, who then put me in contact with
that's when I started to discover that I liked to draw. I started to get my first inklings of what a for it?" They're also just worried of I'm the only kid a person who ran 12. The person who ran 12, his school high school and it was funny because I was
I would just draw Ninja Turtles and I would draw
creative industry was, maybe right before that's up north here. Everyone else is down south. name is Byron Oshiro, he ran Nike for a long time second chair for my first year and then first chair.
sports logos and video game characters. That in the Tokyo office. He was not only an educator, So, it's just like the better you are at playing, the
was pretty much the extent of it. I wasn't really I went to college, but didn’t have any idea rob: After we're done talking, I have a good but he was also a very seasoned professional. We higher the chair you are. So, I was first chair for four
aware that there was anything more outside of how to access it. resource for you.
talked for a while and developed a relationship, and years and basically how you beat me is you have
just enjoying it. Then, when I got to high school, I ultimately, he was just like, "Hey, I know you said to play a series of notes and if you beat me, you
discovered graffiti and that is kind of what drew me —Rob Lewis deidra: Okay, cool, awesome. So yea , it's been beat me, but I would always win. But the funny
that you're interested in 12, but we're in the middle
in to, "Oh, there's this thing called painting." And really great to hear that other people also didn't
of the school year, and I think you understand thing is my whole four years I never knew how to
then seeing all these different graffiti writers and really know what design was, but still found a way
way. He's a process person, so he can analyze Jamaica, and he immigrated here when he was 13. enough about the culture, and you're smart enough read music, like sheet music, because I was just
painters and some of which who had transitioned to get into it. So, that's what bumped me through.
things to get to a place that feels creative. If that He was one of the first people to go to college, but and curious enough to where you could probably like, I just do not understand it.
to becoming fine artists. I was like, "Oh, that's cool." get an internship."
makes sense? he didn't stay long because he was like, "Oh, I'm rob: Yeah. deidra: And so, I’d just wait until we go to class
just going to do it in one shot," and didn't realize
rob: It's the only thing I like to do, but when you're rob: So I was like, "Oh, yeah that sounds fun." And and my professor would hum the notes and I would
deidra: Yes. the actual struggle of being a black person in deidra: all right so, you kind of already
growing up in the black household, you can't really I literally did not have anything to lose. You know know which keys to play or I would see other people
just say, "Hey, I just want to be a painter." *laughs*
New York at the time, trying to go to college. So talked about it, but in those stages of
rob: So that's kind of ... But still, they weren't he ended up joining the military. But he really college and after college, how did what I mean? playing the keys when they would practice and
They[my parents] didn't really dig that, so then I artists, they weren't graphic designers, and they I would just mimic them and I did it that way for
likes RC airplanes and cars and things. He would you first get interested in design and
did some more research and discovered that one were the first people, I think, from their families to deidra: Mm-hmm (affirmative). four years straight. And I don't know how I did it,
draw 3Ds of them or 3D buildings. Then, my mom illustration and start your career as
of these graffiti writers, or people that I was into, go to college, so it was like, "What!?" You know? I really don't know how I made it. And then at the
immigrated from Guyana when she was like seven an art director?
was a professional illustrator and graphic designer. rob: I'd say, also, at the time, I was working at a end of it, my teacher was like, "I'm really sad you're
to New York. They met in that first year of college
It seemed like he made a good living, and I was deidra: Yea. rob: I mean, after college I went to law school, sneaker and lifestyle shop in Cincinnati. That was going," and yada, yada, yada. And I was like, I know
and ended up both joining the military. My mom's
like, "Oh, that's cool. That's a more stable version really another way I was accessing what art direction, and I'm sad too, but I've gotta be honest with you,
a creative person because she cooks, and she which was terrible. I learned pretty quickly that that
of this." But for whatever reason, they [my parents] rob: I ended up studying history, and stop me if and learning about product lines, and how brands I never knew how to read sheet music. So, if you
can cook from just watching other people cook. wasn't where I belonged, but I didn't know what
didn't understand that. this is way over what you asked me. will roll things out and retail environment and could next time make sure all your students can
She also will draw stuff. She just finds things to else to do. So, while I was in law school, one of my
concepting different things. You know what I mean? read, because I think that will be way helpful and
deidra: No no, you're good. do. She'll crochet, she'll knit, she'll make waist fraternity brothers named Kinaata. He worked at
rob: Because my dad's a scientist, so context: My I probably would've stuck it out longer, but I also
beads for people. Procter & Gamble and he worked on Old Spice.
dad is a chemical engineer, brilliant man. deidra: Yea yea. moved a whole lot. And so, I was like, I had to stop
rob: I studied history, which allowed me to just And I was just telling him one day, and we would
understand a little about a lot of different things. deidra: She just finds things to do. Like any school have these conversations. I would go down ... Did eventually. Yeah, music is tough, but it's fun.
deidra: Whoa! rob: It was a creative education that I kind of knew
Which is cool, I'm a curious person, so that was project I had as a kid and my mom helped out on, he live in Cincinnati at that point? Yeah he did ... that I was getting, but I didn't realize how much I was
So, I would go down and talk to him and we'd just rob: It is, it's a lot of fun.
rob: My mom, she worked in insurance for her fine, it wasn't boring. But I knew that that wasn't the there was always a little moment where she took learning until much later. That was another thing
whole career, but she was always active in ... She's thing. So, yeah, that's my early situation. I always over. *both laugh* It was like: "Just sit and let me have dinner or whatever. And he was like: "Well, if that was propelling me towards just taking the leap deidra: And then I know you do collage work
in Delta Sigma Theta sorority and all these different loved art, was always making it. I started to get make this perfect for you." Because she never really you're looking for something a bit more creative to and going: “You know what, I've tried everything as well on the Instagram, so that’s cool. And then
women advocacy groups and was always doing my first inklings of what a creative industry was, got to express that in her own household. But still, do, then you might like the agency that does our else, I'm going to actually try doing what I want you came a collage club and you made some
activism work around AIDS awareness and all these maybe right before I went to college, but didn't neither of them went into a creative field. So, I think communication work called Wieden+Kennedy. to do." And so, I ended up in Portland, as an intern really dope stuff.
different things. My mom is extremely creative, can have any idea how to access it. that's why they're a bit more open with me wanting And I was like: "Hmm, Interesting." at Wieden community, but I was in account and
cook, can sew, she can make things. So I saw that, to do something creative. But they're still just like would later become account and strategy intern. rob: Yeah, I started getting into collage while I was
and even though I didn't really realize that that's deidra: Awesome. Yeah, I think I told Joy yesterday. about “How are you paying for school” and “What rob: I had a friend in New York named Kenji,rhe's
But I was on Nike, so I was learning so much and at, I think it was when I moved here, but it was while
what it was ... Like, that's how I like the cook, and I was like, "I kind of had similar experiences between you going to do after?”.*laughs* And they're still like one of my closest friends. He was a strategist
interacting with the creatives and creative directors I was at Wieden's. And I was really fortunate to get
I think that's where me liking to really work with the both of you, where I like to draw and I love to asking now, since I'm about to graduate, they're at and agency called BBH. And so, he was kind
and seeing how that process worked. So that was a ... like how advertising agencies where you know
my hands probably comes from. paint and I knew these things." like, "Do you know where you want to work? Do of giving me what agency culture was like in New
... I just knew that I needed to get in the door and like there's copywriter, art director partners. So, I
you know what your one niche thing is going to York city. And I was like: "Oh, this sounds really
then I could figure it out. was a copywriter at the time. And which that is a
rob: My dad, he was creative, but just in a different deidra: My dad is in the military, but he's from cool." And the Kinaata was like: "Oh, you might
Rob Lewis 91
Art Director

whole different story that I can tell you some other at kamp grizzly and you obviously have boyfriend, I talked about that commercial a lot,
day, but ... shout out to Jim Riswald and Melanie your own studio space [we’re sitting in because it was my first time in a long time seeing a
Myers. They are awesome. And probably... they it], but are there any other companies you just whole body of melanin. And it's such a powerful
are like two of the biggest reasons I got to stay work for or do you have your own side statement, just how it was filmed, and everything
in Portland. So, I'm a copywriter and somebody thing that you do or anything like that? was just really great about it, and that's when I was
lets me know that a new art director is going to like, "No, I definitely have to do the thesis that I'm
be starting and I'm going to work with him and rob: Between Wieden and Kamp, I spend a couple going to do." So yea, thank you for that.
his name is Brandon Viney and I was like: "Great." months freelancing at the official manufacturing
Then he not only turned out to be black, but he company, OMFGCO, and that was such an amazing rob: Yeah, so me and Justin, and then a really
turned out to be one of the coolest people I have experience, just because they do really beautiful talented writer named Amiri Rose--who is also
ever met still to this day. work, but also it feels almost like an artist community. a fantastic photographer--and then Dushane
Everybody's really free with each other and kind. Ramsay who kind of led the creative strategy and
deidra: Dope. It's cool. And then other than that, I guess I'm positioning, and can really do everything, you know
starting to kind of examine what having an art what I mean? I think we all kind of understand
rob: We're still very good friends, and just cheer practice for myself looks like. That is like a more where each other's strengths are, and we just let
each other on even though we work in different tangible thing. I've been doing a lot of writing and each other do that. And then we just kind of try to
places. But that's my dude. He would become more thinking and kind of pinning of ideas in place, but I critically think and examine things and then ya,
than a mentor, more like a big brother to me. He haven't really assembled them yet or even know just see where things fall.
could see that ... Okay, copywriting is a good fit for if I have the right combination yet, so it's just kind
me, but he could see that I was after something else. of an ongoing process but it's fun. I feel like I at deidra: It was great, it was amazing. I loved it. I
He told he me, even before I could really wrap my least have a direction. still love it. I have it on a playlist, I show people,
mind around it and give myself permission to say I'm like, "Y'all need to see this shit." *both laugh*
it. He was like: "You're going to be an art director. deidra: You kind of did mention this already, so
I can tell." I was like: "Well, you're crazy. There's we can skip this question. It was what was your rob: Thank you! Sometimes it gets kind of difficult
no way that could ever happen. I didn't go to art first job, was it design, and how did you get it; so to really understand what doing this stuff even is
school. I didn't go to design school." And he was we did that one. So what are some of your biggest accomplishing sometimes, and so to hear out of the
like: "It doesn't matter." motivators? mouth of someone that I'm sitting and talking to,
it just kind of reinforces and gives you that energy
deidra: It's just going to happen. rob: I would definitely say my wife, Joy. Just in the to keep going, keep making, and keep putting the
sense that she's so prolific that I just don't want to amount of thought into things.
rob: Yeah. I was like: "You're crazy." But, eventually, look like trash.*both laugh* And she's just gonna
I annoyed him to teach me things, and did a lot of keep getting better and better, because she's deidra: Yes, please. Because it is inspiring a lot
trying to learn on my own, and eventually, just kind brilliant. But also, I would probably say just this of us out here. There's very few students of color
of willed it to happen. idea that you know my goal is really just to kind in the design program, and I know the majority of
of make these things that will serve as signals, or us have seen that commercial whereas a lot of
deidra: Yeah. Speaking it into existence!That's something, to someone later, and contribute to our white peers have not. And I mean to me, that
been like a big hashtag this year to speak things says something; but it's also like, it's kind of cool
this cannon of black artists in some kind of way.
into existence. that the people who need to see it are seeing it.
However small doesn't really matter, just to know
that was my goal, is just to create this body of work So that's really cool.
rob: Ya! So, there are a lot of people, too many to
and to leave it here.
name, that have given me really good advice and rob: why do you think there are still
accepted that I was still figuring things out, even so few design students of color? I kind
deidra: I will say it is working. For me personally,
though I was working, and gave me that freedom of understand, like in my generation of
so I saw this commercial on Netflix with all the black
to do so. Without that, you know... We're not sitting folks, why that is, but why do you think it
actors and actresses, and I was like "I gotta know
here having this conversation, you know what I still is, even though a lot of people have
who made this freaking commercial. “It was my first
mean? That is why I am particularly always willing grown up with creative parents now?
time actually being like, "Okay, I now understand
to help someone who wants to know something.
that there's an art director and a creative director
That's because if somebody didn't do that for me, deidra: I was actually gonna ask you a similar
that does these things and works on these things."
I would literally not be here. thing, so I can get your perspective for your
So I'm like, I'm gonna just look it up and find out.
generation too. So For me, I guess I'll talk about me
As I was researching questions for my thesis and
deidra: I feel that. I respect that a lot because I've personally and then what I think about in general.
doing all this brainstorming, that's when I found
met a lot of people who are like: "No, I figured it For me personally, it was more of a thing where
out that you and Justin Morris have both worked
out, you can do it too." I'm really grateful that so far like because I moved so often and then both my
on that, and then I was like, I'm not even gonna
the people I'm interviewing aren't like, "Here's an parents tried to go to college but weren't necessarily
lie, it was like fangirling a little bit, because I was
invoice for our interview." So, much respect to you. successful in doing it, it was a thing where they let
like, people who are down the street worked on
us be creative and things like that because they
deidra: so i know you currently work this commercial. A lot of my friends or even my
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Art Director

were creative too, but there still was this hidden I gotta go to college. What am I gonna do?"
elephant in the room of, "Can you really do that
as a job in the future?" Or it was just like a hobby, deidra: So I sat down with my yearbook advisor
it wasn't really seen as a job. It was like, "Oh, that's and I was like, "I really like yearbook, I really like
something you can do on the side and maybe playing with our different layouts and our typefaces
make a little bit of money, but what's gonna be and making graphics and things like that, and going
your main thing to do?" to take photos of everyone and picking the right
photos with the right text and things like that, and
deidra: I think for me as a young black student, how everything should be sized, and hierarchy
just having the access to even the terms. So in all and color theory. I'm using the terms now only
the schools that I've moved to, there would be jobs because I know them now, but back then I didn't
where my friends would kind of know the name, know these terms.
but didn't really know. I had never heard the name
of these jobs before. I didn't know you could be rob: Right.
an artist and have... When I was a kid seeing art
in the museum, I was like "Oh, these are people deidra: She said, "Oh, you might like graphic
who have died and their art was famous and now design." I was like, "What's that?" She was like,
it's in a museum." I wasn't thinking, "Oh, no, there's "You've never heard of that?" And I was like, "No.
living people who have this job and their art is in the What the hell is that?" And she was like, "Oh, it
museum, and they're making money." Everything can be lots of things, maybe go home and look it
in the museum, I was like, "This is old." *both laugh* up." And I did, then I started watching videos and
But as I got older, I was like, "No, some of this stuff I was like "Oh shit, this is like being an artist but
was made in the same year." with money." Which is kinda rude to say to artists,
because some of them make money. But that
deidra: And so then learning about graphic whole stereotype, you know.
design, I had never heard about that term until
I got to my junior year of high school. I’ve lived deidra: She was just like, "Yeah, just keep checking
it out." And so I did and I was like, "Alright, this is
in about 9 states. So I was in Kansas, we moved
what I want to do." And everyone was like, "Oh,
to Washington State, and I was miserable. I was
you're gonna change your mind," or like "Oh, are
told we weren't going to move anymore, when
you sure? Are you gonna make money doing
we moved to Kansas, and then we did, and I was
that?" And then I got scared, because I was always
like "I'm so tired of being the new kid. I'm also so
looking for colleges and not many of them have
tired of being the one black kid in the classroom"
that as a major. They only have it as a minor or it
And everyone just asked me questions about my
doesn't even exist,
hair or the food we eat, I was just so done. And
just one day I kinda just had a little meltdown in
rob: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
class where I was crying and I was just like, "I don't
wanna be here, I don't wanna make new friends. I deidra: and I was just like, "Oof." But my yearbook
just wanna get my degree and go." advisor, Sabrina Schongalla is one of the best people
on this planet, and she's from Portland, she was
deidra: And I had a social studies teacher who was
like "Oh, check out PSU. I know they have a great
like, "Hey, have you ever done an extracurricular
GD program." I looked it up, I saw that they actually
activity?" And I was like, "Nah." *both laugh* He was
were high in the ranks for the GD program. A lot
like, "Well, is there anything you like to do?" And I
of the professors are actual graphic designers.
was like, "I mean I draw and I doodle and I like art
and I'll watch other people do art," and he was like, deidra: So I came here with my mom on Labor
"Well, I think something that might be creative you Day weekend, and I really just, at the time, vibed
can put into practice and do as an activity after with the city and was like, "Alright, cool, I'm gonna
school would be yearbook." And I was like, "Alright, just do it." And then once I started school, that's
cool, whatever." I did it, and then I loved it. It started when I really started to do more research and just
out as just ten kids meeting two days out of the learn, because we don't actually start getting into
week, making the yearbook for 400+ students, working with Adobe or anything until our sophomore
and then the next year we got a full classroom. I year. So that's how I learned, but those were my
became editor-in-chief. And then I was thinking, struggles, just not really knowing that it existed at
because I was always thinking ahead, I was like, all, or my parents being like, "Yeah, we want you
"Alright, I'm gonna be a senior next year and then
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Art Director

rob: wow! collaborated with anyone on anything. And talking rob: I think biggest moments are definitely things
with Joy about working with people to build these like the strong black lead commercial, that was just
deidra: Yea, So that sucks. spaces for everyone, and I was like, "Yeah, if we're a perfect storm of a lot of things. And when I was
gonna design for a diverse country and all these at Weiden, we made a commercial where we got
deidra: but why do you think your diverse places, then we definitely need diverse to use the voice of Tupac Shakur and we worked
generation has a lack...i know there's people and to collaborate with people and to with his family and his estate to do that. It was the
some, obviously; you, joy, justin, all these work with people." Or if you know your team isn't first time his voice had ever appeared in a piece
people, but... diverse, then you definitely need to be talking to of communication. It was purely off the strength,
the people you're designing these things FOR so that they heard our idea and understood it and
rob: I would say, pretty much, for all the reasons
that the design is stronger, and that's most of an understood what it could be, and they were gracious
that you said, plus the fact that the Internet wasn't
I think there’s a lot of high schools where they quite as accessible then, you know what I mean?
interesting thing that's been going on so far. enough to allow us to do that, and we just tried to
don’t have a strong art program, or they don’t Wi-fi wasn't everywhere, you literally had to plug rob: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
do it justice. So definitely moments like that, and
even just like things that aren't necessarily things
have a digital tools class. I’m one of the few into something, and you couldn't just type into
that people see, but just giving myself the space
Google, "Hey, tell me everything about this." You deidra: So, do you have any past projects or
students where I didn’t know how to use the know? So I think the information's a little bit more current and upcoming projects that you can talk
and freedom to really feel like I'm doing this, you
Adobe programs until I got to college. freely now, and plus all those things that you said. about or are really excited about that you did? If
know what I mean? That's been really cool, to sort
of slowly start to break that wall down of "I don't
I think they were true then, too. they're top secret, that's okay.*both laugh*
really belong." You know?
—Deidra McKnight deidra: Yeah. It's a struggle, but we try. rob: We all get really good projects at Kamp. It's
rob: So that's been cool, but it's also been probably
kind of silly, nobody's working on anything wack,
deidra: alright, so i'd like to know a little the biggest challenge as well. Just because even
really. So really, I feel really fortunate about that.
bit about your process when working, or though I am really familiar with how common it is
But I think, kind of outside of Kamp, but not really.
is there anything special you do to get for people to be self taught in this industry, there's
Kamp has a studio, started an apparel brand called
to be creative. We're a family where we're in the classes versus design classes. So yea design's not Deidra: But where my black people at? Just to be your ideas flowing, the creative juices something that will still kind of eat at you, like,
Last Heavy and we're about to start production
means and times where we can allow you to be really talked about, even though it's everywhere like, there's professionals that look like me and just going, anything like that? "Well, if you would've just went to school, maybe
in season 3.
creative and not really shut down what you want to around us. Everything has some type of design to see that I can look up to this person and have that you would've figured this out faster." You know
do, but still confidently talking about what is your to it. So I think it's that, and then once you get to angle to where I can be in their position or similar. rob: (pauses to think) Not really. I don't think it's deidra: oh cool. what I mean?
job going to be and where are you going to go to college, it's kind of like if you're not going to a school special, anyway. But I like to take a lot of walks,
deidra: I think also there's not enough black so I'm constantly getting up from my desk, going rob: And it's been a really cool experience. deidra: Mm yea
school and how are you going to learn all this stuff?" where there's other people who look like you and
Even me getting a computer was a struggle. They can understand you, you feel this pressure of like, graphic design teachers teaching. So I think an outside, walking around, either listening to music Because it's technically under the Kamp umbrella,
or an interview or podcast or whatever. And just rob: But that's not even necessarily true. So just
were especially worried once...So my senior year, at least for me, "Is my work on the same level? Am accumulation of all of that is why people today still but Kamp's name isn't on it anywhere, but we have
giving my brain time to decompress and process kind of discerning between those moments of,
two months before I graduated, my house caught I producing the same great content? Because you don't. I also think it's just that school's expensive everybody in the studio can help make stuff, so it's
whatever it is, whether it's feedback or a new brief or okay, this is coming from a different place and
on fire and I lost everything. And so they were like, feel this pressure of competition, like is my work now, and I was told you have to go to school to this really ideal situation, and it's creative directed
just had a check-in with a creative director, whatever you need to just kind of put it to the side, or this is
"Are you sure you want to do graphic design?" And even making an impact or is it gonna matter, or get a job. And I'm realizing after that there's a lot by a friend of mine named Casey Oni, and I first
just happened, I always like to move around and your subconscious telling you you need to learn
I was like, "I'm going, sorry." *both Laugh* what's gonna happen?" I think a lot of people may of people who have been finding ways to not do met him freelancing at OMFGCO and gotten to
get out of the workspace for 10 minutes. It just something. And you just dive into it.
succumb to that pressure, and then they're like "I that, but they also have to grind hard every single know him over the past few years, and he's one of
deidra: I would say in general for students of can't do this, this life isn't for me" or "I don't belong day, waking up early to do everything, and I think helps reach that a little bit. And then I always like the most talented and driven but also cares about deidra: Ignoring that inner critic, and letting your
color, I do think it's just an access thing. I think in these spaces." And they're like, "Imma just dip." some people are just like, "Well, college is a bit to have books within arms reach wherever I am. I everybody he works with and he's one of those inner cheerleader…*laughs*
there's a lot of high schools where they don't have more structured, maybe, so I'm gonna do that." love that the Internet is what it is, but, I don't know. people who, even though he isn't in a position of
a strong art program, or they don't have a digital rob: *laughs* Yea But, yeah, that tuition rate is high. *laughs* So I There's something about having books within reach, setting the vision and stuff like that, he's the biggest rob: Ya, taking the message out of it.
tools class. I'm one of the few students where I think that too, just the cost of education hinders because it's like you know you chose this book for chill, you know what I mean? *both laugh* He wants
didn't know how to use the Adobe programs until deidra: And it sucks because I've had a lot of a lot of people nowadays. I mentor freshman and a certain reason, and so there's no searching. It's everybody to get their ideas and to contribute deidra: Yeah.
I got to college. There were a lot of people who people who are, I feel like, with more honing of so many of them are leaving literally just for the like, "Oh, I'm just going straight here." You know? them and for everybody to collaborate and to
were like, "Oh yeah, I've played with Photoshop their skills and learning they could have been cost of school. have fun and to be proud of the work that we're deidra: what do you love most about
as a kid in high school," or "I've played with video great designers, but just couldn't handle being deidra: Yea, no I get that. do you feel design is making. That's been a really cool thing to do. It's a working in design?
editing and make YouTube videos," and I'm like, the one black kid in their design class. Or the fact rob: man... an effective way to collaborate, and then
nice shift from doing more traditional client work
how? Where did you even get those programs? that we don't really see any designers of color how do you use design to collaborate? rob: I mean, I think for me, I'm a pretty quiet person
to have this kind of outlet to just be weird and silly
And that's been something that, with talking with in our classrooms. I haven't been taught about deidra: And they were like "Yeah, I wanna stay, unless I know you and we're friends, but I think
and loose, but still have a direction and wanting to
designers of color. Not to say that there's a type I like learning, but I literally can't pay for this, my rob: Yes, I think it definitely is. I think just the process design and art allow me to develop a language, or
peers who are also of color, that's been a common make really good stuff.
of style designers of color do, but just a lot of the parents can't pay for this; of making creative work in an agency setting is at least that's what I'm trying to do, and I can sort
thing where they're like "Yeah, I didn't know any of
work we look at are by white people. And I'm like, designed to be collaborative, and so we use it in of speak these things that I feel or communicate
that existed, or even if I did I didn't know where to deidra: That's dope.
"Dope, cool, Milton Glaser, made that the most rob: Sheesh pretty much every facet of things. these things that I feel or think about in a way that
get it," or "Yeah, my school didn't have it."
beautiful, iconic thing. Paula Scher, love you too. deidra: so far in your career, what have feels more natural than writing it. So that's probably
deidra: and it'd just be best if I live my life and deidra: Ya. I was talking to my peers, I also talked the biggest thing, is just that it's giving me the
deidra: So I think it starts with that, education. Art been your proudest moments, and what
then hopefully come back later." to Joy the other day about how I realize now and
and design especially--I do think there's more art rob: Mm-hmm (affirmative). have been some of your biggest struggles? vocabulary to say these things that I would never
while I was making these questions, I've never write or maybe say to someone else.
Rob Lewis 97
Art Director

deidra: That's cool. Yeah, I think I've had a few deidra: Mm, yea and needs to be at the forefront of anybody's mind
instances where I've made something and the who is designing for those communities. Sorry,
few people that do get it I'm like, glad they do. rob: So, getting better at doing that and kind of what was the other part of the question?
Because I can't explain it to you. combating it with being able to shift my perspective
in the moment as opposed to letting a thought deidra: just in your opinion, how can
rob: Yeah! kind of cripple me for the day. design be more accommodating to
underrepresented populations?
deidra: So that has also been a struggle with me, deidra: Yea. Alright. So, these are a little bit of
and the few projects that I have done that dealt tougher questions we're gonna get into, but hopefully rob: Oh okay then I think also to your point,
with my identity or with being black or being black not too tough. Again, if you're uncomfortable with incorporating the accomplishments of designers
in Portland, being in a school as predominantly any of them, you don't have to answer. where do and artists of color more into the mainstream
white sometimes is really tough during critique day, you see yourself in 5 or 10 years? do you curriculum. That also can make all the difference,
because I feel like I have to do extra explaining of think you'll stay in design in some shape just seeing that somebody, like you said--the
stuff for people to get it, versus when I show one or capacity? whole reason you're doing this, seeing someone
of my black or brown friends, they're like, "Oh yeah, that you can see yourself in that already got there.
that makes sense." rob: Yeah, I would hope so. I mean, my goal is to
do this until my hands don't work. So I feel like I'm deidra: Ya its like I wanna see if some of them
rob: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yea. really just getting started, so 5, 10 years, I would has a presentation of iconic things, that's like okay,
like to still be at Kamp doing cool stuff. But I guess, Milton Glaser, I love New York, Paula Scher with
deidra: Or sometimes people don't realize their you know, life also has its own plan, so I guess you that whole project with..why am I blanking
critiques are actually hurtful in a way, because just have to be ready to pivot. But in an ideal world,
they're not really understanding of the whole yeah. I'd be here, with Kamp still making cool stuff. rob: The theater?
meaning behind the piece or why I put said imagery
with said typography and things like that, so that's deidra: Yea, making cool stuff! Awesome. what deidra: Yeah, the theater. Rob Lewis, Strong
kind of been a little rough. Also, the learning curve would you like to see change about the black lead commercial *both laugh* All these
of just getting better at explaining things, I guess. design field? things I wanna see, all of them. Or even like, one
of my peers is doing their thesis on Puerto Rican
rob: Yea rob: Man, that's like a big question. *both laugh* I designers because his wife is Puerto Rican. He is
mean, the main thing is I wish some of the people white, but he is recognizing that there's actually a
Deidra: But ya, Let's see... i think you touched we're trying to reach had started younger, you lot of ways that Puerto Rican designers influenced
on this a little bit, but what is a skill or know? Because it's one thing for a person like graphic designers that we never hear about.
a talent or a trait that you have that me who's already out of college to discover it and
you feel really proud of? try to figure out how to get into it, but I just think rob: Oh, 100%!
about if at 15-16 I would've had, to your point, the
rob: Oh, man.(thinking) vocabulary to express what this was and how big
deidra: And he was telling me that there is this
whole essential movement that no one is being
of an industry that it already is, and that it's just as
deidra: It could also be something that, you're taught about. And I was like, "Bro, me and you, let's
stable as being in marketing or being in finance or
working on it and you feel like you've been working hook up."*both laugh*
whatever. I wish there were things that equipped
on it pretty good.
kids with those tools.
rob: You ever heard of Archie Boston?
rob: I feel like maybe I'm becoming a better
deidra: Same *laughs* how can design be
listener. I think when you're an introvert and used deidra: No.
more accommodating to underrepresented
to kind of being by yourself, you can just kind of
populations of people in your opinion? rob: He... really, really beautiful work was one
exist there in your own head and not realize how
maybe you're taking up space or how what you're of the earlier black graphic design professors,
rob: in what way?
doing is affecting what's happening around you. teaches a school out in California but I think he was
So just really trying to do the work to be more deidra: I guess in a way of education or in a way born and raised in Florida, and his older brother
mindful. Because, I mean, I'm a gentle person, so of as a designer, servicing people or servicing is also a graphic designer and they started their
if I'm doing something where you're like, "What are your community. own studio together.
you doing?" It's probably because I literally don't
rob: I think one is if you call yourself doing deidra: I'll have to look him up.
know. I'm just a weird kid. But yeah, that and just I
feel like I'm getting a lot better at distinguishing, something that is gonna affect a community of
rob: Yeah. You'll look him up and be like, "Whoa.
like we talked about earlier, distinguishing between people, then you need to at least hear them. So
There's somebody doing this in the 70s?" You know?
something I'm telling myself as a critique versus, that's one. You know, don't do any projects in
"Oh, this is a real thing you need to pay attention communities of color without understanding the deidra: Cool. Will do.
to." You know what I mean? history, the context, the trauma. All of that very,
very important information needs to be very clear deidra: Alright next, so, for me as a black
Rob Lewis 99
Art Director

design student going to a predominantly those resources with people trying to accomplish willing to just sit down and talk and bring me into
white school, sometimes it's been hard this, and I think that will happen. Just gotta... It their spaces and just be like, "Yeah, let's have this
for me to connect with my peers or not reminds me of I was listening to an interview of conversation," so thank you.
feel “other” when working with them. one of the co-founders of Roc-A-Fella Records,
so I'd like to know if you've ever felt Kareem 'Biggs' Burke, and he literally said "The rob: Yeah, of course.
something similar.? genius thing about us is that we didn't give up."
And I'm like, so all the things you've accomplished deidra: So, this part of the interview is kind of just
rob: Wait, can you repeat that? if you have any other questions for me, any advice
and the big takeaway that you want people to get
you'd like to give to me that I can share with other
is just to keep going? *both laugh* But then I was
deidra: So for me as a black design student, thinking about it, and I was like, "Yeah, that's kind people, stuff like that.
going to a school that's very white, sometimes it's
of what it is." You just have to keep going, and
hard for me to not feel “other” or like I don't belong rob: I feel like you're already doing everything
when you have the power of right or trying to do
when I'm working with them, so I just want to know that you need to do. You just gotta keep doing that
something good on your side, it kind of liberates
if you've ever felt something similar or sometimes self examination and figuring out what a career in
you to really go hard with it.
you do feel something similar. design looks like for you. Once that answer is really
crystallized in your head, then just make a plan.
deidra: Dope! And then last question, actually,
rob: Ah! Gotcha. Umm yes, in the sense that, you is what advice would you five to folks
know, sometimes when you're the only black kid deidra: Alright cool, then ya we got them all.
from similar backgrounds as yourself
in class, whenever there is a topic that concerns Thank you!
who are in design or hoping to get into it?
black people, all of a sudden you're kind of the
expert on it. rob: I would definitely say if you want to do that,
don't lose the filter of things that are interesting to
deidra: Right, you're the token. you outside of design, because you can learn all
the rules and who the pioneers and the visionaries
rob: And it's not even in the sense that I think
are and all that stuff, but if you're not contributing
anybody means to be tokenizing, but it's like if
any of your cultural, spiritual, you know, emotional
you're in the room and they legitimately don't
information to it, then it's just kind of devoid of
understand something, then you're probably the
anything; so you have to find ways for your references
closest person... You know what I mean?
and influences to remain intact as you're going
deidra: Yeah through your education. And then other than that,
I would say if you wanna know something or learn
rob: And it's like, I get that, but at the same time, something, reach out to someone. You know?
you know, there is many ways to be black as there More than likely, especially with creators of color,
are black people, so I can only tell you what I think I feel like we're more likely to get back to you and
about something from my perspective, you know? to help if we can because we understand that's
where you're coming from.
deidra: I have to say that a lot in class when
that happens, where I'm like, "Well, this is just my deidra: That's good. Yeah, actually we had a
opinion, as a black person, I do not speak for the classmate, she went to interview someone for
whole black community." That's something that is her thesis and they had already met previously
kinda within the culture at PSU. Like lots of people at an event, and she was like "Yeah, hit me up
of color have to make that statement before they anytime," and then they finalized their date for the
speak in class. And it's like I understand it, but I do meeting and the time, and then she was like "oh,
heavily wish it wasn't a thing. by the way I'll be sending you an email soon of
an invoice of $150 for my time." She was like, "Oh,
deidra: We already touched on this, it was just why I'm sorry, like I want to support you and support
do you think there's a lack of diversity, especially your business, but I was under the impression that
black people, in design?; so my second part of you were volunteering for the interview and just
that question is how do you think we can accepting of this. Yeah, I'm sorry, but I can't pay
solve this problem or at least start to this," and then the lady never responded to her,
solve or address it? to that email. And she was like, "I mean, if she had
told me from the beginning I would've probably
rob: I think in a lot of ways we are already starting been able to, but this just came out of left field. I
to address it and think of ways to solve it. I think it's was just like, wow." Yeah, so that's why again I've
just gonna take more people with resources sharing been really grateful that everyone has been so
Rob Lewis 101
Art Director
Kayla Bronson 105

Tell me about yourself, early years and I understand that you’re currently a graphic Well, I do have a soundcloud that is perfect when it
where you come from. design student, but are you working comes to background music. It acts as my starting
anywhere else? point and then once I get more focused I might
My name is Kayla Bronson, I’m 24 years old, a switch to some of my favorite songs in itunes. When
Leo, and I’ve been told I’m the human version of So, I major in Japanese but almost everyone I meet I don’t have a strong direction in mind as I start
Spongebob Squarepants. assumes I major in some kind of art since I draw drawing, I open my sketchbook, scroll through one
ALL the time so it’s very understandable. I’m so of my many reference picture folders, then jump
I like…manga (especially horror and especially passionate about both that I actually had a hard into it after I find something that really sparks my
Ito Junji), illustration, beetles (well, animals in time deciding what I wanted to go to school for. interest. On the other hand, when I suddenly get
general), soundcloud music, having way too many In the end, I determined my art was something I inspired I instantly go into artist mode and draw
friends, scary movies, fashion, being a personal needed to polish instead of “learn”, plus Japanese out my ideas until I’m satisfied with my results.
cheerleader, fungi, K-Pop, greek mythology, and would be so more difficult to do without proper
getting complimented. schooling, so it became my minor. For a long What have been your biggest struggles
time I was confused about where I belonged in being a design student? Being a Black
I don’t like… smelly vegetables, math, wasps, being the art program but while I was studying abroad design student?
told what to do, all kinds of nuts, institutionalized in Japan, I switched my minor to graphic design
oppression, most spiders, and expensive things. with the encouragement of my friends who were Mainly not feeling like I’m qualified or good enough
already involved with illustration. My dream is to to do any kind of professional work. Also struggling
My history is all over the place haha. I was born in with not seeing myself surrounded by people like
teach english in Japan but illustration is always do
Cincinnati, Ohio but I’ve also lived in Houston, Texas me. Finding black designers takes more effort and
whether it’s professionally or not.
and New Orleans, Louisiana (where my mom’s searching (so to speak).
side is from). I moved back to Cincinnati up until What was your first job as an designer and
I was in 8th grade then ended up in Clearwater, how did you get it? Where do you see yourself in 5—10 years?Do
FL through high school and community college. I you think you will still be working as an
made the solo decision to come to the west coast Aside from the occasional commission, I have yet Illustrator?
for a Japanese major and now I’m finally wrapping to do any professional design work but I would
up my time at PSU! love to illustrate a book someday! Idk, casual I’ve never considered illustration as a profession
commissions can count right? Sometimes I don’t but I will never stop doing it whether it’s for fun or
How did you first get interested in illustration? give myself enough credit haha. So far, all of my not. In 5 or 10 years I see myself being settled into
commissions have been done for friends and I’m life in Japan as a teacher. In an ideal world, I would
My mom said she bought me my first sketchbook illustrate on the side but I have no plans for that yet.
lucky they are so supportive of me!
at 2 years old and at first it was scribbles but I
remember being heavily influenced by Georgia What kind of work do you like to create? As a black design student going to a
O'Keeffe and drawing flowers like her all the time. I predominantly white school, sometimes
also had a huuuuge illustration book by Ed Emberley I like to illustrate with people as my usual subjects. it’s hard for me to connect with my peers
and I took it everywhere with me and would draw I have the OCs (original characters) I work with and or not feel other when working with them.
from a different section everyday. As I got older draw occasional fanart. I want to get more into I'd like to know if you've ever felt something
I had more television and computer access so I making my own zines! similar.
learned about manga and anime and drew from
that nonstop for years on end. After I found other Can I know a little bit about your process Yes absolutely. Going into a beginners class with
websites for artists, (ie. Deviantart, Pixiv, Drawr) when working? Is there anything special multiple people who have used photoshop since
I started drawing up more of my own ideas and you do to get the creative juices (ideas) middle school is actually terrifying!! As you can
characters and such and I haven’t stopped since! flowing? imagine, being put into a group with those people
is equally as horrific… but there’s always someone
Kayla Bronson 107

else on the same page as me which is always a relief.

Why do you think there is a lack of diversity

(especially black people) in creative fields?
How do you think we can solve this problem?
( or at least start to solve/address it)

I think there’s a lack of diversity because often For a long time I was confused about
times the message we receive is that we cannot
where I belonged in the art program but
do something instead of telling us to do what we
want. Maybe if representation was more prevalent while I was studying abroad in Japan, I
in the fields (ie. more famous POC artists/designers switched my minor to graphic design with
& publicising their artwork)
the encouragement of my friends who
What advice would you give to folks from were already involved with illustration.
similar backgrounds who are also wanting
My dream is to teach english in Japan
to get into the design field?
but illustration is always do whether it’s
Focus on you and your goals and try to not compare professionally or not.
yourself to others. You CAN do it!
Kayla Bronson 109
Erika Nathanielsz 111
Graphic Designer | Art Director

Erika Nathanielsz Being a design student in general, I think we all

Tell me about yourself, early years and design student, but are you working
where you come from. anywhere else? at some point question our talent, and compare
ourselves to others. Exercising self worth and
Hello! My name is Erika. I’m a graphic designer, I work on campus for the Center for Retail Leadership trusting your talent has been a difficult task for me,
and student at Portland State University. as their graphic designer + art director. Previously but one that I am slowly overcoming.
I was a technician at the Apple Store.
I was raised in Beaverton, Oregon. I moved from Being a Black design student at Portland State,
Los Angeles when I was 4 years old. My early What was your first job as an designer and I’ve realized there’s a lot of the similar issues that
years had a lot of beautiful moments and some how did you get it? have come up in my childhood as far as looking
that were very difficult. An aspect of my childhood around and realizing there aren’t other people
that I just am starting to process within the last My very first job as a designer, I want to say was who look like me. A lot of my work stems around
two years is, there weren’t a lot of people who to create a flyer for my friend’s show. I started off representing women of color. Sometimes I wish
looked like me where I grew up. I was raised in a doing a lot of work for musicians (album covers we had more black/brown students and teachers
very white suburban neighborhood. I remember etc.) because I used to be a background singer to this kind of representation. It wasn’t until my
always wanting to ‘fit in’ but couldn’t quite pinpoint myself. I just kind of naturally met other musicians Junior year in the program that I had a class with
what that really meant. who’d needed design work. other black girls.

As a child I was always someone who wanted What kind of work do you like to create? Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?Do
to try EVERYTHING. I grew up having dreams of you think you'll stay being a designer?
Right now I’m really loving page layout, as well as
being a fashion designer, an astronaut, an artist, a
starting to explore Art Direction. In this time, I’d like to see myself working towards
professional soccer player. That trait of wanting to
try everything still sticks with me today. being a Creative Director. Hopefully I’m living in a
Can I know a little bit about your process
luscious and diverse city (maybe NYC?) but who
when working? Is there anything special
How did you first get interested in design? knows!
you do to get the creative juices (ideas)
This came to me much later in my college career. flowing. As a black design student going to a
I always knew I wanted to do something creative predominantly white school, sometimes it’s
Finding inspiration is always the start for me. For Art
but wasn’t quite sure what. It wasn’t until I met my hard for me to connect with my peers or
Direction, there is always a story that I’m trying to
boyfriend, Gabriel (he’s a footwear designer) that not feel other when working with them. I'd
tell. Moodboards and gathering physical materials/
I realized you could make a living as a designer. I like to know if you've ever felt something
textures is usually a good place to start.
figured Graphic Design would be my bridge into similar.
a creative career. What have been your biggest struggles
Absolutely! For the first two years, I really didn’t
being a design student? Being a Black
I understand that you’re currently a graphic connect with any of my classmates beyond a
design student?
Erika Nathanielsz 113
Graphic Designer | Art Director

classroom setting. Nothing against them, there just

wasn’t a natural connection.

Why do you think there is a lack of diversity

(especially black people) in creative fields?
How do you think we can solve this problem?
( or at least start to solve/address it)
Don’t be afraid to reach out to other
I think that accessibility and visibility has a lot to do
designers of color and to look for a mentor.
with it. Sometimes it’s easier to pursue something
when you see other people who look like you, doing I guarantee you, they’ve probably had
that thing. I’d like to see more black/brown artists similar struggles breaking into this field
going into high schools and just simply talk about
what they do. You never know what kind of spark
and would be glad to give you advice,
you can give someone. This is something I’d like and/or mentor you!
to do (hopefully I can take Friendtorship next year)

What advice would you give to folks from

similar backgrounds who are also wanting
to get into the design field?

I would say, don’t be afraid to reach out to other

designers of color and to look for a mentor. I guarantee
you, they’ve probably had similar struggles breaking
into this field and would be glad to give you advice,
and/or mentor you!

Also, just start creating! Use whatever resources

you have whether it’s pen or paper, your school’s
computer, an app on your phone. Just start making.

And PLEASE, do not give up.

Erika Nathanielsz 115
Graphic Designer | Art Director
Erika Nathanielsz 117
Graphic Designer | Art Director
Corey Vasquez 119
Graphic Designer

Corey Vasquez
How did you first get interested in design? Can I know a little bit about your process
when working? Is there anything special you
I was a computer science major, and I didn't really do to get the creative juices (ideas) flowing
like how the major was setting me up. I saw a video
about the development of Firewatch, and how the That's a tough one. After I failed my portfolio review,
main design director was a graphic design major. So it got a lot harder for me to get started on design
I decided to do a graphic design minor, and I started work. I usually listen to music, or have some video
taking classes. A professor talked to me about it, and playing on the side. Anything that gets me happy.
convinced me to become a full time major.
What have been your biggest struggles
I understand that you’re currently a graphic being a design student? Being a Black design
design student, but are you working anywhere student?
I feel that I get a lot of personal attacks at PSU. There
I mostly do community work. Right now I work with is a lot of that.
CHNW. It's a Portland-based non-profit housing
company that caters exclusively to college students. As a person of color, I feel that a lot of people don't
I work for them as a Resident Ambassador. trust me on my process work, and feel like I'm being
lazy. Another issue I have is that I'm Dyslexic and the
What was your first job as an designer and GD program has a style that I have trouble following.
how did you get it? I usually have to do hand-lettering and illustration,
which I'm not really good at.
I don't know if I have a "first job" yet. I've done a lot
of community poster type work for CHNW. I also do The graphic design program has a style that I can't
some jobs for a local lottery company. follow. And I feel like a lot of new students to this
program can't follow it either.
What kind of work do you like to create?
Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?Do
I think I like creating backgrounds, anything to do you think you'll stay being a designer?
with layers, like layered backgrounds. I don't think
it's exactly graphic design work, to be honest. But I think I want to eventually be a teacher. But at the
I like doing it. same time, I think I want to make something, like my
own company. Maybe a design firm? I don't know
Corey Vasquez 121
Graphic Designer

As a black design student going to a similar backgrounds who are also wanting
predominantly white school, sometimes it’s to get into the design field?
hard for me to connect with my peers or not
feel other when working with them. I'd like to A lot of people are going to tell you what to do when
know if you've ever felt something similar. it comes to a career as a graphic designer. Trust your
own advice. Also It's important to understand that
Yeah, I've felt similarities. And maybe this is wrong you will fail and it's okay to fail. Grow from it.
thinking, but I feel like people don't trust me because
of my skin color. Or that they think I'm not qualified.
And sometimes, I feel like people won’t be friends
with me because of it.

Why do you think there is a lack of diversity

(especially black people) in creative fields?
How do you think we can solve this problem?
( or at least start to solve/address it)

First, a lot of the time, black students don't make it

past high school. Which immediately reduces their
chances of making it into a college oriented graphic Graphic design can pay just as well
design program. as a STEM career.
Second, the family of these students think the student
should not be a graphic designer. They think the
student should be something else, like a lawyer, or an
engineer, or something that pays more than graphic
design. This is an incorrect bias. Graphic design can
pay just as well as a STEM career.

Third, I think that black students aren't aware that

this is even a career option.

What advice would you give to folks from

Corey Vasquez 123
Graphic Designer
Corey Vasquez 125
Graphic Designer
Rheagan Dukes 127
Graphic Designer | Photographer

Rheagan Dukes 129
Graphic Designer | Photographer

Tell me about yourself, early years and my mom taught me how to draw different parts of What kind of work do you like to create?
where you come from. the face .I think the best thing she ever taught me
was how to draw lips .drawing lips are my favorite I would say the work I love to create is work that
I was born under the sun, in LOUISIANA ,Bbaton part. I take it pretty serious.*laughs* helps other people become better in whatever it
Rouge 1995, January 28th, #AQURIOUSGANG. is they are trying to accomplish creatively. I love
Grew up in Mississippi where my mom and most This was the only way I could make it through seeing a models confidence build and creativity
of her immediate family was born and raised. At 6 church ! ( excuse me lord Jesus) She taught me shine after shooting together or pairing up with
years old my mom moved us to Seattle, WA . Still how to draw hair , lips and eyes. I don’t have the another artist and creating something new while
spent almost every holiday , summer vacation and drawings today , except for one in my bible at building a new skill set.
spring break all in Mississippi. I traveled back and home . Ever since then my lip game has been A1.
forth a lot still keeping close to home. I still hate Adult swim late at night was my thing before bed. Can I know a little bit about your process
the cold and I miss the stars at night. As a child Although I wasn’t supposed to be awake at 10pm ,I when working? Is there anything special
I loved organizing and creating fun projects for watched it before bed all the time . Everyone knows you do to get the creative juices (ideas)
anything I was doing. Every summer from the time the best cartoons came on at night especially flowing.
I was 12 years old I designed my own babysitting anime . I’m an anime nerd . Am I ashamed ?? No
. Anime still to this day is my heart and soul. The Great energy and lots of tree. Once I get negative
fliers and hung them up every summer. I created
Japanese animation story lines and illustrations vibes I loose all interest in what I’m doing and move
pamphlets at school and in my moms office at work
styles broke so many barriers within animation. on to the next idea.
after watching Cats vs Dogs the movie .There was
a scene in the movie where the cats handed the Where American cartoons had four fingers anime
What have been your biggest struggles
mice pamphlets explaining their evil game plan. had all five. The story lines were incredibly detailed
being a design student? Being a Black
I loved it and thought every game plan needed a and challenging.One of the most influential anime
design student?
pamphlet !*laughs* cartoons that had an influence in my own style
is The Boondocks and Spirited Away. By the time Having a voice and feeling like what you have to
How did you first get interested in design? I was about 12 I believe , I started downloading say matters or is valid. Even though everyone tries
free programs in order to draw and digitally paint. I to make it seem as if everything is all good , the
I didn't know what design was until I was a believe my love of art and appreciation for helping passive energy is still there. I still feel like people
sophomore in college. Growing up I drew a lot on others through my creativity is what helped cater over all have a long way to go as far accepting my
my own, focused on fine art practices and thought me to getting into design. presence as a black female creative. I don’t mean
I wanted to be an animator. After sitting down on
playing the role of trying to accept other black
my ass for 12 hours everyday doing nothing but I understand that you’re currently a graphic
people weather it be in a creative space or not ,
stacks of illustrations that only moved less than design student, but are you working
racism is still present in others actions, lack of action
a quarter of an inch , I was no longer interested . anywhere else?
and vibes. I can definitely feel when people try too
Although I appreciate the art of animation , it is not
Currently I am working within my own creative hard to accept my presence or when it’s actually
for me . Fortunately, the entire time I attended the art
studio with other artists of color and aspiring genuine. There are very few people, that I;ve met,
institute of Portland , everyone down to professors
creative models . I’m also a creative merchandiser of the opposite race where it’s genuine. Almost
confused me with the other design students. So I
for Forever 21. Them discounts be hittin! everyone who is not black always subconsciously
left and ended up at PSU in the design program.
feels like they need to validate themselves and
As a kid I learned how to draw through various What was your first job as an designer and make sure I understand they aren’t racist or are
times in my life, from my mom in church keeping how did you get it? capable of accepting me in some way. Genuine
me preoccupied and by watching my favorite people are cool with me . Being genuine doesn’t
cartoons shows as a child. FLCL ,Courage the My first job as a designer I don’t believe has mean saying your not racist , or mentioning the
Cowardly Dog, CatDog , Rin and Stimpy and the happened just yet, but when it does you will be three black friends you have or turning every
Boondocks! Every Sunday we went to church,but the first to know! *laughs* conversation we have into race and why they may
it was hard for me to focus. So to keep me busy feel it’s[racism] wrong , trying to relate on some
Rheagan Dukes 131
Graphic Designer | Photographer

level. Genuine is just being present , living in the my people don’t always value art or see value in
moment , and having conversations between two creative skills. How could you when your fighting
people , two creative people. Beyond that I do me for your life in the streets everyday or worried about
and have always done me and if you don’t like me making ends meet? Certain lifestyles don’t cater
then , oh well. *laughs* Start a club about it. Either to creative opportunities and in turn it’s normal to
way I’m always going to enjoy what I do weather not see the value or really pay attention. We need
my presence is welcomed or not . I love being a parents teaching their kids about the arts, maybe
black female creative , I have so much flavor to offer! even teaching the parents so that it stays within
the everyday home.
Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
Do you think you'll stay being a designer? What advice would you give to folks from
similar backgrounds who are also wanting
Running shit , the right way. And most importantly to get into the design field?
the best way I can for myself and other black
creatives. I’ve had so many bad experiences that Show love , always even to the ugliest soul. But be
I believe have taught me what I won’t do or what I smart about your circle and who you keep around
will do to help create a better creative community you. Most importantly, Just do you and crush ‘em.
for myself and my people. We deserve that voice By any means necessary.
, and running my own studio will give others like
me a better chance earlier on within their creative
journey. I want everyone to be better than who they
were yesterday and to always strive to become
the best. I’ll always be in design.

As a black design student going to a

predominantly white school, sometimes
it’s hard for me to connect with my peers
or not feel “other” when working with
them. I'd like to know if you've ever felt
something similar?

All the time. I call myself the black sheep. Literally I want everyone to be better than who
Why do you think there is a lack of diversity they were yesterday and to always
(especially black people) in creative fields? strive to become the best. I’ll always
How do you think we can solve this problem?
( Or at least start to solve/address it)
be in design.

Opportunity, money and nurture. To solve this we

should go to inner city schools and the hood and
get younger creatives excited about refining their
craft. Showing them another lifestyle and mindset
they don’t see everyday at home and fundraising
programs to offer such creative opportunities .
Nurture is all about your environment and as a whole
Rheagan Dukes 133
Graphic Designer | Photographer
Rheagan Dukes 135
Graphic Designer | Photographer
Jamila Carter 137
Graphic Designer

Jamila Carter 139
Graphic Designer

My biggest struggle being a design student

of color is probably that some people
don’t take my ideas seriously.

Tell me about yourself, early years and What kind of work do you like to create? Honestly I didn’t feel connected to the program
where you come from. until Junior/Senior year.
I tried to keep all my work clean, focused and
I’ve been in the program for the past 4 years. But experimental. I love branding and page layout. Why do you think there is a lack of diversity
before I was a military brat born in virginia. I’ve (especially black people) in creative fields?
live in Connecticut, Hawaii, Nebraska, and in high Can I know a little bit about your process How do you think we can solve this problem?
school my family and I moved to Oregon. when working? Is there anything special ( or at least start to solve/address it)
you do to get the creative juices (ideas)
How did you first get interested in design? flowing. I feel like there is a plethora of reasons there is
a lack of people of color in design fields. Money,
I had taken an art and technology class in high I put in my earpods, blast my favorite tunes and get opportunities, and overall exposure.
school and that was basically my first introduction to sketching. As well as I look up some inspiration
to photoshop. We had to make magazine covers from a variety of sources (IG, Pinterest, etc.) What advice would you give to folks from
and posters and I realized I really enjoyed the similar backgrounds who are also wanting
layout aspect of the projects. And from then I did What have been your biggest struggles to get into the design field?
more research about art and technology and fell being a design student? Being a Black
design student? DO YOU BOO. Go for it, take a risk. I like to call
in love with graphic design.
myself a creative risk taker, but I am just a risk
I understand that you’re currently a graphic My biggest struggle being a design student of taker in general! Also do NOT let anyone tell you
design student, but are you working color is probably that some people don’t take my you can’t do something because of the color of
anywhere else? ideas seriously. your skin. Make cool shit!

Right now I am a part timer sever and part time Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?Do
drafter. you think you'll stay being a designer?

What was your first job as an designer and 5 years is so close yet so far away. I hope to making
how did you get it? cool shit, maybe own a business, and making A LOT
of $$$. Definitely will always be a designer at heart.
Studio5 was my first time I had a job as a designer.
Basically I “won” the job haha. The client liked my As a black design student going to a
logo the most and said it fit with their business the predominantly white school, sometimes
best, so I did a rebrand for them and worked with it’s hard for me to connect with my peers
them for 3 months or not feel other when working with them.
I'd like to know if you've ever felt something
Jamila Carter 141
Graphic Designer

sigourney jon patricia

weaver voight arquette

walt disney pictures presents

the award winning novel comes to life

can you dig it?


Jamila Carter 143
Graphic Designer
Contributors References
Corey Vasquez Glenford laughton
@ ers-know-part-1/
Erika Nathanielsz
@erikasaidhello AIGA Design Journeys essays

Jamila Carter Creative Pro

Kayla Bronson
Chicago Tribune
Loveis Wise
@loveiswiseillu rican-american-design-chicago-1206-story.html
Design Observer
Norm Mcculler
@ st0rm1n tion-as-social-equity/39565

Rheagan Dukes

Rob Lewis

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