Where the design community meets.
Atlanta, GA creator/host of Revision Path Joined about 7 years ago via an invitation from Nathan P.
RECOGNIZE is a design anthology that features essays and commentary from indigenous people and people of color — the next generation of emerging design voices.
We started out 2020 with a lot of plans for RECOGNIZE, but once COVID-19 became a reality, we had to unexpectedly change course after a series of issues threatened whether or not we could even publish a second volume. After a three-month planning period and reworking a few deadlines, we managed to keep RECOGNIZE going and come through with this year for you, the design community. Enjoy!
For our 375th episode, I had the opportunity to sit down with Bennie F. Johnson, the new executive director of AIGA, the professional organization for design. As the first Black executive director in AIGA’s 100+ year history, Bennie is taking on a huge responsibility. When I asked him how he felt about this, he gave me two words: “boldly hopeful!”
Bennie talked about what attracted him to this role, and how he’s managed to grow into it during this tumultuous year. We also discussed a number of other topics, including AIGA and today’s modern designer, diversity and inclusion, as well as some of this year’s recent public exits from members. Bennie is working hard on building (and rebuilding) AIGA, and I’m glad we are having this conversation on Revision Path!
The journey of a creative is never a straightforward path, and Mark Smith knows this well. As the head of design of Studio Mark Smith, he’s went from designing t-shirts and textiles in NYC for urban apparel brands like Avirex to studying design at Auburn University to serving as the head of idea and innovation for iconic luxury brand Swarovski. Whoa!
Mark and I talked about his current project — a collection of jewelry — and he spoke about his time working in Austria and Denmark. We also discussed his time at Pratt Institute in the 1990s and how that brought him to southern Alabama and the creation of DesignSeed, a project to help leverage local resources to create design-based startups. Mark also spoke about redefining the concept of luxury in our current pandemic times, the challenges of designing for an international audience, and what success looks like for him now at this stage of his career. From the country to Copenhagen, Mark Smith is a true design visionary!
Dana James Mwangi has really helped put Memphis, TN on the map when it comes to design and the creative community. As a web and branding consultant, Dana helps companies and creative entrepreneurs reach the next level of their business through her agency, Cheers Creative. But as you’ll hear in our interview, Dana is all about striving for excellence while also knowing your value and taking care of yourself.
We talked about how she started Cheers Creative, and walked me through her process for beginning new projects. She also shared some great tips for entrepreneurs on pricing and business, including how she’s kept business booming through the pandemic. Dana also reflected on her early career, spoke on how she built up her confidence as a businesswoman, and spoke on what she wants to do in the next five years. Dana James Mwangi — remember that name, because you’ll definitely hear more about her in the future!
Camille Selvon Abrahams is a trailblazer in the animation industry. Not only did she co-found the first outsourcing animation studio in the Caribbean — Full Circle Animation Studio — but she also heads up animation studies at the University of Trinidad and Tobago and is the founding director of the Animae Caribe Animation Festival! And she’s still making history!
We had a pretty wide ranging conversation, and talked about her creative process, networking with other Black animators in the industry, the power of the African diaspora, and how she uses of storytelling to help with her work as a digital activist. According to Camille, we don’t need to ask permission to tell our stories, and I couldn’t agree more. Learn more about Camille and tap into your inner creative!
2020 has been a year full of difficult changes for a lot of people, but Darold Pinnock has managed to navigate this difficult time pretty well! Aside from his work as a brand designer for Georgia-based agency M&R Marketing, he’s also interviewed creatives and artists from all over the world through his podcast Passion Behind The Art.
We talked about the changes and challenges with working in person in the office during COVID-19, and he shared how his love of architecture led him into creating his own studio, as well as how starting his podcast helped him get clients. Darold also discussed how his faith and family help motivate him, spoke about growing up in Jamaica, and gave some great advice on how we can all help build a more equitable future. Take these words of wisdom from Darold and go after your dreams!
If you live in the United States and have read the funny pages any time within the past 30 years, then you already know about the work from this week’s guest. Ray Billingsley is the creator of Curtis, the daily comic that follows the life and times of a precocious 11-year-old Black boy, his family, and his classmates. I’m so glad to have the opportunity to share this conversation with a cartoon legend.
Ray gave an introduction to the Curtis comic universe, and talked about growing up in North Carolina and New York as a youth, attending SVA and working for Disney, and how he got his first national comic before beginning work on Curtis. Ray also shared his thoughts on new Black comic artists, discussed the value of peer mentorship, and spoke about what’s in the future for him and the strip. Ray’s diligence and steadfast commitment to his body of work is something every creative should take to heart, and I hope his story inspires you to pick up the baton and keep running that race!
Tech can be a lucrative career, but how many of us think of it as a way to close the wealth gap in the Black community? Nici Kelly does, and I love that her mission is to show people the different pathways into tech and tech entrepreneurship as a way to build a legacy.
We started off talking about Nici’s company, Care Covr, and her inspiration behind starting it in the midst of a global health pandemic. Our conversation continued when Nici talked about building Black wealth, her early introductions to technology, working in and with the Atlanta tech community, and what motivates her to keep going while also giving back to others.
Remember the name Nici Kelly, because I definitely think you’ll hear more about her for years to come!
Britt Lyle II is more than just a designer — he contains multitudes. Currently, he works as a graphics assistant at AMB Sports + Entertainment, where he helps out on visuals used by the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United. But outside of work? That’s when you see the different facets of what makes Britt unique.
We started our conversation discussing Britt’s work, which led to him talking about growing up in Orlando and attending Florida A&M University and studying through their esteemed design program. He also shared his story about moving to Atlanta and attending SCAD for graduate school, falling in love with motion graphics, and shared some of his other talents, including glitch art and cosplay!
Being a designer doesn’t mean having just one skill, and Britt is living proof of that!
Lately, I have been doing a deep dive into the magazine archives of EBONY and JET. While skimming the masthead of one of the old issues, I stumbled across this week’s guest — Brandi Davis! Brandi served as Johnson Publishing Company’s web designer from 2004-2012, and was front and center at the company’s shift from print to web. Wait until you hear her anecdotes about working there!
While we do spend a good bit of time talking about that portion of her career, we also talked about the importance of Black media online, how she has expanded into doing art therapy, and we dive into Brandi’s latest creative project — her own line of custom apparel inspired by her faith, her life, the culture, and her love for the city of Chicago. Brandi’s drive and tenacity are the keys to her success, and I think after this interview, you will be motivated to conquer your own fears as well!
Where the design community meets.
Designer News is a large, global community of people working or interested in design and technology.