Where the design community meets.
Atlanta, GA Creative Strategist at Glitch Joined about 6 years ago via an invitation from Nathan P.
When I first heard about Jerome Harris' exhibit "As, Not For: Dethroning Our Absolutes," I knew I had to interview him for the podcast. I was thrilled to hear him speak at this year's Black in Design Conference back in October, and this conversation follows directly after that event.
Jerome does it all — he's a graphic designer, an educator, a writer, a curator, a DJ, and even a choreographer! We touched on all those aspects in this interview, starting off with talking about his current work at Housing Works. From there, we discussed the trajectory of Black graphic design, and how that guided him through his studies at Temple and Yale and inspired his exhibit. Jerome also shares some of his current influences, and we step into the future a bit and look at what Jerome would want to work on in 2025.
Keep an eye out for Jerome — his perspective and candor are a refreshing antidote to current design discourse, and I think we'll see a lot more from him soon!
I knew about Aricka Lewis through our mutual volunteer work through AIGA, so I'm really glad we had a chance to talk so I could learn more about her!
Aricka is a senior UX designer at Ad Hoc, as well as an adjunct professor at the University of Arkansas, so our conversation began talking about the ins and outs of her work, as well as what it feels like teaching at her alma mater. We also spoke a bit about design communities in non-urban metropolitan areas and other designers who influence her, plus I learned about Aricka's vocal stylings with the band The Honey Collective. According to Aricka, designers shouldn't be afraid to put themselves out there, and I think this interview really drives that point home!
While the internet has helped loads of people get into design, it's design educators like Jennifer White-Johnson who really help teach the next generation of our industry. As a multidisciplinary artist, designer, photographer, activist, and advocate, Jennifer brings all this to her work as an assistant professor of visual communications and digital media arts at Bowie State University.
Our conversation began with talking about HBCUs and the responsibility they bear, and we discussed Jennifer's background in art and photography and how a small stint at MICA prepared her for her current teaching career. We also talked about KnoxRoks, an advocacy photo zine dedicated to her son which helps give visibility to children of color in the autism community. As we move into 2020, I'm glad for this conversation and I hope it helps you think about how you can use your design talent in the world!
The best way I can describe Ari Melenciano is that she is a renaissance talent. As an artist, researcher, and creative technologist, Ari is always finding new ways to express herself, speak to social issues, and find ways to use her art to enhance the lives of everyday people.
Ari talked about her residency at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program, which helped her create Afrotectopia, a multi-day new media arts, culture and technology festival. She also spoke about growing up around art and music, including how technology ended up being the catalyst for the work she does now. I don't want to spoil this great conversation too much -- we were both coming off of this year's Black in Design Conference, and I think you'll really feel the spirit and energy that both of us still had from the event! Ari is out here doing important and vital work, and this episode captures that perfectly. Thank you Ari for showing us a vision of an equitable future!
As designers, we are uniquely equipped with the skills to tackle any number of problems. Randy Ellis knows this, and our conversation really reflects just how much of his career and creative energy goes towards this very goal.
We talked about his work through his consultancy, 5ivehat UX Agency, and then went into a spirited discussion on diversity in the design community. We also touched on design education and the for-profit university model, teaching at General Assembly, and even cryptocurrency! It's a great big world out there, and it's clear that Randy has what it takes to make an impact!
Y'all, we are starting off November with a really inspiring interview with DevOps engineer and tech education enthusiast Aaron Brooks. By day, he uses his skills at Baltimore-based software development company Fearless, and by night, he's helping educate the next generation of techies through MASTERMND Academy, a free 12-week bootcamp that he livestreams on Twitch. (And I thought I was busy!)
We started off with a look at Aaron's day-to-day work, and he shared how his first exposure to tech turned him from being a consumer to a creator. Aaron also reflected back on his career, sharing some of the experiences which shaped him into the developer he is today. And of course, we talked about MASTERMND, and Aaron gave some advice on skills software developers need to succeed in today's market. Aaron is a shining example of someone who has achieved great things thanks to technology, so I hope his story can motivate you as well!
As an engineering manager at Abstract, Dee Tuck juggles a lot. But whether it's overseeing teams or recruiting and retaining talent, Dee makes sure that diversity and inclusion are a crucial element of her work from day to day. That's where we began our conversation, but wait...there's more!
Dee talked about her time attending the illustrious Tuskegee University, gave insight on where her strong sense of ambition stems from, and talked about the importance of bringing your whole self to work. According to Dee, the journey isn't always easy, but the payoff is definitely worth it!
Adrian Franks is a one-of-a-kind renaissance man. His work as a UX creative director at IBM focuses on experience design (iX) for their global business services brand, but trust me -- his skills don't stop there.
Our conversation began with Adrian walking us through his typical days of meetings and projects, but things really came alive when we talked about his days growing up and learning design in Atlanta. Adrian also talked about how he connected with the venerable film maker Spike Lee for a series of art projects, and shared some great advice on the types of skills designers need to have in order to achieve their best work. I'm so glad we have designers like Adrian out there who can show us what the true possibilities of creativity can be!
Civic design focuses on the common good, and no one quite sums up just how vital that is to our local communities than this week's guest, Sabrina Dorsainvil. As the director of civic design for the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics in Boston, MA, she uses her skills as a designer and illustrator to develop strategic, human-centered designs that address some of the city's most complex issues.
Of course, I was fascinated to learn more about this, so Sabrina described what civic design is about, how she approaches new projects, and the challenges she faces creating solutions that inform and serve hundreds of thousands of people. She also gave some great advice for designers and creatives who want to get more involved in their local communities, and even talked about her work as a design advisor for NY-based design studio designing the WE. Sabrina attributes trusting her passion as her main motivator for success, and I think you'll get inspired from hearing more about her story and her work!
Dantley Davis has been a mainstay in the Silicon Valley tech and design community for almost 20 years. His work at PayPal, SAP, Yahoo!, Netflix, and Facebook have all led him to his current role as VP of design and research for one of the most well-known websites in the world — Twitter. So as you can imagine, I had a lot of questions to ask him, and Dantley was gracious enough to give some insight into what he does and on his perspective of the current tech and design industries.
Our wide-ranging conversation touched on a number of topics, but first, Dantley talked a bit about the behind-the-scenes work that goes on at Twitter, including the team he leads, diversity and inclusion efforts, how decisions are made at Twitter (such as their latest redesign), and yes…even Black Twitter. Dantley also shared his story of growing up as a military brat, learning to code and landing in San Francisco during the Browser Wars, and spoke on how he stays authentic to himself after being in Silicon Valley for decades. Dantley Davis is a true design leader, and even if you haven’t heard of him before this week’s interview, chances are that you have experienced his work in some small way. He is truly a pioneer in this digital age!
Where the design community meets.
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