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Umber Magazine

Umber is a new design magazine that explores the perspective of creatives and people of color. Mike Nicholls is a creative director, designer and illustrator in Oakland, California, and he has a Kickstarter campaign to support printing and distribution of the first issue. We met last week to talk about the magazine and how it can give voice to people that don’t fit into one particular box.

Mike Nicholls, the creator of Umber, smiling.

Mike Nicholls, the creator of Umber, meeting to share a cup of tea and talk about the magazine. (Photo by Jenny Zhou)

Mike has an intense energy about him when we meet. He’s smiling and serious at the same time. After sharing his love of painting and illustration, he reveals an abiding affection for type and design. He nearly moved to Switzerland to seek mentorship from world-renowned typographer Wolfgang Weingart, after all. Design has been Mike’s life for two decades and like many designers, the graphic design magazine Emigre was a solid inspiration when he was in school for design. Shortly after Emigre stopped publishing in 2005, there was a void in the conversation about design. For Nicholls, this was most palpable in the high art and design magazines – he noticed that there were hardly any black or brown people in those pages. He saw an isolation that felt like his life.

In 2006, while he was living in Philadelphia, he started to do something about it.

“Every job I had,” says Nicholls, “I was the only black person and sometimes the first. The first and only.”

He understood that people work with their friends who are often similar in race and perspective. He knew that the exclusion might not be intentional, but he started to wonder, “What if I… put all these people in once space? What if I was to make it myself?” And so, Umber was born. Rather than drawing attention to the division, Nicholls wants Umber to show what it’s like to be vulnerable – to fuel creativity and curiosity so that we can move towards healing. Nicholls wants to see Umber accelerate that movement.

For the first issue, Umber invites contributors to reflect on the perspectives of people of color. Nearly all contributors are people of color, and this first issue will talk about how they embrace vulnerability to grow as artists. Articles will look across broad creative disciplines. Ndubuisi Madu will take a look at his transition from visual designer to user experience and product designer. Baba Afolabi will talk about the cultural benefits of bringing people together around fashion. The first issue also includes reflections on the African migrant experience from an Ethiopian-American performance artist in Washington DC. Umber is bringing people together to peer deep into their identity beyond the obvious.

Photo of arms with Umber magazine.

Mike sharing the 2012 prototype for Umber magazine. (Photo by Jenny Zhou)

As part of the Kickstarter campaign for Umber, Nicholls is offering to illustrate his contributors. He wants to keep building on the connection between the contributor and the artist. As another reward for pledging on Kickstarter, he is offering two exclusive advertisements for an otherwise ad-free magazine. He wants the ads to be part of history, created together. Nicholls explains, “The nuance is what drives our design.”

Umber is for people who don’t fit in easily anywhere. “Being uncomfortable,” says Nicholls, “being vulnerable is how you grow.” Holding on to that ocean wave of change, Nicholls hopes to show that sticking with the turmoil will help us rise above and grow together.

Check out the Kickstarter campaign to contribute. The campaign ends on July 15.

Vectors is a half-day event during AIGA’s Design Week that explores identity in design and how it impacts work, communities, and the world at large.

Some of the most innovative minds in the design industry will discuss the interwoven characteristics of creative work and daily life. You’ll hear from Pablo Stanley, Robyn Kanner, Cathy Lo, and many others, including past Revision Path guests Chikezie Ejiasi and Jacinda Walker!

At Vectors, you will connect with designers from different backgrounds who will share how they have used their perspective as a superpower. In turn, you will leave the event inspired to leverage what is uniquely you.

Vectors will take place at Stripe HQ in San Francisco on June 15th. Tickets are $20 for general admission and free for students. Space is limited so, visit and register today!

Get Your Tickets for Vectors!

If you’ve spent any time in our Slack community, then you know it’s a great resource for finding all kinds of information.

We’ve decided to take that a step further, and today we’re debuting our new Deals page! Now you can take advantage of discounts from some of our sponsors — Hover and SiteGround — as well as a number of deep discounts on icons, mockups, themes, graphics, and much much more.

Each purchase helps benefit Revision Path, so if you need a domain, web hosting, or any kinds of assets for your project, start your search with us! Our deals page will be updated regularly, so make sure you keep checking back for new discounts!

Revision Path has a new premiere sponsor — SiteGround! We switched web hosts last year to SiteGround, and I am thrilled that they are helping support Revision Path and our mission. SiteGround will also be a title sponsor for our sister site, 28 Days of the Web.

Since 2004, SiteGround has empowered web professionals and beginners alike to build better, faster and safer websites easily without having to worry about web hosting. They believe in keeping the web open and independent, and they’ve been long-trusted by the WordPress community for their customer service and reliability.

Wanna sign up for SiteGround? They are offering a fantastic deal to our audience — 60% off all hosting plans! Check them out at

What an awesome way to end out February!

What a dope way to kick off our anniversary month!

I’m honored that Revision Path is showcased on iTunes with a host of other great Black podcasts for Black History Month!

When you go to the iTunes Store and go to the Podcasts section, you’ll see a graphic titled “The Black Experience” in the big featured carousel at the top of the page. We’re in the the “Perspectives and Interviews” section, and we’re in great company with shows like Reaganomics, The Combat Jack Show, Danyelliot, and many others.

What a nice surprise!

For more great Black (and PoC) podcasts, check out!