Dr. Cheryl D. Miller

What can I say about Dr. Cheryl D. Miller that hasn’t already been said? Her groundbreaking work as a designer in the 1980s and 1990s has paved the way for Black designers in this industry. Her first-hand knowledge and experience is sought after by colleges and universities all over the country. And now, in this season of her life, she is being celebrated and awarded as a pioneering figure in the field of contemporary graphic design by AIGA, The One Club, Cooper Hewitt, IBM, and many others. Honestly, I couldn’t think of a better guest to have for this episode!

Cheryl and I talked about her recent work as a design educator, and she shared her newfound dedication to writing and why it’s so important to transition from oral tradition to scholarship. She also shared her interest in new tech, and spoke about mentoring younger designers who are blazing their own trails in the industry. Lastly, we explored what success looks like for her now, and she talked about what’s coming up next as her passions for art, writing, and design intersect. Sit back and enjoy this thought-provoking conversation with a true design legend.

(And thank you all for 500 episodes of the podcast!)

Interview Transcript

Maurice Cherry:
All right. So tell us who you are and what you do.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
Maurice, I am Cheryl D. Miller.

Maurice Cherry:
No introduction needed.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
No. No, I barely have a website, and now it’s come down to just, “Google that, okay? And I’m not the basketball player.” There are three of us, and I think there’s a psychologist and a basketball player. “Just put in Cheryl D. Miller, and that’s it.” That’s it in a nutshell. “Just Google, Cheryl D. Miller.”

Maurice Cherry:
How is 2023 going so far?

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
2023 is going really, really well. And I say that I’ve been granted much favor and grace through the pandemic, and it’s continuing. And 2023 has just expanded with new platforms, new vision, new sharing, that really all has been birthed from our pandemic season. It’s going really well. My projects… I’ve been a professor at several universities, I’m now with three. And that’s a unique experience, because everyone that’s working with me is developing this hybrid pedagogy. And I say the only thing that’s left for me to explore with this is that I’ll hologram into my classrooms next. So somebody has that figured out next. I’ll be lecturing via hologram in the Metaverse. I don’t… I would say soon.

Maurice Cherry:
So you’re at Howard, you’re at UT Austin, ad ArtCenter, right? ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena?

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
Yes. All three.

Maurice Cherry:

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
Yeah. And I’m crossing my fingers. I’ve been talking with University of Connecticut UConn, because it’s in my geography. I’ve wanted to do something locally. I might be with them in the fall as well. Since pandemic, I have carried four universities at a time.

Maurice Cherry:
Light work for Cheryl Miller.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:

Maurice Cherry:
I mean, outside of that, do you have any big goals or projects that you are working on now?

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
Well, yeah. I’ve dedicated myself to writing the rest of way out. I have a lot of things to write, Maurice. And I don’t want to talk too much about the writing, but I’m writing crazy. And one of the things that I do pride myself on, I do pride myself on a few things, that is, I don’t compile footnotes. My work, I make footnotes. So my revelation, my development of scholarship, I am creating conversation that I’m hoping they will be, my footnotes and the things I write, finding proof for my revelations, I’m leaving a trail of breadcrumbs. I will never write as many books as footnotes that I will leave to my scholarship.

That’s one of the things that I really, really believe in that our community, which I represent the BIPOC, indigenous community with being African-American, but a woman of many, many colors. And we must write, we must publish, but we can’t do that if we don’t have content. So my work is, I want to make sure that I leave as many footnotes and content as possible. And that doesn’t always mean that it’s in the form of a book. So I’m putting up my YouTubes, my lectures, recordings, all these things that if you study the things that I’m leaving behind, those that are really writing and researching have footnotes that they can create and compile for their books and so forth. We can’t write if we don’t have content.

And one of the things that I always contend is that I think Bond House is a hundred and a few years old. I’ve lived two thirds of that history. So my lived experience must be documented, which is much different than compiling footnotes out of the library. But you can’t do that if you don’t have content. I’m leaving content. Valuable, I know what’s in the card catalogs, I know what I’ve experienced, I know what I’ve lived through. I don’t compile footnotes in my work. I create them. So my lived experience, my lived history, I’ve been an eyewitness to a lot of things, I’ve known a lot of people. So writing that out in different forms, which is really my scholarship and revelation, I’m creating footnotes. And then I’m documenting those notes in places where if you’re going to really going to do the work, you’ll find Cheryl Miller. You’ll find Cheryl Miller found this out. You’re going to find Cheryl Miller’s research.

So I’ll be lucky if I get maybe three books out. But making sure the ingredients for you all to write, that’s been a big part of my work, which is… I’m in a sacred project of collecting Black graphic design history that’s in collections with Stanford University and Cooper Union Herb Lubalin Center. It’s sacred work, because I find deceased Black designers and estates. I’m working with families that know that their loved one had some crazy kind of career, and it’s all in a box in the attic or in the basement, and they don’t know what to do with that ephemeral. And usually, I show up giving them a place to have their work preserved and cataloged. So with that, that’s really important, because we can’t write a history if it’s all oral tradition and lost and dry rotting in somebody’s attic or basement.

And I’m meeting so many families. I have a daughter, I won’t call her name. I have one I’m meeting this afternoon. I’ve worked with Sheldon Dixon’s daughter, I’ve worked with Dorothy Hayes’s niece. They all tell me these incredible stories and trust these sacred boxes that I will take care of them. And thus far, Stanford has received the concept of this without charge. That’s what they do. They bring in collections, they preserve art. I think they have MLK papers. This is what they do. And some people say, “Well, why didn’t you take it to HBCU,” and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Stanford will preserve the work freely for us.

So I’ve given everyone an invitation. Some people have wondered my motive. My motive is, “Okay. Well, you keep that stuff in your attic if you want. Or you have an opportunity for somebody to come by, pick it up, and you have a name and a catalog annotation. You have your own numbers. You don’t come underneath Cheryl Miller. This is not the umbrella. You have your own note. You have your own archive. You have your own collection. And it’s being preserved.” So we started with, I don’t know, somewhere between 40 and 60 invitations. And it is sincere, and it’s real. And I think the ones that are really moving me are the ones of estates where the designer is dead.

And I can’t tell you. Like my conversation with Dorothy Hayes’s niece, she says, “Thank God for you. I inherited everything. My aunt left me everything. And I haven’t had a clue what to do with it.” It’s sacred, because I listened to estate members, those who have inherited. I hear the stories of, “my dad,” “my aunt,” “Thank God it’s not going to be lost. I don’t have to toss it out. I have no idea what I was going to do with this.”

So it’s really an honor to work with the families who tell me their oral traditions and give me their boxes of goodies. And there’s all kinds of things. There are all kinds of things that we have a culture of. See, I’ve been at this since I was 17. And we have this culture of saving things in case something big happens. Okay?

Maurice Cherry:

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
In case somebody gets discovered, or it’s hidden or lost. Who knew footnote on the back of a match cover, right? And these boxes are full of these things for a rainy day. Oh my God, you talking about the Black designers, they’re full of, “Oh my God, I got to save this for a rainy day in case… Just in case.”

Maurice Cherry:

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
I’ve had the privilege of talking to families, working with Stanford to pick up the collections, sampling the collections. They come in, they come into a holding area, they have special buildings, and it’s a process to bring these boxes in from everybody’s attic. And I’ve been telling you all, the ones that I’ve invited down to land of the living, “Open your file, open your collection.” Maurice, open your collection. You have an invitation. Open it.

Maurice Cherry:

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
So that means fill out the papers, go through it, and start it. Meaning you’ve got transcripts, you’ve got all kinds of notes from when you started this, and you remain an archivist to your collection. You don’t have to put anything new in it. You own all your rights and all of that. So it’s an honor. I’m telling all of my younger scholars, “If I’ve invited you, fill out the papers and start. You don’t have to put your current work in, because you’re working with it. Put your stuff in from college. Put your thoughts in. What did you write? Where are your diaries? That kind of thing. It’s not for me, and it’s not for you. It’s for the next generation that’ll come and needs to write about Revision Path.” Well, if Revision Path doesn’t have a record of that and hasn’t left footnotes, or you don’t pay the website bill, it’s all gone.

Maurice Cherry:

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
It’s gone. So preserving our stories so that we have content for the next future generations to do the scholarship that’s required, that’s really important before I die. And if you get a book or two out of me, well, good. Good. You’ll get a book or two out of me. All right? They’re forthcoming. But collecting content so that we move this out of oral traditions and storytelling into scholarship and into history books, you can’t do it if you don’t have the ingredients, Maurice. So that’s a big portion of my work. And writing the most intriguing research I discover, and don’t ask me, just wait, but I have found some intriguing research that answers my primary questions for us all. So I’m writing that and working out where that will be published and how that will be published. I’m not anxious for publishing. I’m anxious to make sure that we have what’s necessary to publish.

Maurice Cherry:

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
There’s no agenda to that. And nobody’s making any money on that, so we don’t worry about that. Yeah. Look, yeah, I have friends and foes, and friends and foes worry, “Is Cheryl Miller making anything?” Cheryl Miller… Listen, I’m waiting for the MacArthur, man.

Maurice Cherry:
Oh, I hear you. Yeah.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
I haven’t received a dime, you hear me? Not a dime for over 50 years of work.

Maurice Cherry:
Waiting on that Genius Grant.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
Yeah, I’m waiting on the… I pray on it every day. I do, because… And these things are for the young at heart, all these awards and things. It’s like, “Oh, well, we are going to get this award, because it’s like art collecting.” I’ve learned some stuff about fine art too. “Well, we’ll collect, buy low.” When they’re young, they’ve got performance. We collect and buy cheap now, because we know that they’re going to be producing for 30, 40 years. We are not going to give her that. She’s going to be good for 10 years. This should be going to glory.

No, but I haven’t monetized. There isn’t anything. There isn’t anything. Monetization, if you will, of this advocacy, man, I don’t even have a T-shirt. I don’t have a baseball hat, no merch, no nothing. Okay? It’s been 100% advocacy, because scholarship, I’ve learned, and in your work, statistics, the two together, the two signs of a coin, just marching and picketing, and I’m a civil rights girl. All of that brings awareness. But what has moved the needle in my life is one thesis, one document of footnotes.

Maurice Cherry:

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
Cheryl Miller’s a footnote lady. And I wrote one piece, and here we are. So I believe in designers who write, I believe in scholarship. And there were years that I wondered how and why I went to seminary. I’m a theologian. And I was running the studio in New York, and Union Theological became my client. And I started part-time, and oh, that’s a whole nother story. Me in seminary is a whole nother story. But I got led into theological work. And when I got led… Theological work is not religious work.

So when I got into the process, I learned things that I use now. And I would say that I’ve created a genre of design social justice. Oh, you study with Delores Williams and the works and likes of Cornel West in and out of the alcoves, and James Cohen. You walk through some liberation theology, you walk through some social justice and change, pedagogy. Your tools will sharpen to slay the dragon. And then Union does not pride itself on making ministers. I mean, you can walk out and be a minister if you want with an MDF, but you are trained in dynamic levels of critical thinking, research development of scholarship in the recording of history.

And I got led in to be trained. And I did not need… When I wanted to go to grad school again, I went. Of course it makes sense, so you got a Master’s, go get a PhD. Well, PhD in art, unless you’re doing art history, the Master’s from Pratt was terminal for anything I needed to do, even to teach. And Union wouldn’t let me get a PhD in any form of any branch of what they had theologically, because I didn’t come up that route of a BA, a graduate degree, all of that.

So getting a Master’s of Divinity yet put me into what it is that is dynamic for me now. I see things that people don’t see. I answer questions that people don’t even think to answer. And that comes, and I document create footnotes and scholarship. My work is sound. And that came from being theologically trained. They train you, sharpen your knife to be able to cut prime rib with your eyes closed. And there were days like, “Why in the world am I doing this?” I’m running Cheryl Miller Design downtown, “What am I doing up here with all these intellects?” But I had learned the importance. I had leaned into my academic coach with the thesis.

Leslie King-Hammond, she was a PhD from Johns Hopkins. And I met her when… You know my life story, my dad died, I couldn’t go back to RSID, and I ended up with MICA. She was an adjunct African history, what, if not the first Black professor at MICA 50 some odd years ago. I was grieving, and the Dean put her in my care, put me in her care. “Here, take care of this child. She’s supposed to be in Providence. Her father died, and now she’s in Baltimore. Take care of her.” And she was a newly minted PhD, and now claimed emeritus in her own right, of course.

Dr. Leslie King-Hammond, she was my coach. Everybody asked me, “Cheryl, you got a mentor?” No, I had no design mentor. Nobody took interest. I’ve always had Leslie, I’ve had writing coaches. I’ve had some of the best editors to take care of my work, to take care of my writing. Leslie inspired me to be a scrum. I said, “Oh, this is more than doing a book report.” She guided me. It was rigorous. And she guided me through the infamous Pratt thesis. And we all know what that thesis has done in our lives. I was charged with Cheryl, the chair of the design department of Pratt says, “You can’t do a design project to graduate out of this program.” I don’t know what he told anybody else. All I know is Anton Minasi had a studio in Lincoln Plaza, and we all had senior reviews. “What are you doing for your thesis?” We all had appointments.

I’ll never forget it. I went upstairs. He was in a loft across the street from Lincoln Center. And God rest his soul, he said, “Cheryl, we’ve talked about you. You can’t do a design project for your thesis.” I said, “I’m in design school, I’m in graduate school, and I can’t do a thesis. Come on.” “No.” And he gave me a charge. He said, “We want you to make a contribution to the industry.” Well, I just took a deep breath, and I knew what it meant. I knew exactly what it meant. I left his office. I got down, and this is back in the day, there was no cell phone. I went over to the… And he used to have little calling cards. I went over to the payphone on the corner, and I called Leslie. I said, “Dr. King. Pratt’s not letting me graduate with a design project. I got to write my way through this. Will you be my coach?” Thus, brought Transcending the Problems of the Black Graphic Designer to Success in the Marketplace, starting with Cheryl Miller. How about that? Starting with Cheryl Miller.

So I’ve always been a writer. People don’t know I was recruited to RISD, and I was also invited to Wellesley. So I had a choice go to RISD… When I graduated high school, after Martin Luther King was assassinated, we were in a season of reparation, and all the Ivy League schools and New England schools came down to all of the urban towns. And they came to New York, they came to Philadelphia, they came to DC. They scooped up most likely to succeed SAT scores. We all got… Everybody got invited to go to college, or at least to apply. So I was invited to RISD, and I was invited to Wellesley, English Lit and writing.

And I always say now, “Well, I went to RISD, ended up a writer, I got something to write about.” So I got trained. I got trained in scholarship and design and art and design, and its equalities and inequalities is my topic of conversation. So graduate degree number one gives me me something to write about. And graduate degree number two has given me the skillset to do it.

So we lean into that, and that’s how this has happened. Because I will tell you, what I’m doing now, the only thing that being a designer and having gone to all the design schools and all of that, just Google it. The only thing that has done for me in my work has identified a problem and gives me my content for my purpose, for what I write for. So I lean theological work as being trained as a scholar. It has equipped me in ways that design school could never.

And I just think about those years of, “Oh my God, what am I doing? Why am I here? Why am I here? Why am I in seminary?” And I got Cheryl Miller downtown going, I got AIGA, I got all this stuff that’s now in articles, and so forth and so on. And I’m like, “Why I was there was to prepare me for this moment that keeps me relevant and pertinent. I write the solutions to the injustices that I see, and I create scholarship.” And the only other thing that turns the needle like that is statistics. When you back it up with your type of work, well, 2% of this and 3% of this and 4% of this, and oh, back that up with some footnotes, this, that, and the other, then it’s like you got your deposition for your court case. Short of that, it’s like a whole bunch of people complaining and making noise.

Maurice Cherry:
Well, first of all, you mentioned a couple of things I’d love to touch on. One thing that you said about Stanford and Cooper Union, which I thought was interesting, because I got a similar criticism when some of the Revision Path episodes got inducted into the Smithsonian. People were writing, and they were like, “Well, why didn’t you go to HBCU? You went to Morehouse. Why did Morehouse take it?” I was like, “Well, Morehouse, first of all, I don’t think they even have an archive or something like that with design. And I already had a relationship with one of the curators at the Smithsonian.” It was a four-year sort of thing. That’s interesting though that you would get that sort of criticism about that. I mean, when you first came on Revision Path, I remember, I saw the pictures of you boxing up the stuff, and the folks from Stanford coming over and taking pictures and everything.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:

Maurice Cherry:
That’s a weird criticism to have gotten.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
But it’s not a lot, but it sits in the back of people’s like, “Do I dare ask her?” Well, the thing about it is, preserving art costs money. It costs money, the archival process. So if someone is going to say, “We’re going to care in perpetuity for all the artwork that you bring in and make sure it’s annotated and credited and made available,” listen, you go work with that. I’m grateful. I’m grateful.

Maurice Cherry:
Now, speaking of those five years or so, since you were first on Revision Path, a lot has happened. I mean, you’ve had… I don’t think I’ve ever seen a designer have such an award tour, a victory lap, I don’t know what to call it. But you have had a number of accolades since then. Of course, you mentioned your professorships. You mentioned the collections at Stanford, at Cooper Union. There’s also your AIGA medal, your honorary doctorates, one from VCFA in 2021, one from MICA and RISD, from both of those in 2022. I mean, this has to be a tremendous validation of your work and your career. How does that make you feel?

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
I’m humbled, and I’m honored. And honestly, I’m grateful that I’m alive to see it happen. Like the gospel song, I’m alive to see it happen, Maurice. And to have achieved three design awards of our industry, the Cooper Hewitt, Visionary, the AIGA. And the one that touched me in an interesting spot, and maybe it’s because I’m a New York designer, was being inducted into, it’s the one club, but it’s the old school advertising Madison Avenue Club, being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

I’m like, I have delayed, but not denied. And God’s been faithful that in the midnight hour how much work I’ve done for our community that no one knows. I’m appreciative that I’m alive, Maurice. And I’m still vibrant, so that I can use it. So all of these awards and things, I’m not retiring and I’m not expiring. I’m on the other side of this history, but it’s opening up doors for me to continue to do my work and to correct the wrongs that I see. And it’s opening doors that otherwise would’ve remained shut. So they’re honors hard, hard-earned. Someone posted that on a LinkedIn. I was just being peppered with acknowledgements and well-deserved, long overdue, but somebody said hard-earned on LinkedIn, and I said, “Glory.”

And the first one, I was with [inaudible 00:29:21] Debbie Allen. And if you heard my reflection remarks, receiving AIGA, the night before, she’d earned the revered award, and she was wearing red, and I decided I was going to wear red to stand with her. And these are lifetime hard-earned acknowledgements. And I always tell folks, “Don’t get it twisted. I’m not an overnight success.” Overnight success that took 50 years, Maurice. And I’m not above the law. I don’t want anybody to go through what I’ve been through. So you can’t do this if you haven’t had your own measure. You can’t work like I work if you haven’t had your own measure of challenge, pain, suffering, disappointment at the hand of this industry. And I couldn’t lay my life down like this if it hadn’t touched my door, that’s ridiculous.

I’ve had my measure, I’m not above the law, and it’s been hard earned. And what it does now is, it gives me for those who want me. I’m on invitation only now. Invitation only is, there are a lot of things that are going on now that I’m not invited to the table. Well, I don’t have to be invited to everything, but the ones who invite me really want transformation and not performance. You don’t call me if you really don’t want to change your situation. So that’s a design model, less is more. I don’t have to be everywhere because I don’t trust everywhere to take care of my heart.

And with that said, every place that’s acknowledging, everyone that’s inviting me, they really want me. And for what I’ve been through, all of the horror of disappointment and rejection, why would I want to beat my head against performative projects where you just want my name? I don’t need that, Maurice. And especially on this side of history, I can get more done, I can get more done with people that want me, that really want transformation. I can get more done in one year than most people can get done in 10. You call Cheryl Miller. You want to get it done? Call Cheryl Miller. You want to look like you’re getting it done, she’s not the one. Because I’m really going to do it. So don’t call me unless you really want to hear it, you really want to do it, because I’ve always been truthful to this.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. I would wager your years of experience definitely has given you a sharp eye for discerning that.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
Oh God, yes. I can tell performative requests a mile away. It starts with the ones that don’t ask me. I’m like, “Oh, I see you. I see you. I’m not even on that distribution list. Okay. All right.”

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. I feel like we’re sharing an inside joke with that, but I know exactly what you mean.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
Yeah. So it doesn’t mean I have to be everywhere, it doesn’t, it’s just that where I am are in genuine places that want growth. I shout out University of Texas Austin Design. Listen, I have to shout out to them. They had just three alumni write a letter, just three. And they’ve been transforming. They didn’t have to have board meetings, and this, that, and the other. I came for a residency and they invited me to stay and, “Would you like to create a class?” And I said, “Yep, I would be honored.” You’ll have to ask them what’s it been like inviting Cheryl Miller to the faculty? Same thing. And I honor that, they really mean business. It’s a good school, it’s a great design school, heading up the ranks. And a part of it is, it’s reaching, and embracing, and being sincere to a diverse design community. And they said, Cheryl Miller, you got something you’d like to share?” And I said, “You better believe it.” And I got this crazy class that keeps me crazy busy.

Decolonizing graphic design from a Black perspective. It’s not Black history, Cheryl Miller’s not doing Black history, not like that. This is, I have decolonized the entire canon. And I’m like, “Oh my God.” And the point of the class is that a Black perspective is my perspective. I set the example of how to do it, how to take a one, number one, week one, and the basic canonical history goes all the way down until you get to Christmas, depending on your school. I go through each era and I show you how I decolonize the modernist perspective, but the prompts and the rehearsal back is, well, where do you come from? What’s beyond this modernist canon?

So this one class, I won an award from Howard with it. I’ve taught it at Roger Williams, I teach it at Howard, I teach it at University of Texas. And it’s the platform. I say platform because it’s the lectures that undergird two classes that I’m teaching at ArtCenter. And so ArtCenter, I teach communication design, I’m a co-professor, we teach publication design. But the prompts for the course, I’m a publication designer, so we’re teaching the craft of publication design, but the books that are being produced are not modernist solutions. It’s like, “Okay, so where do you come from? What are you bringing to the conversation of the book you’re designing?” And it’s intriguing. And I’ve been co-teacher, I also teach grad school there. And what I’m finding, I teach the capstone thesis graduate course, I’m a co-professor there, and I did that also at Leslie. People are asking me to teach capstone thesis. Well, who better knows how to write a thesis than Cheryl Miller? So to be a professor of thesis capstone books.

And I come and partner with those professors that are well oiled machines. The crit that we go through, it’s my training, how to do a thesis. I’m like, “I’ve got to renowned thesis, it’s crazy. One thesis, and here we are. Cheryl Miller can do a thesis, and so Cheryl Miller can teach you how to do a thesis.” I’m teaching Senior and graduate capstone thesis research and development. Now at Howard, which is exciting, is that they wanted me to teach that class. And so I think it’s two years, have I been with them two or three years? I’m not sure. Either two or three, whichever one. The first two, I’ve taught that basic class two semesters. And then they asked me, “Can you do a part two?” I’m like, “Apart two of the part one?”

And then I won an award last year, I was so honored. I got adjunct award, Phylicia Rashad, one of her first awards as Dean, for this course. I’m like, “Here goes my work again.” So the course is unique and it’s transformative, and so they asked me what I do part two. And so part two at Howard is I do believe it’s one of a kind, I never say I’m the only, I will always say one of the first. But I’m teaching the history of Black graphic design at Howard University, part two of the design one that I teach in the Fall. So part one is decolonizing graphic design from a Black perspective, which is how to rework the canon base, how do we get new stories? That’s part one. And part two is strictly the history of Black graphic design. And I follow the canonical errors, but I don’t talk about any White designers at all.

And without a textbook, how about that? Because we’re still waiting for textbooks. And it’s the first university college, three credit class, strictly the history of Black graphic design. And so I’ve created my syllabus, I’ve got my lectures, I’ve got my content. The first class is extremely popular, and we are working with University of Texas to make it e-learning. So we prototyped it with a few professors last Summer, and I’m hoping that it will help as continued education for my colleagues. It’s inspiration of how I expand the traditional modernist canonical syllabus. And it’s a popular class, and it’s the basis for everything I’m doing. The only way that you can get the class is, either you take it from me, or we wait on University of Texas to make it. I’ve got to keep it in an academic environment, so I’m not doing it streaming and all that kind of thing. It’s going to be fully accredited and you can get a badge and all that.

So we’re working on getting it so that people can take it. But if we’ve been fortunate enough to have one another in a class, then you’ve taken it with me. And I’m taking as many university engagements that will work with me this way, and I’m very busy during the day. Mondays are my hardest days. And inviting me to do this means that you are also working out what’s happening in design pedagogy, and curriculum, and education. So I have to shout out to Howard, UT, and ArtCenter. They are Zooming me in, and they’re working with it. So working with Canvas, and Blackboard, and Zooming me into the classroom, and these hybrid tech situations is opening up a world of knowledge-based wisdom.

Not only Cheryl Miller, but the pandemic has put us into this place, and I have grown in this space. And so are institutions that are willing to work that out. We’re not only but content experts from around the world, and it’s exciting. And I would say that schools should not frustrate themselves. And when we talk about looking at how we’re coming out of pandemic, listen, I tell my students, the ones that I teach at my other class at UT, is branding for diversity, I tell them all the time and the graduates preparing their portfolios and things, I said, Put some Zoom screenshots on.” These are aggressive design classes, Maurice. “And when you’re presenting, this means that you can design globally, you can be a design leader globally. You can manage how to be virtual, how to be remote, how to be global.” I said, it’s a skillset now.” We’re just not landlocked to walking around New York with black portfolios from corner to corner.

So Cheryl Miller has taken advantage of the pandemic and those that have heard the crying to diversify. And so these schools have wanted me and I want them, and they have blessed me and taken care of me in these years of mine now. And I have space for a couple more universities, but they have to be patient with me. Like I said, I’ve got my fingers crossed. I know that I’ve reached out. We have a campus here where I live, University of Connecticut, and so we’re looking at that. But I will work with this with whoever will work with me, and the two places that you want me. I don’t have to teach typography and this, that, and the other. I don’t have to do all that. You want me for one I do.

So the decolonizing of graphic design from a Black perspective, you want me to teach that. It’s a writing class, the prompts are writing. But I’ll tell you one thing that has stirred my heart is, when I teach this class of Howard, the way my scholars write the papers to the same prompts. Maurice, they help me get up every day because they are appalled that our history is not included in the main canonical story of North American graphic design. Their papers are unapologetic, and they keep me going like, “Oh my God my dear, I won’t labor through this one more year just to make sure you have a history.” So my hardest day, you asked me what’s a day like for Cheryl Miller?

Let’s take the first day, Monday is my hardest. I teach 12 hours straight. I get up, I’m online with Howard at 9:00 for three hours, I take a break. Then I move across the time zone, across the country, so I’m Eastern Standard Time. I start at 9:00, I’m with them for three hours. We lecture, we dialogue, we work out. We really work out on the content. Then my Texas class starts their time, 2:00, 3:00, and I’m there until 6:00, three hours with them. So 2:00 to 5:00 Central Time, 3:00 to 6:00 my time. I take a little break, then I head to California. There 2:00 is my 5:00, I have some transition time. Sometimes I’m early or late, depending on which way my Texas class goes. And I’m online, that’s a five hour class. My class starts all over again. My day starts all over day, all over again. It’s a five hour class that they go to at 2:00 and it’s over at 7:00.

And so I really have to shout out to the team there, the tech team. I Zoom in, review the work. We’re teaching publication design with a different spin. We’re working that Zoom in design, I’m telling you, it’s really an aggressive ArtCenter class for five hours. I start again. They come in fresh at 2:00, from 2:00 to 7:00, and I clock in 5:00 or 6:00, and I work until 10:00. I put in another five hours. So my family helps me, and everybody makes sure that I get water. I get water Maurice, I get water. I get a glass of water, I get a bio break, I get dinner, and I just keep moving. I keep moving. So my Mondays are my hardest things. The rest of my schedule, I write. I allow interviews, I do interviews. My door is still open. I’m here today with any popularity or notoriety because I never say no to the young designers.

So if you catch me, I do portfolio reviews. People want to stop by my LinkedIn Messenger, or my Instagram Messenger all the time. Ms. Miller, thank you for everything, can I talk to you? I talk to everybody, Maurice. I still do, I can’t not. I’m totally accessible all the time, which I think is the secret ingredient. I would say if there’s any secret potion to Cheryl Miller, I’ve been accessible. I don’t care who you are, you want to talk to me, I’ll talk to you. Because nobody ever wanted talk to me, Maurice, and that’s it. Nobody ever wanted to talk to me, not really. And so I’m like, “Well, if you want to talk to me, I’ll talk to you.” And so young scholars, young designers, I have a motto, if you see me on Instagram, or you see me on LinkedIn, and the green light is on, that means I have time to talk to you. I said “Don’t even make an appointment.

I said, “The way pandemic and strange diseases and everything gets us, I might not be here. If you see my green light, you better catch me right now.” I’m a right now, lady. Let’s do it, do it now. And so every day somebody text me, “Ms. Miller, can you talk?” I’m like, “Yep, I surely can.” So I still do portfolio, I still do portfolio reviews, interviews. Everybody wants a little quote or something for their thesis. I’m still at it, and I don’t burn out within this, I’m built for this. So this is my training, so I know when to stop, I know when to rest. I do not work on the weekends, I do not work on Sundays. So to run a marathon, you have to know where to take your Gatorade breaks. And I’ve never been in a situation where I have burned out or lost my way emotionally, spiritually, break down, nothing. I’ve learned early my capacity, my boundaries. I rest a lot.

On Tuesdays I don’t do anything. After a Monday like that, I don’t do it. I go to the gym, leave me alone. I got a couch corner. And then I’m back up. I can get more done in two days than most people get done in two weeks. The key is rest and pacing yourself. The key is rest. Don’t go past being tired, stop. And so I learned that. Running a business in New York, client’s crazy. But I guess I learned to run the race there in New York. I learned how to take care of myself, and glory to God, I’ve got divine health, except for a left cranky knee. I’m on no medicine, nothing. Antacid it every now and again. But no pills, nothing. And so I’ve learned the art of self-care in running destiny’s journey. And my family plays a big part of that. My family plays a big part of that. I have a blessed marriage. Phil is enjoying all of this with me. We started when we were teenagers.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah, I see the pictures on Instagram. You all are living it up.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
Yeah. He’s like, “Cheryl, when’s the next gala award? I’ll take you. Cheryl, I’ll take you.” And I’m like, “Okay.” So the invitation comes with Phillip. And he comes with Philip. And what’s interesting, I’ve got some interesting photos that I will release. When I went to RISD Freshman year, there was a young lady, Freshman, I don’t know what happened with her because I left out after Freshman year. But she came up there to study photography, and he came up to visit me one weekend. And we had these, Civil Rights kids, I had this bush. And she took these love affair photos of Phil and myself, and we both had these well cropped precision bushes. It’s like, “Cheryl, how’d you do that?” I’m like, “Listen, I vinegared up my hair. Listen, I did what I had to do to be in the notice.” I’m like, “I’m not going to be left.”

So I worked that out. And so when we got invited to come to RISD, I said, “You know what? I’m going to entertain my community.” I said, “Let me show me post some militant Angela Davis freshman shots of Cheryl going to RISD Freshman year. And so he’s been with me the whole way, and it is a pleasure. We just did a cameo last week. A week before I woke up and I said, “RISD was inviting folks to come up to their Senior show.” And we live two hours from Providence, that’s nothing. So I said, “Phil, I want to go up to the Senior show, a cameo. Can you drive me up to Providence?” He said, “Really?” I said, “Well, what else are we going to do? We were just going to sit here and watch CNN and these crazy people on television.” So he says, “Sure.”

So we jumped in the truck, and he took me to Providence, and saw the show, which is, oh my God, RISD design. Oh my God, just go to Instagram and look it up. Oh my God. Eye candy. If I say something is design candy, trust me, eye candy, design candy. Oh my God. Oh my God. And so it just warmed my heart. We were up there with Gary Manchin, is where the gallery is, and there’s a patio, when you walk out it overlooks Providence. And I sat there and took a familiar picture with him. I’m like, “You remember when we were kids we took this picture from this venue, not knowing where life would leave us?” So he’s been with me. And the kids, it was a good decision for me to leave New York City with the practice and concentrate on them. I have good kids. Oh my God, they’re such a blessing.

And it’s so funny, as they were coming along when if they misbehaved or anything, I would always say, “I want you to know I was a famous designer, and now I’m on this pickup line with you people.” I said, “I’m a famous designer, and now I’m in kindergarten.” So I chuckled with them over the course of raising them. And so now with all the awards, we have a group text and I said, “I told you I was a famous designer, but more than anything in the whole wide world, I wanted to be with you all.” So I’m a soccer mom, I’m a basketball mom, I’m a baseball mom, and never looked back about the design business. But I always wrote, the phone rang constantly. You called me, oh my God, can I have a copy of the thesis? Can I have a copy of the thesis? Can I have a copy of the thesis?

Oh my God, my phone has never stopped ringing because of the thesis. Now I’m with the awards, they come with me, they went to RISD with me. Got a chance, I’m so proud, they treated us so well. I’m so proud of President Crystal Williams, the 18th President of Rhode Island School of Design, first African American president of a top ranked art school. They just treated us so well, and the kids were so proud. And they go like, “Yeah mom, we know, you are a famous designer.” So what I have wanted to missed all of that for the sake of these crazy people in the industry slaying dragons? No. I have my teenage prom date is my husband, and we have two kids that have grown up to do their thing, and well, and they know that I was telling the truth. “Your mother was a famous designer and now she’s in kindergarten with you.”

It’s a blessing to be here. So it’s a blessing to be alive because a lot of these peers of mine, dead and gone, they’re getting these awards posthumously. That’s no fun. Thank you for the acknowledgement, but they’re dead and gone. I gave Nicole, she doesn’t have to do it anymore, but I gave her, that’s my daughter. I said, “Nicole, if anybody from New York calls you and wants to give your mother an award and I’m dead, don’t go get it unless it’s monetized. Say you had a chance to do it when she was alive and you didn’t. I’m not coming to New York unless there’s money assigned to it for her estate.” So we joke about it, but I’m proud of them, they’re proud of me, and I balanced it. But I work hard. When I work, I work hard. And when I play, I play hard. So there you go. You got another question?

Maurice Cherry:
You’re everywhere, you’re super active on social media, I see you even have a collection of NFTs. I want to ask you about two things. One, where do you see the future of design with all these new technological advances? And then secondly, what impact do you think social media is going to have on design?

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
Okay. Well, first and foremost, a lot of what I see tomorrow that is happening today comes from the experience of something very simple. I started in this business at the age of 17, 18 years old, and they invented the Magic Marker. Listen to me carefully, I say this all the time. I entered into this business when they discovered the Magic Marker. They were eight in a box, and the name of it was Magic Marker. Up until then, which was transitional, I was trained doing layouts with guash, a wooden teeth square, and charcoal, and speed balling. If I resisted Magic Markers and said, “Oh my God, I got to have my guash.” I wouldn’t be here today. I entered the television industry, when everybody interviews me about BET and all of that, and I always put these markers so people can locate time in history.

Gayle King, I worked in a television station, WTOP-TV, post Newsweek channel nine, was my first design job when I graduated from MICA and moved back to Washington. And Phil and I had just gotten married. Gayle King was a news trainee, news program upstairs in the news department, and Oprah was in Baltimore. And everything was done in film. And in the art department we did old school art cards in color, and the art department, we’d have to make the news graphics, the promo titling, the whole thing. And we had stands where the cameras would roll up onto the art. The station had its first animation camera was filmed.

And then they brought in videotape, this new, oh my god, videotape. And so what happened in that transition period in Washington, they started putting production companies around the area of the television stations, right over the key bridge. They had some colored video production houses because everything was film. So to make the 5:00 or 6:00 news, all the film had to be developed, and edited, and cut, and whatever’s going to happen. The whole place was filmed Maurice, in the New technology. So when I met Bob Johnson, he was trying to figure out BET, which you hear me in that prototype story. I love it. But he asked me would I work at the BET star and prototype TV cards? And after we’ve had this one conversation about his idea, it’s a crazy story. And I’m like, “All right.”

This is before he incorporated, he was working out the idea. And I met him in the prototype stage. So he was at the station and trying to sell this concept. And he says, “Any black designers around here?” And they send them down to me. All I can say in that conversation, I don’t want to go over that conversation because it’s all over the internet. He said, “Will you art direct my prototype show? Take the BET logo card and what we call lower thirds and all of that, because we’re going to do it in video, we’re not going to do it in film.” And so my conversation here is that, well, if I stayed there figuring out how to do lower thirds and graphics with film and didn’t learn kyron, and digital, and video, I wouldn’t be here today. Video, and that production, and those production houses that were lined up in Virginia, and if the TV stations were holding on the film, where would we be today?

And so I’ve always been in this transitional, one foot in and one foot out. Well, let me tell you, by the time I got to New York, just look at your history of the McIntosh. New York City, the Macintosh wiped out God knows how many businesses. I don’t do small businesses, genre of business. So the first thing that really impacted the business at large, the design industry in New York City, was they began to bundle Page Maker on HP computers. And people started, “Well, I can do my own brochure.” And I’m saying, “Oh Jesus, look at this. What’s happening?”

Then I had Danita and [inaudible 00:59:27], you’ll see them on these award tapes. Danita Albert, one of my art directors. I said, “Listen, I got to keep up with this. Whatever this is, we got to do it.” And I said, “I bring the machines in. In other words, I sign my name to the leases, buy all the programs and stuff. I don’t have time to go figure this stuff out, go figure it out. And we got to pull up these drafting tables.” And the speedball turned into the rapidograph, into the uniball. Man, I have been through some technology.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
Man, I have been through some technology. But when this Macintosh QuarkXPress one and Adobe and Photoshop, when they bundled this stuff, well they didn’t bundle, you had to buy it. The stuff was expensive and I had to buy… I had my own staff camera because I had a firm, it wasn’t freelance. I had a firm and that’s why I have logo sheets and stuff. If you didn’t have a camera, you couldn’t do this stuff.

So that’s why I have crafted logo sheets that are flying all over because I don’t know about anybody else but Cheryl Miller had, unless you were on a job and you were freelancing and hustling stats after you worked, you know, needed a camera. There was no Adobe Illustrator skewing and all of that. This is Herb Lubalin, Tom Carnase, Tony DiSpigna crafting by hand.

So there were whole businesses for this. And type setting, my office was full of type catalogs. So you had type houses that only did headline type. You had type houses that did body type, you had retouch, retouching, retouchers. You had stack houses for negatives. Okay? So everything the computer did was a business inclusive of the deliveries.

So you had to move camera-ready art from uptown, midtown where the studios were, to the printers downtown. So the delivery services, this thing wiped out New York City. QuarkXPress, Macintosh, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. And those who were too cheap to figure it out – how to pay for all of that – took PageMaker on a HP and it went into DIY, do-it-yourself.

All those business folded and I just don’t mean they sea change. You know what sea change is? A sea change is different than a paradigm shift. A sea change is it’s gone. It’s gone. Never. To. Return.

And I saw this and I said, “Oh.” And the delivery service, AOL and the internet was flying, printing files, no more bikes running. The only thing moving now on bikes in New York City is Uber Eats.

I saw these businesses go if you could not keep up. And the resistance. Okay, well you can resist if you want. And listen, I used to visit Tony Dispena’s office downtown, and I was a regular go-by-and-visit.

And you can see, Douglas Davis has a retirement celebration documentary on Tony. You can find it on YouTube. And he shows you old school Tom Carnase, Herb Lubalin, and all of that crafting.

He had a well-tuned studio and you had to have equipment for that stuff. I still have that equipment, man. We had to have ellipses and drafting tools and… Oh Jesus, all that stuff by hand. I still have it all packed away. Okay, I’m looking for a museum’s installation. Cheryl Miller Design Studio still exists. Can you believe it?

I saw Tony’s shop pivot. He did not linger in holding onto speed balls. Speed ball pins and ink, and drafting to… See there was a process of how you did this stuff. You drew it out, you had your tissues and you had to have that camera. This thing hit New York City so fast. I went in there one day and he had a number Macintosh.

So what I’m sharing with you is University of Texas, I saw is starting a master’s program of AI. Next year it’s going to launch. MIT has a has a six week continue ed. Resist it if you want. Resist it and see where you’ll be. You’ll be right there with Uber Eats. You’ll be right there with Uber Eats. All right?

And I’ve been through too much technology to know, don’t resist. Learn it. And while you’re learning it, they will figure out the copyright stuff, they will figure out the legality, they will figure out… But it’s going to do you no good if this technology doesn’t have some content experts.

And so I’m like, learn it and figure out your code of ethics for using it and compete. Don’t resist. Or you’ll be on your bike riding around with Uber Eats, still looking for pay stub deliveries to printers downtown.

Yeah, this is it. I’m curious about NFTs. I have several collections on Foundation. Phillip is doing that part of my practice. I think there’s something there. You know, got to watch out for moving west for gold, because the only ones that make gold are the ones who make the shovels. The only ones who find gold out west are those who sell the shovels. Is there a there, there? But I won’t know if there’s a there, there, if I don’t jump in the game.

So we’ve got a Foundation collection, I’ve got a collection up now for women’s… He put up one for, there’s some women’s images. Yeah, I get it. Phil’s trained in blockchain for his business.

So we just keep it moving. We just keep it moving. I’m far from – well, I can’t say I’m just getting started – but I’m into Cheryl Miller 2.0. Or 3.0, 4.0, whatever it is. I’m curious. I have some entree, but I haven’t had time to work it out yet. But I’m curious about teaching in the metaverse and I do not jest when I think before it’s all said and done I can hologram into some space to teach.

The only proof of anything that I’ve said here that it’s important. You’ll always hear me say, “Design doesn’t change. Technology does.” There’s not a thing about design that changes. Technology changes. And I’m a designer. I’m a good designer. So if I want to be left behind, I’ll go back with my magic markers.

I told you all of that to show you how much technology I have grown through. And I was inspired as a kid. TV was brand new. George Olden moved down to Washington DC to be with CBS when I was born. And so I grew up on art cards. And I’ve always been able to be blessed enough to be able to keep up with the technology. When I say “keep up,” is to afford the computers, to afford the programs, to afford the training.

And so we’re just going to keep it going and inspiring young designers to compete. So the answer to the question is Star Trek. We’re on an odyssey. I can only tell you if you don’t want to get lost, you better get your little continuing head. Or go to YouTube University. I always love going to YouTube University. They’ll teach you anything. They’ll teach anything you want to know.

Maurice Cherry:
That is so true. That’s so true.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
I also like The Verve, Terrence Moline’s group. They throw up their tips and they keep it moving in that group. So you want to learn some technology and what’s going on, they’re really working those programs and talking about mid journey and all these dolly and rainbow this.

But you have to show up to these things. You have to participate. You have to always be inquisitive and be excellent. Like Oprah says, you got to do the work.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. Now, you and I have talked about some young designers that you have been mentoring. You’ve talked about – or I’ve seen pictures at least I know – but you and I have talked about Simon Charway, Taeler Breathwaite.

How has your mentoring been going? I mean, I know you’re everywhere in terms of social media and of course like you said, you want to be on the metaverse. Like in the real world here, how’s your mentoring been going?

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
Oh well, listen, apples don’t fall far from the tree. Everyone that’s in my tribe, they have their gifts. I think in my life I’ve inspired them to touch their gift. And the proof that they are of my tribe, they’re all winning awards too. The family that prays together stays together. So my tribe, they’re award-winning, they’re doing the same thing.

They stop by every now and again and say, “Auntie” – they know, don’t call me “Abuela” or “Nana” or anything – so everybody knows to call me “Auntie.” I just speak into their lives, hope and inspiration and to identify your gift.

And I do have some tips Maurice, and they have been kind enough to regard some of my wisdom. And when applied, they get the same results. So they are competitive designers. I’ve got so many of them. But what you can’t do is write me and say, “Cheryl, will you be my mentor?” That’s not the way that works.

Usually I see a giftedness. And I think one of my favorite, you mentioned Tré [Seals] and Taeler. Tré, I love Tré. I love him dearly. And I love how he always remembers me. And he’s the man of the hour and he will be the man of the hour. On several occasions, his YouTubes and his articles, he will tell you that he ran into my article in 1987.

And most people run into the article 1987. And they find me, they do everything they can do to find me. And if you’ve gone through all that trouble to find a vintage, he said he paid 60 bucks. He found it on eBay. Somebody gave it to him, and then he found his own copy. I know I bought 200 of them, so I know 200 of them are around someplace.

He found it, someone gave it to him, he read it, he found me. I don’t know how he found me, but back when I was raising the kids I had a website. You could write me on the website. And he said, “Ms. Miller, I got an idea.” I said, “Mm-hmm.” I always listen. I said, “Mm-hmm, we all got ideas. Okay.”

He says, “I found your article. I read your article. I have an idea.” I said, “Mm-hmm.” And he says, “I want to make typefaces from the lettering on Civil Rights posters.” I said, “Mm-hmm.”

He says, “What do you think about that? Is that a good idea, Ms. Miller? I paused. And he quotes me pretty well, I remember it like it was yesterday. I said, “Tré, do it now. If you don’t do it, somebody else will.” I didn’t have to tell him twice. And here we are.

See, this is what I tell everybody. You’re not going to be the only one, but could you try to be the first one? Try to be the first one. You’re not going to be the only one. Don’t you still go to McDonald’s and look up and say, “Can I have a Coke, please?” Well, we only have Pepsi, will you take Pepsi?” Don’t you go to FedEx and say, “Can I have a Xerox?” In the Canon machines back then.

First name recognition. I will never be the only one, but I’m going to be the first one, one of the first. I will never say “only.” You will always hear me say, “I’m one of the first.” Because just when I have the audacity to say I’m the first, somebody else comes up and says, “Well, I was there before you Miller.” I’m like, “Oh yeah, you were.”

So you got to stay humble with it. But you got to be the first one, one of the first to the application of your gift, your idea. That’s your brilliance. And so I see people now trying to do that, and they’re coming up with civil rights. And I said, “Man, don’t imitate. Don’t duplicate. Create.”

Taeler. Listen, that little baby can design. You hear me? She’s my youngest. I met her in Texas. Now, I don’t know the statistics, I don’t keep up with it, but she must be one of the first young black designers to have gotten as many grad school acceptances, top rank schools. And you’ll have to interview her to ask her where she got accepted.

But I’m not saying she’s the only one. I don’t know if she is the only one. She’s the only one I know out of University of Texas of Austin Design that got grad school acceptances, top rank schools and money. She’s selected prac. She’s got some intriguing work that she’s going to be doing and finishing out.

So you have to go interview her. And what was it like? I was one of her senior design teachers in Texas. And so, she was competitive. And boy, she was racking in those admissions and scholarships. I’m like, oh my God.

Simon. Oh listen, I love Simon Charway. I met Simon Charwey online. And one of the things that is so important to this work that I’m doing is that, and even there’s a segment in Dori Tunstall’s new book, Decolonizing Design. She’s got a piece in there that talks about the importance of the place to start is to understand your indigenous origins. It’s a requirement.

And I have researched, I had a family issue. I’m African American, but I’m also Filipino American and I’m West Indian. And I’m from DC. My backgrounds, my Zoom backgrounds, my story, everything. I’m what they call MGM: multi-generational mixed.

And I was raised African American. But culturally, I am Danish West Indian and I’m African American from D.C. I can hand dance. But I got four different grandparents, four different places.

I’m Filipino from Cavite. So I’ve got a Filipino family, I have a West Indian family, I have an African American family, and I have a Native American family. So my grandfather was white, an American Indian from Fauquier County.

So in this story I have one African-American grandmother, my father’s mother was African-American. And all of these people resolved at Howard and ended up in D.C. And I learned to hand dance. And that’s my story.

But in that richness is I’m Danish West Indies. My grandmother is indigenous Danish West Indian and Ghanaian. And my research led me to finding… Long story, but you can buy my book. Black Coral is my memoir. That work needed to be done in my life before I could even begin to do the scholarship on design.

And I have Ghanaian, DNA that I needed to process. I had a missing Filipino family that I needed to deal with. My mother came up looking a hundred percent Filipino on Howard’s campus. There was so much that needed to be dealt with in my origin, my heritage, my being born into this drama, that Black Coral – you can get it on Amazon – was a lifetime work that I ended up publishing in 2013. And with that, I found my tribe and origins of my Ghanaian DNA.

And with that comes the authenticity of my African aesthetic. You have to know the slave trade. So I know the Ghanaian slave trade is my history. The colonizers, the French and Martinique, the Dutch, the Portuguese. I know my colonizers are the Danes. And I know my history is with the Ghanaian Kings.

I traveled all through the West Indies for years. Census records, census projects, studied Danish census records, putting together and answering the question, “How in the world do I have Ghanaian DNA?” It’s from the slave trade.

And so with that, I found my tribe and where they are in Accra. I have a cousin, my great-grandmother’s nephew, who went back and became what they call “enstooled.” And he sojourned back to Ghana, and he’s a chief of the Virgin Islands. They enstooled him and met the lineage of all the tribal leaders.

So I have all of these records and pictures of the tribe, which is really genuine. I mean, it’s research. I’m hoping to go to Ghana. It’d be my second trip to Africa. But I’m hoping to go on a research trip to look at the decorative painting houses and things. I’m going looking at the Ghanaian aesthetic.

And I met Simon online. He wanted my advice on his African Design Matters project. We began a conversation on Instagram. And I saw him, and while everybody’s sleeping, I’d wake up and go to their conferences. They’re like 7, 12 hours.

So y’all sleeping. While y’all sleeping I’m with the Ghanaian designers and I’m hearing their agenda. I’m like, “Oh, these Pan-African brothers and sisters, they got a manifesto. And while we sleeping, they’re manifesto-ing.”

So I saw him interface online, working hard to integrate his research into a North American discussion. So he’s trying to meet us. He’s working with AIGA. And I was fascinated with his work because I would get up and listen to them lecture and their conferences. And I said, “Simon, the only way that you are going to break through with your research in North America, you got to get it ratified. And the only way that I know to get what you’re doing ratified is Yale.”

I did. I just said, “Simon, go to Yale.” I said, “I can’t tell you how to get to Yale, but you got Professor Mafundikwa, you know him. He’ll tell you how to get to Yale. Use your network to get where you’re going.”

All I can tell you is that I did what I had to do in that invitation of inspiring. I never say I’m anybody’s mentor. Let him say it. I inspired him to reach, you got to ratify this work. And the only place I kind of think this fits is Yale grad school.

And Mafundikwa can help you. I just live in Connecticut, so I can tell you the highway and the exit to get off. Yale isn’t my school, RISD and MICA, they’re my schools. I said, “I can just tell you the exit off of A 85. But you got enough that… Try.”

And I didn’t even say, “Try.” I said, “Do it.” And all the way up to the last moment he got accepted, we walked him through application, acceptance, the airplane ticket. We walked him through the whole thing. And so when he got here, it was the week after, two weeks maybe he’d been here and it was summertime. He finally got here.

I said, “Phil, would you take me up to Yale? “I want to meet Simon.” And I asked my son and I said, “He doesn’t know what’s going to hit him. We got some coats around here?” He’s in New England, he’s never seen snow. He’s going to wake up and it’s going to be, “Oh my God, where are the ancestors? Where are the outfits?”

So the guys put together a few sweaters because he didn’t know. So he is just going to wake up and it’s going to be frigid. But you wake up and it’s freezing, you know, what you going to do? So I said, “Brothers, give me some sweaters and some coats. And Phil, can you take me to Yale?”

I found him and he was so grateful to meet me. And then he touched my heart. He touched my heart, Maurice. He said, “Will you take a picture with me?” I took pictures out in front of where he was living. He said, “Ms. Miller, can you take a picture with me at the Yale sign, Welcome to Yale?” I said, “Well, do you know where it is? He said, “No. But I got to have a picture with you standing in front of Welcome to Yale.”

Oh my God. And Phillip was so patient. We drove around Yale’s campus looking for this one sign that Simon wanted. It’s one of these entranceway gate things to the campus, and he could not tell us on what corner, what street. And we drove all around Yale, which is a city school. Where’s the sign that says, Welcome to Yale? Well, we finally got it. He was so excited. You can see the picture on Instagram.

And he was so excited to meet me. We stood out and he kept taking pictures. He says, “The elders won’t believe it.” That’s what he kept saying. He says, “The elders won’t believe that I got here unless I take a picture of Welcome to Yale with you. And I’m like, “Okay, Simon.”

It took him three years to get here. It started pandemic. He started reaching out. Everybody’s online. He found me. I started going to their conferences. And I’m like, “Mm, I get it. I get what you’re doing. I see it.”

And Simon is just proclaiming and got his research. And I’m like, “Yeah, you trying to cross over into an international space. I got it. You need to go to Yale, brother.”

So from inspiring him, it took three years. The process of application, getting to work together, through the interviews, through the plane ticket, through the whole thing, through “Professor Miller, can you meet me and stand in front of the sign?” And forever grateful. And he knows I have Ghanaian DNA.

I’m like, “For the elders, Simon, I know I don’t look Ghanaian, but trust me, I know some Ghanaian art. I know Ghana. I know I got Ghana family. I got a chief. I know my chiefs. I know my story. We are craftsmen artisans. My tribe is, if you’ve seen the decorative coffin makers, the Sowa tribe, Accra Ghana, is my tribe. And so I come natural. We’re designers, we are wood cutters, ship makers, and we build the decorative coffins of Ghana.

And so when I start talking to you all about some African design, I know what I’m talking about. And that’s what I mean. That’s what mean about, I got stories to tell that nobody else can tell. I got footnotes to make that nobody else can make. I’m not compiling footnotes. I’m creating these footnotes and I’m leaving them in places for somebody to write something, whatever you’re writing.

And Cheryl Miller said, “Well, if I said it, it’s a footnote, and it’s a research and it’s a proof.” And my DNA says, I’m Ghanaian. And Simon and I connected. The ancestors connected us. Okay, so that’s the way the drum beats.

Maurice Cherry:
At this stage of your career, how do you measure success? I mean, what does it look like for you now with all of the accolades and the awards and the prestige? What’s success like now?

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
Just remember me and acknowledge my friends. And when the ones that I’ve poured into make success on their own, that they remember. I do not talk about this famous thesis without acknowledging Dr. Leslie King Hammond. I refuse to talk about all these awards that stem from one thesis without celebrating Dr. Leslie King Hammond who was my academic coach and the scholar in my life that said, “Go get some skills.”

And I always tell y’all, well, when y’all have your big conferences and stuff, just make sure somebody got Ms. Miller. Is she is on the plane? Is she on the train? Somebody got her bag? Just remember me.

I went to AIGA, I met Teressa Moses from University of Minneapolis. We were walking out of the main theater at one of the breaks. And she and her friends were going to dinner and she turned to me and she said, “Professor Miller, you want to come and go to dinner with us?” And I kind of looked like, “Y’all don’t want me coming to dinner with y’all.” And she welcomed me. She said, “Come on, go to dinner with us. We’re skipping the rest of this. We going to go find dinner.”

And that meant more to me in the world that she included me. I can’t have gone through and have the passion for our community if I haven’t been through the pit of hell with this industry. The only reason I did this is so that you all, any measure of it, you don’t have to go through anything I went through. You don’t want to go through what I went through.

You don’t want to go through Jim Crow trying to steal my portfolio and not giving anybody a chance. I don’t want to bore you through the civil rights era. So the only reason I’m accessible at all…

Maurice, you don’t want to go through anything that I’ve gone through, not even a measure of it. So if there’s anything I can do to help you not go through it, I’m going to do it because I’m not above the law.

Maurice Cherry:
Is there something that you haven’t done yet that you want to do?

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
I’ve thought about that. And the answer is not really. I’ve thought about, do I want a branding project? Do I want a book? Do I want…? When I really was performing and servicing, I ran hard for my clients. There were projects I really wanted and I just knocked on those doors until I found the project. I worked for my portfolio. And I did the best, the absolute best I could do in the area and the era of performance that anyone could do.

And I say that because I came through pre-civil rights, civil rights, and post-civil rights era. And some of these anthologies and biographies and stuff I read online, I’m not far from Thomas Miller.

Thomas Miller has a clip I use in my lectures. You find them on history.org. I use them in my lecture when I’m talking about corporate designers A1, number 2. Week 2, symbols.

I got a YouTube university in him. He’s 80 some odd years old. He just got a posthumous AIGA medal, and I just met his daughter because he won the award the same year with me. But they got a clip on history.com and he’s 82 years old. And the pain in his eyes, I felt, and I knew. He said before Gold Shark Associates, his voice was frail, but you could see it in his eyes. “I just wanted to open a little place” – he’s talking about Chicago – “And I wanted to open a little place and do little brochures and logos, but no one would patronize me.” And I saw it in his eyes.

And he was awarded the medal for endurance or persistence or something like that. And when they were reading his bio and his daughter was there to accept posthumously, my mind flashed back to that history.org clip. And I saw the pain in his eyes and I said, “Mr. Miller, I get it.”

I’ll tell you on this other side of this story, I have so many answers to stuff I was going through when I was younger. I’m like, “Where’d that come from? Why am I doing this? Why is this so difficult?” This, that, and the other.

Here’s an example. I won’t call his name. Out of respect, because I don’t know whether he’s alive or not with us. But a gentleman on Dorothy Hayes’ list. See, I’m young enough and old enough to be in New York at the same time and many of those on the list, I knew personally. One in particular, I won’t call his name, had a studio downtown. And he called me one.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
… I had a studio downtown, and he called me one day. I knew him personally, and he said, “Cheryl, I want to give you my studio.” I’m like, “What?” He says, “Yeah.” He says, “I want to give you my studio.” I said, “Well, where you going?” He says, “I’m leaving New York.” He didn’t give me an explanation. I didn’t understand it. He said, “Have Philip run in a truck and come down and take it all out of here.” I said, “Are you sure?” And he said, “I want you to have this. In other words, maybe you can do something with this because I’m pulling out of New York,” and I’m like, “Wow. Okay.”

So, Philip rented the truck, we went down and I pulled out this guy’s studio. Sometimes, depending on where I zoom, I have two plants. They were loft plants. I have one in my living room and one in my office. They’re 40, 45 years old with these plants, I took out of this gentleman’s studio. Every time I see those plants, it reminds me of how difficult it was for us to make it in New York City, and I never understood why in the world he closed his business and pulled out in New York, until I started working with the history and working with systemic racist practices, and working on my research. I said, “Oh my god, none of us were scheduled to live.” One of my favorite questions I answered, why did Milton Glaser get all the black work? That thing was driving me nuts, so Cheryl, you’re going to figure that out. Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, Hugh Masekela, all of these black… How’d he get all the black work? Dorothy Hayes’s people are hanging all around.

For me to realize, Cheryl, you were living in that. You were living in that era, and this is why your friend, who’s on Dorothy’s list, who was in the show, why he called you up. You’re a young kid, okay? Next likely to succeed, he’s just going to give you his stuff and pull out. I didn’t realize that till I saw his name on the list. And then, I dropped into history, and then I dropped into Jim Crow. I dropped into the cannon. I dropped in… I said, “And, now none of them could… How far could they get?” He gave me everything. Library books, equipment, chairs, drafting tables. I picked it all up. Two plants that remind me of the story. One is in my office here, it must be eight feet tall of… Yeah, one of those scheffleras, and then I have a ficus, it’s gorgeous. It’s very comfortable in my living room, about seven, eight feet tall, was in his loft.

See, this is the kind of stuff I live through. You’re not going to find a footnote unless I make it. I don’t have time to compile footnotes. I have time to make footnotes. I just made you a footnote. Okay? I just made your footnote. This whole conversation is a footnote. Anything I’ve, said recorded on this… You know The Chicago Style?

Maurice Cherry:

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
Yeah, the whole conversation’s footnote. So, success for me, is that I lived to see it happen. I lived to see you all prosper. Congratulations on your 10 years. I listened to your anniversary.

Maurice Cherry:
Thank you.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
You’re doing what someone should have done for you, which is the key to this. You interviewed yourself. Somebody should have interviewed you.

Maurice Cherry:
Yes, yes.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
Maurice, tell me something about this. I don’t know. Okay, so this is at, you threw you all an anniversary party. I’m like, “No. Somebody, I won’t call names, should interviewed you.” I don’t do podcasts except, I fill up a studio room. Okay? That’s not what I do. I don’t make them, but I’ll talk. Don’t invite me if you don’t want me to talk. That’s not what I do, but I know who’s doing them.

Maurice Cherry:

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
So, whoever’s listening to this one, y’all should have interviewed him and see, I’m crazy enough now I say that. Y’all should have interviewed… Maurice got to interview himself for 10 year victory. Okay, so guess what? I enjoyed your anniversary interview.

Maurice Cherry:
Thank you. Thank you.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
If I had a all that design show, I would’ve interviewed you. I would’ve known to interview you.

Maurice Cherry:
I appreciate hearing that. Thank you.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
I enjoyed the story, and I enjoyed… Thank you for having me for the 500, thank you for 248. I know my number. I’m 248 and I’m in the Smithsonian. I am proud of you. Okay? Apples don’t fall far from the tree, and listen, I just shouted out, somebody with all that podcast show, needs to interview you.

Maurice Cherry:

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:

Maurice Cherry:
Now, you’ve been quoted as saying, “My motto is to live your life is your story, to live your life for others is your legacy. Leave a legacy.” I feel like so much of this conversation has been about your legacy. What do you want the next chapter of that to be? What do you want it to look like?

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
I just have… My writing needs to be done. Please don’t ask me about it. Okay? Don’t ask me, I’m not going to tell you. I need my writing to complete, and I have investigated places I should be, I mean, I could be. There’s no should, there ain’t no should in life. Places I could be. I want to just give my gift in the right place, for the rest of my time, and Maurice, I don’t know where that is, but I can feel it. I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing right now. I’m supposed to be leaving the footnotes, collecting the archival work from dead designer estates. I was so touched. I met Reynold Ruffin’s son. He went out to Stanford to see his father’s collection. For the heirs, to say thank you is a blessing for me. I think being someplace high and mighty would take me off course.

High and mighty is… What? Don’t you want to be a dean of this or this, that, and then I’ll be doing so much administration, I wouldn’t be there for you. I can’t change what I’ve been doing, I’m just going to keep doing it. I’m there for you, Maurice. I’ve always been there for you. I’m leaving footnotes. I’m there for you, and if you all remember me, I’m touched, and all of the accolades helping my visibility so I can do more of that in places that want me. There are still places that do not want me, and when they don’t want me, they don’t want us collectively, they’re still there. But, like I said when we started, “Oh, I see you.”

But, there are plenty that want me in my community, and want to share this center stage of design and experience. That’s it. I want to finish my journey, and I think I’m also in a place, where the expectancy of surprise is, I don’t know where I’ll be led and where I’ll be invited, but my heart has been good about this for 50 years. So, I have an expectancy that God will reward openly, what I have done secretly, for the body of Christ in this, and for the body of designers, wherever they come from. I’m good, Maurice. I’m good. And by the way, I’m waiting on the MacArthur because… I’m waiting on the MacArthur.

Maurice Cherry:
That needs to be on the next chapter, for sure.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
The reason that I want it is, it will just help me finish. That’s it. It’ll help me finish. Because imagine doing all of what I’ve done with no payment. It is a heart’s desire because it will help me finish my work.

Maurice Cherry:
Well, just to wrap things up, and I know, of course, people can Google you and find you in many, many places, but are there any places in particular, that you want to point people to, so they can keep track of what’s going on with Cheryl? Cheryl Miller everywhere.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
Cheryl Miller, everywhere. No, I post every… I don’t like Twitter, so you don’t find me much over there. I’m on Instagram, I’m on LinkedIn, and if you want to support the NFTs, I’m on foundation. I’m painting, I paint in the summer. That was an empty nester, right before pandemic exploration. I left DC to go paint at RISD, and life’s pivot got me sophomore year signing up for graphic design at MICA. So, I always… In the empty nesting era, right before all of this took flight again, I said, “Charles, is anything left of your painting?” I paint in the summer and I paint during the break, and I would like a good gallery. I hate all these rules and regulations, Maurice, when it comes to art and design. You got to have this, you got to have that. I’m like, “Oh man, I can paint.” Really?

I can design with my eyes closed. Really? I would love a gallery to just get in relationship with me and let me just send you paintings, and you do what you do. If you ask me what I want, it’s like can’t this be a touch easier? That’s all. Because I’ll put in the hard work, man. I’ve done the work. This is not been an easy tour duty. I did all this with the design studio and my family, and all this, the advocacy, the legacy part, so I have worked some and I continue to work. So, anything that gives me grace and favor, I’m appreciative.

So, when the schools invite me, “Would you like a teach a class? We’ll figure out the tech.” I’m like, “Thank God. Thank God, University of Texas. Thank God, Howard. Thank God ArtCenter. Thank God, somebody…” “Miss Miller, we’ll make it easy for you. All you got to do is beam in with your lectures and grade and read, and do whatever you have to do. Come visit every now and again.” Just make my path a little easier. So, when I say the MacArthur, “Yeah, just make it a little easier, a gallery.” Oh, I’m not going all over New York, querying for a gallery for my paintings. Philip’s got a catalog. You want to see them? He’ll send you a catalog. You want to do business or what?

I’m not doing that. No. You want to do business? I’ll give you some paintings. I guarantee you, you take my paintings, you’re going to make money. This is what this is about. I know how to make money in art, but I just don’t have the patience for the hurdles, and the exclusion, and what the industry does something so simple. Kids just want to draw and paint and make a living. And so, it can’t be that difficult, so if you ask me anything that will make my life easier with what God gave me to do, from the time I was a kid, would be a blessing in my life, Maurice, and you guys just remember me when you go to the conference, “Does somebody get Miss Miller? Does she have a seat?” Do like Professor Teressa, “You want to go dinner?”

Yeah, I want to go dinner. I want to hear what y’all are doing the road ahead is, think about your retirement people. We can come back and talk about that. Think about it. Make decisions now, because your clients will get old with you, they won’t be there. Hiring managers are your age, they won’t be there, so you’ve got to plan that out, and we can come back and talk about that we need the industry, we need professors. Oh my god, we need professors. If I get a call once, I get a call a hundred times a day. “Cheryl Miller, you got any more Cheryl Millers?” I’m like, I got professors, associate professors that can get… Who can… Associate professors, not adjuncts, associates that can… Ready for tenure. We need them up the ranks terribly. The opportunities are there, but they’re not many of us. They’re not many of us. Silas, Pierre and Tasheka can only teach a couple places, at a time.

I’ve been like, get your paperwork. Let’s get going. We need professors. Integrate that with your practice. Figure out your retirement, live happily ever after. Stand up, show up on these teams. Don’t drift back. Be outstanding and stand out, Maurice. I’ll say that one again. Be outstanding and stand out from the rest. When you can, make your gift the first. You won’t be the only one, but you’ll be most memorable. Don’t imitate. Don’t duplicate. Create. Prosper the God-given gifts in you, and don’t take no for an answer. Sometimes you got to wait. Have some patience. God knows if I can wait 50 years for the wind of change, y’all can wait 50 weeks. You can wait 50 days. I still meet people today. Cheryl Miller, I didn’t know anything about it. I said, “Well, I’m sorry. I’m sorry you didn’t read the article 35, 40 years ago.”

You know why they didn’t read it? Because the books used to come in the mail, and if you didn’t see your picture in the front of the book with an award, you toss it to the side. But, I was right there writing. The article’s in the back of the book, and I shout out and thank everybody, and always thank. Thank you, thank you, thank you to my allies in this season. Both Ellen Lupton and Brian Collins have been a blessing for me, and I just want to make sure that I thank them openly and I thank them for their favor and their grace. I always thank everybody who’s helped me. Michelle Spellman, I acknowledge her in my lectures, she’s first black female art director, Time Inc. I didn’t know what I was doing. No Sports Illustrated. I didn’t know what I was doing. She gave me my first job for Time Inc, and next thing I knew Time Inc. Corporate was my client, and I had Cheryl Miller Design.

I thanked Michelle. I always thank Fo [Wilson]. Yeah, 50 years, Hip Hop graphics. Listen, Fo said Cheryl Miller to McDonald’s, one of the best jobs I had while she was art director of YSB. We helped each other. I was in seminary and Michele Washington remembered me, when they were doing those design before. They weren’t giving us any design medals and stuff, she wrote one of those profiles for me.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah, Design Journeys. I remember that.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
Yeah. So, we helped each other, we did what we could. I gave everybody work. Then, I’ve had some wonderful allies in this season. Professor Sansone, and all of my professors at UT, Doreen Lorenzo, and Kate Canales, and Kelsey Gray, and Sean Adams, and Bruce… I mean, I’m thanking everybody like I’m getting an Emmy here. When I met you with former president, Julie [inaudible 01:46:21], she said, “Come on out of here. Get out of the woods. I’m going to take you to Chicago.” Regina Roberts came all the way, and beautiful allies, brought me all the way, came all the way over here, get my boxes. Philip said, “Cheryl, how many times we got to move these boxes?” I said, “Until I figure out where to go.” I saved everything. The whole Cheryl Miller, I don’t dare put up all my work on the internet, y’all got a sample.

So many people, all of the awards people, all of the Smithsonian, and there’s so many people to thank, and so many people to remember, my allies and everybody who’s asked me for lectures, there’s so many people to thank. And so, I’ve had grace, in spite of, so expect the grace. Expect favor. Live well and life will be well to you. This is the last time we going to have this conversation. I want to shout out to Pratt. We’re keynoting their graduation and they’re honoring me with… I guess they’ll be announcing it soon, by April. I’m sure that by the time this runs, it’ll be announced. Yeah, they’re giving me an honorary degree. I’ll be keynoting at Radio City musical, for their graduation. And so, Maurice, it’s really simple. Whoever will love me, well, I will love well back, and when you love me, you love my community I represent.

Maurice Cherry:
Well, amen to that.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
And, I love you.

Maurice Cherry:
Amen to that.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
I love you and I’m proud of you. Congratulations for your 10 years. You’ve been a blessing for me. I wish you well in all of your endeavors, and all of your segues, victories, transitions, your writing, the podcast, God will smile on you.

Maurice Cherry:
Thank you. Thank you.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
We keep doing this and I’m honored to be number 500. I know for sure this will be, unless we’re doing this again, and I’m a hundred years old and you’re like… I expect a long life, but I don’t expect that you’ll interview me again, but maybe so. We don’t ever know. We don’t know yet. And so, I’m just listening. I think there’s some places where I’m yet to arrive. God doesn’t show it to you all, and He doesn’t give you everything that you want. When your gift, you get sent and you get placed. So, each and every day I pray, “Okay, lead me, guide me what you want me to do next.”

I think there are other schools, I think there are other projects. I think there are other kids and scholars, and I’m proud of everyone’s life that I’ve touched. I’m grateful for all my allies in this season, who’ve helped me, and they’ve helped me greatly. For everyone who’s supported me, over the years, clients and the stories are truthful. I pray a special prayer that God would thank you, because I can’t thank you better than when the God can touch your life and say, “Oh, well, that thank you came from Cheryl Miller. She prays for you.” So, that’s what you want. You want God to thank you for how your kindness and open door to me has blessed me.

Once again, I want to thank you for always supporting me and having interest in everything that I’ve been doing, and I’ve been thanking everybody, and I just want to make sure that I shout out to my universities that have accepted me and brought me into my new work. And, of course, we mentioned University of Texas, Austin Design with Doreen Lorenzo and Kate Canales, and everybody in Austin there, has been great to have me and my new scholarship. It all really started rolling with Nikki Juen at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, and Professor Kristina Sansone at Lesley Art and Design in Boston, and put me on the faculty there. I want to shout out and thank Bartley and Howard University, I was blessed to win an award for my new class there, and that’s been exciting and a real, real big shout out to ArtCenter, and Sean Adams had a vision to have me join out there.

And so, it’s crazy, but this new hybrid scenario is allowing me to reach all of the universities that would have me, and so I’m very, very grateful and thankful for that. Everyone that nominated me for all these great awards, Ashley over at AIGA and everyone at Cooper Hewitt and the One Club. Oh my goodness, everybody has just blessed me, all my friends at the Poster House keep remembering me. A special shout out to, not sure if I mentioned before, Regina Roberts over at Stanford has been helping me with our collections and making sure all those footnotes are in place for the next generation. And, the universities that have honored me with our honorary awards. And keynote speaking. I’m going to shout out to Vermont College of Fine Arts, MICA, RISD and I’m going to be keynote and receiving honorary from Pratt for this graduation 2023.

I think I’ve gotten everybody, there’s so many people to thank over the course of a 50-year career, and especially no one had to remember me, Maurice, and pull me out of the card catalog in this season of Renaissance and resurrection and restoration, or whatever we want to talk about Cheryl D. Miller 2.0 since the pandemic, it’s really been a blessing. Everyone who has had me write, speak, lecture, teach something, it’s all keeping me alive, and we’re moving. Especially you, Maurice, I’m so, so appreciative of everything that you’ve done and from remembering me from the very first, back when you were doing South by Southwest presentation, you came looking for me. I was definitely in the card catalogs of the decimal Dewey system and you brought me forward, so there’ve been a lot of people that have been instrumental. I don’t want to forget anybody, and if I have, please trust me, I remember every good will and wish toward me. I just am appreciative of the path of revision and vision that you have given us. I just want to say thank you.

And so, one more shout out to ArtCenter and Howard and UT, I’m just really grateful for the universities that are having me. Of course, all the clients that put up with me, and my designers that put up with me over the years, it’s been really… What a crazy journey. But, I’m living to see it happen, and in the next generation of those who seek this to embrace this career. So Maurice, thank you. God bless you, God keep you and keep revisioning the past, over and over again for us, and thank you. This is your buddy, Cheryl on [inaudible 01:53:37], and we thank you. So, with that, congratulations. Thank you for having me. Once again, you have my permission to make this one collectible. How about that?

Maurice Cherry:
Thank you for… I mean, I don’t really even know where to start. Just thank you for being you, for being an example, for being a trailblazer, for continuing to write and rewrite the canon, to show that we are here, we’ve done the work, we’ve existed, and we can continue to be here, and we have you as an example to show for that. So, thank you. Thank you again for coming on the show, for our 500th episode. It was a pleasure. Thank you.

Dr. Cheryl D. Miller:
Yes, Maurice. To everybody, just keep going and compete. Just compete. That’s all I have to say. And, don’t shy back. You have to be in it to win it, so go for it. There’s so many more now. There were only a few of us back in the day, Maurice. But now, the tribe is an army. All right? And so, we can move forward mightily, and I pray that blessing upon us all, and don’t resist AI, go get your certificate. Okay, my love.

Sponsored by Brevity & Wit

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Ray Billingsley

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!


Rich Hollant’s body of work is just…amazing. As the principal, strategist, and design director at CO:LAB (a firm he started in 1988), he has done work with everyone from Fortune 500 corporations to cities and municipalities with enriching social value projects. He’s won awards from AIGA, CADC, Print, HOW, and many other organizations. Rich is also going to be a new national board member for AIGA…and there’s even more!

While we did spend a good bit of time on the work that Rich and his firm does, our conversation touched on a lot of other points. Listen as Rich shares the secret to his business’ success and longevity, his philosophy on work and life, and learn how he says designers can get involved in social value projects. You’ll definitely want to take notes for this interview! Enjoy!


Revision Path is sponsored by Facebook Design. No one designs at scale quite like Facebook does, and that scale is only matched by their commitment to giving back to the design community.
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Revision Path is also sponsored by Hover. Visit hover.com/revisionpath and save 10% off your first purchase! Big thanks to Hover!
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