Zariah Cameron

September means it’s time for back to school, so what better way to kick off the month here on Revision Path than by talking with a design student? Meet Zariah Cameron, a soon-to-be graduate of North Carolina A&T and an up-and-coming voice in the design industry.

We talked about going through her senior year and working as an intern during this pandemic, and we also spoke about the AEI Design Program, an initiative she started to foster and establish relationships with partner companies to create a pipeline for Black college students. Zariah also shared some of her future goals, current obsessions, and what she’s learned from her internships throughout college. Keep an eye out for this young designer — she’s definitely going places!

Transcript

Full Transcript

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

Zariah Cameron:
Hi everyone. My name is Zariah Cameron. I am a senior graphic design student at North Carolina A&T State University. Within the past two years, I’ve been independently studying UX design, which is now the space that I’m in. And I’m now evolving into a UX equity strategist. It’s now my evolving role.

Maurice Cherry:
Nice. How has the summer been going for you?

Zariah Cameron:
This particular summer is definitely been an unexpected turn of events in the best of ways I could say. Of course, just the opportunities of being able to speak and be in spaces where I definitely feel supported by my black community, specifically Black Designers has been great, but it has been hectic. I’ve been working my internship as a UX designer and then preparing for my last semester of school and just with my program and all the things we’re gearing up for. So it’s been a very busy summer. I’m trying to find ways to prevent burnout and exhaustion, especially again in the middle of pandemic. I’m currently home. I haven’t really gone anywhere in a year and a half, so I think that mental exhaustion is hitting me a little bit.

Maurice Cherry:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. This whole year, I mean, especially I think this summer in particular, it is probably harder than last summer, well for two reasons. One, we have a vaccine. And two, people aren’t taking it. COVID rates are going back up. And so, I really feel for, I mean, not just parents right now that have unvaccinated children, but also students right now. This is such a pivotal time in your development right now, from 18 to 21, 22-ish, you don’t really get this time back. And for it to be take in place during such a very stressful time in the world right now is really tough. But I mean, given all of that, what are you kind of doing for self care? How are you maintaining yourself while taking on all these responsibilities?

Zariah Cameron:
Yeah, I feel like I always tell people sometimes it’s not enough time in the day, but I’ve been trying to force myself to implement that time and schedule that time because for a lot of people that do know me, I am a scheduler. If it’s not on my calendar, it pretty much doesn’t happen. So I’ve been trying to schedule in that time, whether it be through writing, whether it be through even binge watching. Just to have some mindless TV to just get my mind away from all the other responsibilities that I have. Going outside for a walk. I love hiking and going in nature whenever I can. And also, just journaling has been another way of me kind of releasing and relaxing from everything.

Maurice Cherry:
How would you say you’ve changed over the past year?

Zariah Cameron:
Gosh, I’ve changed a lot, but I really didn’t think that I’d change within a year being in the same exact place that I have been since March of 2020. But it’s surprising what a year will do. And within a year, I feel like I’ve gained so much confidence within myself and been able to really vocalize a lot of the things that I was maybe apprehensive or scared or anxious to express, whether it was me as an individual designer, as a person, as a community leader now. Those types of roles, I never really saw myself being a part of a year ago. And now, I’m leading the community. I’m advocating for other black design students. I’m being able to speak on that work through various different speaking engagements, which, one, I never at all saw myself as being that person to kind of go up and speak. But now I’ve just definitely seen myself evolved with being more authentically myself and being able to be comfortable doing that even if other people may have their own negative opinions towards that, and also being okay with that as well.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. I mean, speaking of opportunities, you spoke at this year at Where are the Black Designers Conference that they had back in June. I mean, that was a pretty stacked panel that you were on. The panel was called Navigating Different Design Professions and Levels as a Black Designer. And you’re on there with people that have been on Revision Path before; Kevin Bethune, Timothy Bardlavens, Gabrielle Smith, Raja Schaar, who I think is a professor at… I think she’s at either at Temple or Drexel.

Zariah Cameron:
Drexel.

Maurice Cherry:
One of the two. I get the-

Zariah Cameron:
Yeah, at Drexel.

Maurice Cherry:
At Drexel. I get the E in Temple and Drexel mixed up, but yeah, she’s at Drexel. And then moderated by Omari Souza, who someone else has been on the show. I mean, you held your own in that panel. Those were some really heavy hitters. I mean, to be able to really speak about the work that you’re doing and you’re still a college student is great. I mean, I think that’s wonderful.

Zariah Cameron:
Yeah. One, they’re all amazing people. Raja, I’m very close with. And so, to just be on the panel with her was just amazing, and just having that community. And I tell people being able to speak at the Where are the Black Designers Conference was really a full circle for me because I was an audience member just last year watching that. And so to be able to have that opportunity to speak on that panel and speak about my experiences was definitely an honor.

Maurice Cherry:
Now, you mentioned this internship that you were doing, or you just finished up. That was at Ally Bank. How was that experience?

Zariah Cameron:
It’s definitely a surprising experience. I did not know what to expect. I mean, I had gotten accustomed to… Well, I got a feel for the culture of the company with a few of events that I had been able to participate through my university and just Ally being a connected company. But I really didn’t know how that experience was going to be virtually. And from my past experiences, I kind of mixed the idea of interning or working at another financial institution. And so, I really wasn’t sure what this experience would be like.

Zariah Cameron:
I had expressed to my recruiter before I even accepted the offer and even when I accepted the offer that I really want to focus on inclusion work, equity work within the design space. Honestly, I really wasn’t sure how I was going to do that in a bank and what that would even look like, but I definitely had a really good experience and just being able to not only connect with other interns that look like me, that went to other HBCUs and even non-HBCU students and just the closest we had together in that virtual space, but also having like, I realized how important it is to have a manager that really supports you in your growth and your goals. And so I was very grateful to have a manager that did that. He kind of helped me to maneuver through that summer. And through that, I was able to get connected to this inclusive design team that was actually just starting up within our design organization.

Zariah Cameron:
And so, being able to be a part of that and lead a lot of discussions that I believe needed to happen, it allowed me to kind of realize or see what role I fit best within design, and also to see the importance of how design fits into helping marginalized communities reach that economic mobility and financial freedom. And so, it was definitely a great moment for me, and also just to have people that were supportive with me during that process too.

Maurice Cherry:
It’s interesting how financial institutions are starting to become sort of the vanguard of that kind of equity center design. We’ve had several people on the show before from Capital One. That’s such a huge part of their design ethos, is making sure that as you’re saying about underrepresented or marginalized communities have that financial freedom, but just the level of care that they put into all of their interactions to make sure that equity is part of the goal from conversation design, to even how they sort of lay out the physical layout of their banks and everything. It’s really interesting how that sector has been sort of a forefront when it comes to that.

Zariah Cameron:
Yeah, I definitely agree. I think I was able to see that from a financial lens and being able to have those conversations of like, “Hey, we really need to focus on the culture of our customers and focusing on working with our communities” and being able to provide this assistance, or, “Who are we actually excluding in these conversations?” and uncovering what our biases are or our assumptions are of our customers, or even people who could be potential customers of our bank and being able to create that organic relationship because we are an online bank. And so we have to be able to foster some type of connection to them, especially if we’re not going to be face-to-face.

Maurice Cherry:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I mean, look, my money is at Ally. So I trust that they’re doing the right thing. They’re doing something right. Let’s talk about the AEI Design Program. I first heard of this actually at the Where are the Black Designers Conference this year when you were speaking about it. But tell me more about the project. I mean, you started this while you were still a student. I mean, you’re still a student now, but you started this while you were at North Carolina A&T, right?

Zariah Cameron:
Yeah, I did. I started this right after actually Where are the Black Designers last year, and I was just very empowered and inspired by [inaudible 00:13:45]. I was able to connect with so many different black designers and have that support in that community. But unfortunately, I realized that a lot of what I was seeing, they were professionals. And I wanted something where there was a space just for us as students. Looking at my own journey, I realized that there were so many gaps that I was missing, and not just within my own education, but just the support whether it be mentorship, sponsorship, things like that, that were hindering me from really fully being successful or having access to certain resources or just knowledge in general that would help me get myself in that door of even just landing my first internship.

Zariah Cameron:
I realized there was a lot of other students, whether they went to a PWI or an HBCU, were experiencing those same challenges and they really didn’t have any type of community. No matter where they were, they didn’t feel any sense of belonging. And I wanted to bring that element to this space. And of course, there are tons of design student communities that were out there, but I wanted there to be a community just for us. And so we’ve evolved. I’ve evolved ever since then. I think AEI has definitely helped me to evolve into a leader that I never expected. I’ve always wanted to be some form of a leader, I just didn’t know what. And being able to have this program outside of just school has allowed me to flourish and have my own space and create a freedom to put all of these things out here with our programs, our events, all those different things. And also to be able to reach a larger audience than just the students that are within my school.

Zariah Cameron:
And so I was leading a team of three other students. And now we’re growing. We just added a few more team members to our group. And so I’m really excited of what we’ll be able to accomplish this upcoming school year too.

Maurice Cherry:
I mean, as far as when you’re doing all this organizing and you’re getting students and stuff together, are events kind of part of this as well? Are you staging any sort of virtual events?

Zariah Cameron:
Yeah. All of our events are virtual because I realized, again, there was that access component, and I want students to be able to access us even beyond this pandemic if we get out of it, and just being able to have access to those resources whether you’re in our state, whether you go to our school or you’re not. And that’s what I want to be, provide through this program. Actually, within the next few weeks, we’ll be actually launching our Fall Design Bootcamp where students will be able to work with our company partners and create a design solution based on their stated problem. And so I’m really excited for this because it not only gives an opportunity for students to connect with each other, with other black students, but also for them to connect with companies and for them to see firsthand on a more personal level of how these companies operate, what their processes are like, and to ask those hard questions and for the companies to just see that talent that’s there. So I’m really excited for this, in particular for this year.

Maurice Cherry:
How would you like to see AEI continue to grow? I mean, it sounds like you’re already on a good path right now.

Zariah Cameron:
Yeah, I’m really excited. I mean, of course, I’m hoping to have more company partnerships of course. But I mean just this year, this year in January, three or four of my students got landed their very first design internships. I think two of them are at Facebook right now. One of them’s at Spotify, and one of them landed a full time gig at Allscripts. I basically help them to transition through their interview process. And so, to see them land those interviews and land that offer was so thrilling for me. That’s one of my goals that I want to do this school year, as well as to continue to allow students to receive those offers and find a place where they feel comfortable and safe.

Zariah Cameron:
I also want within this next year to transition into our mental health initiative. A lot of students, especially during this pandemic, have definitely had burnout, have had several different experiences where their mental health has been at risk. Especially as a creative, I feel like we sometimes burn ourselves out even more because we’re exhausting so much creative energy. And so, I think one of my goals is to really start implementing different sessions or conversations around the importance of mental health and just finding that joy in our lives as black people and helping to separate ourselves from all the trauma that we have to endure and see and experience. And then I think my final thing is I’m in the process of making us an official nonprofit. So our main goal is the bootcamp, this mental health initiative, and leading into our nonprofit status.

Maurice Cherry:
That’s amazing. I mean, I’d take my hat off to you for being able to accomplish all of that even while you’re in school and doing these internships. I mean, that’s really admirable. I mean, I have to say you’re getting your career off to such a fantastic start right now, like you said, just helping out with community, it’s one thing to be able… Of course, you’re doing internships and being able to speak and stuff like that, but then to also give back to that community at the same time is, I mean, that’s really admirable.

Zariah Cameron:
Thank you. I definitely appreciate it. I think the reason why I wanted to start this out while I was in school is because I can see it from the lens of the student and I understand what those struggles are and what I’ve experienced. And I’m able to really advocate for what is a need. And not that people who are outside of school or far moved from school can’t advocate for those things, but I think within my current generation and just being within in the know of what really is going on and the realities of these educational institutions, I’m able to really speak on those gaps, those issues, and what solutions need to be implemented to move forward.

Maurice Cherry:
No, that makes sense. Students know what students need, you know? I mean, I couldn’t possibly guess what students now would want. I’m 20 something years removed from that so I couldn’t tell you. I mean, to be able to do it from that perspective is also a really added benefit.

Maurice Cherry:
Just to kind of switch gears a little bit here, because I’m curious where that spirit of volunteerism and everything sort of comes from. Tell me about where you grew up.

Zariah Cameron:
I grew up about… I always say I’m from Atlanta, Georgia, because a lot of people, when you say somewhere else, they’re like, “What? Where are you from?” So I’m about 30 minutes on the south side out from the city of Atlanta.

Zariah Cameron:
Design was never really a thought in my mind, that I would ever major in design. I’ve always seen myself as creative with writing, being an outlet, whether it be poetry, things like that, or even just expressing myself in a lot of different ways, but never really saw myself going into design. Because I was such a strong writer, I actually had in my mind all the way until my senior year that I was going to be a journalism major. That’s what I wanted to do. Everyone was always telling me that I was a strong writer and that was the direction that I was going to take.

Zariah Cameron:
But I was very fortunate enough to have the opportunity, for those that don’t know me, I went to a year-round school. That allowed me to have breaks in between the year when other students were in school. During that time, I was able to be around my dad who works in the College of Computing at Georgia Tech. And I was submerged in technology. I was just completely at awe by computer science and how tech was able to just change and impact lives. And through that, just being around there, I was able to work with Black Girls CODE and work with students and teach them and volunteer in those different ways. I think through that, it was like, “Wow, I’ve really liked doing this type of work.” I don’t know how I’m going to do it or what I’m going to do, but I really do like the space. And I also really love working with children and teaching them in some capacity because I love just when their eyes light up when they’ve learned something new, especially when it relates to technology.

Zariah Cameron:
And so at the time, design really wasn’t this great big… Especially UX design, it was not this great big buzz word or exciting space to be in that people were talking about, especially within academia. And so everyone was like, “Okay, if you want to be in technology, go into computer science. That’s the only way. That’s the only possible way you’re going to be in technology if you want to impact tech.” And so I was like, “Okay, well I guess this is the path that I want to go into.” And I always tell this part of the story because I think it’s important for students and anybody else to know and understand the path is not going to be perfect. It’s definitely not going to be linear. And just because you get one rejection doesn’t mean that is end of your journey.

Zariah Cameron:
And so, I applied to our Computer Science Program at my school, and I got rejected. I thought it was the end of the world and that I was not going to be able to make the impact that I wanted. But I’m very glad that I did get that rejection because I don’t think I would be where I am right now in my journey. My school has a Graphic Design department which explores elements of game design and obviously the foundational elements of graphic design. We learn a little bit of CAD and modeling and all these different areas. I decided to kind of go into that space because I’m like, “Okay, well I can go into design, and maybe still somewhat have an impact in technology.” Through that, I was able to transition into UX design very easily through just like me researching, doing things on my own.

Zariah Cameron:
UX design isn’t offered a part of our curriculum. But through that foundation that I did have through my school and just the support of my teachers, specifically my black teachers, they were able to kind of help me and guide me into this new space that I am now in, which is UX design. Like I said, this path was definitely not linear. It took me a long time to figure out what exactly I wanted to do. But I think with UX design, it allows me to get the best of both worlds of working in tech if I want to and being able to still be in that design space while also just being able to understand people and implement their stories and understand who they are to implement within the experience. I think that’s probably one of my favorite parts about UX is, it’s really is all about people. And I think being a writer, I’m a natural storyteller. And so I think it always resonates with me when I’m able to connect someone’s story to the experience that we’re creating within design and tech.

Maurice Cherry:
That’s a really great way to sort of tie those two concepts together. For a while, Revision Path had a kind of this writing initiative, we called it Recognize, where it was sort of like an essay submission sort of thing. People would submit essays around a certain theme, but they would have to be designed focused. For last year for example, the theme was Fresh. And so you would write design essays that sort of in some way encompass the theme of Fresh. My goal with it is actually kind of the goal of what you were sort of alluding to. It’s about using writing and using texts and using storytelling as a way to kind of also put forth these certain design concepts or things like that.

Maurice Cherry:
Unfortunately, Recognize was not super successful. We have to kind of shut it down this year. I hope to bring it back at some point in the future. But I like how you’re able to kind of tie into what writing does for you as a designer and how that storytelling ties into what you do with UX design. I think that’s a really powerful connection to make.

Zariah Cameron:
Yeah. Like I said, I think I finally found my space. Just because I think even within computer science, there is that level of strategy and critical thinking that I had the knack for. And now to be able to kind of have that skill set or mindset and implement that ideology within design has been just really great for me. I think now I’ve definitely seen myself evolve from just an individual contributor, like an individual design contributor, to this person that is really being able to lead conversations about how we think about design, in again as I mentioned before, that inclusion equity space.

Maurice Cherry:
Tell me more about the program at A&T. I think when folks look at HBCU and then they think about design, I’m not sure of North Carolina A&T is a school that they may readily think about. But can you just tell us like a little bit about the program and sort of what you’re going to remember the most from being at A&T? Because you’re about to graduate this semester.

Zariah Cameron:
Yeah. I wish that our program was a little bit more marketable. I wish they marketed us a little bit better, because I think a lot of students would benefit from just having black teachers that really want you to succeed and do well. And I think also, I wish that our particular department sat in a different space because I think sometimes we can get overlooked. So we sit within the College of Science and Technology. And so when a lot of people think of science and technology, you think of biology, chemistry, mathematics sits within that space too. And then you’ve got IT, informational systems, all those things like that. So you’ve got all these other majors, and then we have graphic design. And so, a lot of people whenever they think about the College of Science and Technology, they don’t think about that graphic design technology space being an option for them to major in especially because North Carolina A&T is especially known for agriculture, in the name, Engineering especially is one of the largest areas that we’re known for.

Zariah Cameron:
So again, design is really second priority. But I wish that it wasn’t, because again, like I said, I’ve had really great professors that have really helped me grow as a designer. Some definite tough love that’s been given to me and brief anecdote. I had a professor. I failed his class in my first year. I really just didn’t do well and had to retake it. And the second time, I got a B+. He had written and I told him, I was like, “Thank you. Thank you for helping me to get to this point.” And he was like, “I already knew you could do it. You just have to really prove to people that you can do it and you have the capability because I know it’s already in there.” And just him really believing in me and giving me that tough love that I needed, just helped me to appreciate not only him more but the space that I’m in, and really been able to push myself that much harder and see what I can achieve.

Zariah Cameron:
I think having those people in your corner that are looking out for you in that way is one of the best experiences. Now, reflecting and looking back, now that I’m getting ready to graduate, it’s something that I definitely love and will miss. Yeah, I have some more thoughts, but I’ll stop talking [inaudible 00:31:10].

Maurice Cherry:
No, I have to say that’s one thing about HBCUs that… I don’t know. You just don’t get that at other schools. The professors really do care. And that’s not to say that at PWIs and at other schools, other professors don’t care. But I mean I can only speak from my experience also going to an HBCU. I went to Morehouse. I mean, there’s just a certain different level of care. They’re really looking out for you in ways that you may not even really be considering. I mean, don’t get me wrong. There’s some professors that are like, “You’re just another student, just another number, et cetera.” But I think once you get into your degree program, you’d be surprised just how much the professors are really rooting for you and wanting to make sure that you succeed, because it looks good on them if they have graduates that come out of the program. So it makes sense that at HBCUs that they would just be more open to that.

Maurice Cherry:
And then of course, it’s just as black people helping black people. I’ve had several other folks on the show that when they talk about their time at other design institutions that I won’t name, but they’re not HBCU, but at other design institutions, it’s rough. Their educational experience is rough. There’s no mercy. And certainly not anywhere their having black professors or even really able to design towards their culture in the work that they do. I mean, you have all these different inherent benefits that come with being able to study at an HBCU. And just from what you’re sharing about the program, sounds like it’s a really great program. I mean, NC A&T overall is a great school. I think it’s one of the biggest research institutions in North Carolina. I’m guessing probably second to UNC.

Zariah Cameron:
Yeah, [inaudible 00:32:59]. I mean, of course, every school has it’s… I really had to advocate for myself and try to reach out to certain people and do certain things that I was like, “Hey.” That I actually saw everything that these companies had to offer, the realities of what things were, and being able to kind of bring that back to the students within my program and show that like, “Hey, there actually is great black designer talent that needs to be sought after.”

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. Duke is the other school that I was thinking about.

Zariah Cameron:
Yeah.

Maurice Cherry:
Folks that went to Duke don’t kill me, I was like… But I know that North Carolina A&T though, is one of the big research institutions in the state. So that’s good to know. And also while you were at A&T, you worked at a number of internships. I mean, you mentioned Ally. But you worked at what? Like two or three other companies while you were there, right?

Zariah Cameron:
Yeah, I did. I worked for Wells Fargo last summer. It’s kind of weird because all my internships that I’ve had have all been virtual so I have no idea what this corporate world will look like once we go back in person. That’s going to be a whole another, I guess, hill or road we’ll have to cross to get there. But yeah, I interned at Wells Fargo. I wasn’t a designer, but it gave me the perspective of just how things work, how systems work, how corporate space work, how financial institutions are run, and in some ways being that fly on the wall of seeing the realities of what things were. But it gave me perspective of not just… Even though I wasn’t a designer for that particular role, I was a QA, I was a quality assurance analyst. And so that role taught me how to really pay attention to the details, the importance of how things work and how things function within a platform, a tool, and pointing out those shortcomings of how we can really better improve those products for the user.

Zariah Cameron:
And so, that really helped me to analyze a lot things better when it came to actually designing. And then recently what this is, I worked for a startup. It was really small. That was really catered to black women’s hair and finding the right hair regimen for them. And that was a really great experience to kind of work on it from the ground up and being able to work with other black women that had natural hair and just pouring my own experience, my own stories, and other people’s research and hair journeys into that. So that was a really fun experience. It’s also challenging in that quick, fast paced type of environment.

Zariah Cameron:
And then recently, before Ally I worked at PepsiCo as sort of a UX, UI designer, which I focus more on UI. And so, I realized I’m a better UX designer than a UI designer. I think people definitely should understand the difference because I think sometimes we group it together, but they definitely are separate things and have their own responsibilities. And I think people are stronger or, I guess, weaker in certain spaces. I definitely saw myself as more of a UX designer. But through that experience, I learned so much. I learned about the responsibilities and the job of a UI designer and how much work it takes in the input and all the different intricacies that you have to think about when developing certain things.

Zariah Cameron:
So that was a really good experience as well. And then I think just as I’ve grown, I’ve evolved and figured out what’s the best space for me to be in through all these different internship opportunities that I’ve had, and just where do I not only feel the most supported but also safe because I’ve definitely thought a lot about myself as a black designer. I’m not just a designer working at a company. But really just caring about the impact that I make. And does that company actually, or the people really care about my wellbeing and not just my individual contribution to the product?

Maurice Cherry:
And you say all these internships that you’ve done have been virtual. What is that like? What is a virtual internship like? Just kind of give a brief example of what that’s like.

Zariah Cameron:
I’m not going to just say, oh my gosh, it sucks, but it is a lot harder. Because, one, with PepsiCo for example, I was working or having to interact with working on a project with a physical product. And so it was a lot harder because it was like, “Okay. I’m designing for a physical product that I can not see, feel, touch anything. I can’t interact with to see how it functions to better make improvements on it.” And so it was more or less like, “Okay, well I have to watch videos. And I have to figure out, watch customer reviews on this product to see what are their pain points without me actually being able to physically interact with it myself, which was definitely harder.

Zariah Cameron:
I think if I was in the office, I could just go to that room, look at the product, be like, “Okay, this is what’s wrong.” And I think it’s even more crucial for black people because you do want to make sure that this is a safe and healthy space for you. I heard a lot of people have very toxic experiences from companies. I think that’s the one big fear because you can easily hide behind a screen and you don’t really know what that culture is like, and they could be portraying something that may not even be realistic. And then you get in the office and it’s something completely different.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. It’s interesting. The conversation in tech over the past, I don’t know, maybe like six or seven years has been around, of course, making sure that these tech companies and design focused companies are safe spaces for black people and people of color to work in. And now with the pandemic and it’s driving people to have to work from home, how do you make sure that that same feeling is also existing in the virtual space? I mean, I just know from the past few places where I’ve worked at that have been sort of a hybrid of remote and even in the office, and then of course with the pandemic driving it to be fully remote, it’s amazing how different sort of microaggressions can kind of pop up or just different sort of ways that you can feel left out in a way.

Maurice Cherry:
I mean, I think that’s something that companies are still going to have to deal with and try to figure out as it looks like this is not abating anytime soon. We’re still going to be on this kind of hybrid/fully remote sort of workforce thing. But how do you make sure that those digital spaces are also going to be safe and accommodating for your workers that are people of color? That’s the best way to put it.

Zariah Cameron:
I definitely agree. I think working with Ally is probably one of the best [inaudible 00:40:36] so far, just because, like I said, I’ve never been able to connect with other interns in this way. I think that was a big thing. The way that they’re recruiting was… I don’t even know how they did it, but they just chose a really good intern class that reflected the culture of the company that they were really trying to promote. Of course, again like I said, every company has its shortcomings and things like that, but I believe like from the top down, everyone was welcoming and really wanting to promote that culture where you can email an executive and they would reach out to you and they would meet with you and answer your questions or talk to you and have a brief conversation.

Zariah Cameron:
I think that openness is something that you don’t always get a chance to have and get exposure to. And so, I think not only having a intern class but also having your recruiters really just help you have that personal experience as best as you can in this virtual space. Again, like I said, it was hard not being able to be in the office and collaborate. Especially as designer, it’s so hard. You’ve got to find all these alternative ways to collaborate together to design, to communicate virtually, that it can make things a little bit more difficult. But I mean, if the people are good, I think the collaboration will kind of fall in line with that energy and that team chemistry.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. Right now is your… I mean, again, you’re at this very pivotal point in your educational career as well as just your professional career, about to get out there in the working world. Do you feel supported as a black designer?

Zariah Cameron:
There’s many different ways we can take that. I want to say yes, but I feel like yes is such a short answer. I think depending on what area of my life that I am a black designer, it could go yes, or maybe, or even no. I think with my Black Designers community, I’ve been able to find amazing mentors/friends who have really supported me and been like, “Hey, if you want to take a break, it’s okay if you want to take a break. We’re still going to be here when you come back and we’re going to be holding down the fort till you get back while you’re gone.” And being able to be comfortable and also vulnerable with these people has been such a privilege because I know a lot of people don’t get a chance to do that or don’t feel comfortable enough to.

Zariah Cameron:
So I think in that way, this community like Where are the Black Designers, my Black Ignite community, those people have really allowed me to be comfortable being my authentic self and also being vulnerable enough to express certain concerns or issues that I may have that’s going on in my life, whether it be personal or within my career. So I think in that way, I feel supported. I think in a corporate setting, I’m still navigating through that. I would say yes from certain people, but of course, I’m still getting a feel for what that is and what people’s intentions are. I think for the most part, I would say yes.

Zariah Cameron:
But then again, it’s just been something I’ve been thinking about. Even looking at Simone Biles and her deciding to leave the Olympics because of her mental health. And people just giving so much backlash to her making that decision because she was prioritizing her mental health and just the exhaustion energy that she was giving out and probably just how tired she was. And just seeing how people only appreciate your skill and the value you bring over your actual health and you as a person. I think that’s the biggest thing that I’m concerned about is like, “Are you really caring about me and my self as a human being? Or is it just the value that I bring to this company? The value that I bring to this community? The value I bring to this school?” or whatever it may look like. That’s where I’m trying to find what that balance is, and who are those people that I should have in my corner, and who are those people that will have access to those versions or sides of me. So that’s kind of where I am.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah, it’s really tricky now. I mean, I say that as someone that’s been in the industry for a while. I mean, certainly within the past 10 to 12 years or so, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in really just black spaces at design. There’s podcasts like this, but there’s conferences, there’s meetups, there’s initiatives like what you’re doing with AEI Design Program. A lot of that stuff really didn’t exist 10 years ago. It was hard to find. And so it can be interesting now, especially if you exist among different identities. Like, if you’re just like a cis black man, and there may be one thing. But what if you’re a woman? What if you’re a member of the LGBT community? What if you identify a different part of the gender spectrum? The level of support that you would get as a black designer can even vary within all of those spaces and so. It’s still evolving like you said, I think. It’s a big question with a not so simple answer. So I feel you there.

Zariah Cameron:
Yeah. That’s kind of where I’m at with all of this. It’s like in certain places I could say, yes, that I do feel supported. In other spaces, it’s like you’re on the fence and you’re not really completely sure.

Maurice Cherry:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Zariah Cameron:
You still have to only give one element of you. I guess that’s where code switching comes in. But even then, it’s like code switching is this element of losing a sense of your identity. That’s a whole another thing that I’m trying to navigate through.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. What are you obsessed with right now?

Zariah Cameron:
In terms of personal life?

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah, I was going to say you can answer that any way you like. Personal, professional, whatever.

Zariah Cameron:
I would say… What am I obsessed right now? I think right now it’s maybe a weird answer, but I’m honestly obsessed with the friendships that I’ve gotten to have over this past year. It’s very overwhelming. I’ve never had friend group of black designers or even designers that have really been so overwhelmingly loving to me, not only my career but just me as a person, and really being that support system that I needed. I think for so long…

Zariah Cameron:
I mean, even the people that are like, “Oh, well you go to HBCU. Of course, you have support.” And I’m like, “Yes, but even within that HBCU, there are groups.” There are groups. And so, sometimes you don’t always fit into those groups. Or even within those groups that you may be a part of, you still don’t completely feel a sense of belonging. And so to be able to go in a space, be around people that care about me and love me for just who I am and whether I change or evolve or whatever phase of my life that I’m growing into, that they’re there to support me and guide me through those different shifts, those different transitions.

Zariah Cameron:
And I know, like I said, weird answer in terms of being obsessed. But I think, like I have my own podcast with Heatherlee who’s the founder of Black Ignite, and just how our lives cross within a year, I would have never imagined for our friendship to be where it is, going from professional relationship to this very personal friendship that I value very deeply and to be able to work on this podcast with her and hear her story and how much our stories literally are parallel to each other. And so being able to have people like her and other people like Mitzi, like my Design to Divest Community as well. Having them in my corner is something I’m truly become obsessed with and want to continue to be around and want to just have that energy around me, that healthy energy. Because sometimes being around your own people still isn’t healthy, so having those people in those relationships has been really great for me within this past year.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. Aside from those friendships, have you had any mentors or anyone that have really kind of helped you out either over this past year or just along the way in your journey as a designer?

Zariah Cameron:
Yeah. I’ve had a lot of different people, some that I’m very, very fortunate and very grateful to have in my life. And they’re all for different reasons. At first, at the start of my career or even school experience, I thought that I could really only have one said mentor, and that’s what it is. But as I’m evolving, I realized I need different mentors for different things, different spaces in my life. And so, I’ve had mentors that have taught me about just how to run my program, guiding me answering those questions as we’re moving into becoming a nonprofit, understanding elements of brand strategy for our program. Then I have mentors that who I now can call friends as well, who have helped me, guide me as a person and just where I need to go on my life.

Zariah Cameron:
And then of course, I have two of my really close professors. One in particular that has become a very good mentor to me, that actually was the one who got me into UX design that just I go for not only personal advice, but of course career advice as well. So I think over this past year, I’ve definitely had some great champions and mentors in my corner that are designated to different areas of my life to help me to flourish.

Maurice Cherry:
Where do you see yourself in the next five years? What kind of work would you like to be doing?

Zariah Cameron:
Getting my PhD.

Maurice Cherry:
Okay.

Zariah Cameron:
I mean, yes, that is a goal of mine. I’ve expressed I will not… a lot of people have told me like, “Oh, why don’t you just go ahead and get your PhD now?” I’m like, “I’m exhausted. I’m tired. I do not want to go through school again at the moment.” But I think eventually, right now I currently see myself leading a community, wherever that may be in, whether that be in the corporate space, I definitely see myself leading those conversations surrounding equity within the design space and growing in that, because that is a space that I want to continue to be in, in various different areas, whether it’s like I said, in the corporate space, leading my community, or even teaching. I think eventually I want to get my PhD within this element of design and psychology in understanding people. And to be able to eventually [inaudible 00:53:17] down the line teach to students, teach to that next generation college students that are coming in.

Zariah Cameron:
I think by then I already have that experience of being in the corporate world myself, and I can be able to instill that wisdom and have those connections to people through my community to be able to give back to those students that I’m teaching. That’s eventually where I want to evolve myself into.

Maurice Cherry:
And just to kind of wrap things up here, where can our audience find out more about you, and your work, and everything you’re doing online?

Zariah Cameron:
Yeah, one, they can find me on Medium, in terms of my writing. By the way, an article will be coming out, not through my Medium, but through the Ally Tech Blog on inclusive design being more than a buzz word. So definitely look out for that. And then you can find me on LinkedIn. I’m very active on there, and it’s of course just my name. And then you can find me at Instagram. It’s just my name, zariah.cameron. And then of course our program, our program’s Instagram, aeidesign_. You can find me active on all of those. Definitely feel free to follow me and stay connected, especially those who want to get plugged into my community, my program, and even companies wanting to work with us, and just people just wanting to connect and definitely open to that.

Maurice Cherry:
Sounds good. Well, Zariah Cameron, I want to thank you so much for coming on the show, for taking time to come out on the show. Like I said, it’s been a while since we’ve had a design student on the show, particularly one from an HBCU. But when I first heard about you at Where are the Black Designers and heard you speak and everything, I was like, “I got to get her on the show just to have her talk about what she’s doing.” I mean, just the fact that you’re accomplishing this much as a student, I think bodes so well for your future career. I’m really excited to see what you’re able to accomplish once you graduated and really got out there in the design world, and are able to make an even bigger impact. So thank you so much for coming on the show. I appreciate it.

Zariah Cameron:
No, thank you. It’s been such an honor, and thank you for asking such great questions. I love being able to share my story with you and the audience.

Sponsored by Adobe MAX

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Support for Revision Path comes from Adobe MAX.

Adobe MAX is the annual global creativity conference and it’s going online this year — October 26th through the 28th. This is sure to be a creative experience like no other. Plus, it’s all free. Yep – 100% free!

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Sponsored by Brevity & Wit

Brevity & Wit

Brevity & Wit is a strategy and design firm committed to designing a more inclusive and equitable world.

We accomplish this through graphic design, presentations and workshops around I-D-E-A: inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility.

If you’re curious to learn how to combine a passion for I-D-E-A with design, check us out at brevityandwit.com.

Brevity & Wit — creative excellence without the grind.

Reese Fuller

Whether you like it or not, writing is an integral part of the design process these days, and no one knows this better than this week’s guest, Reese Fuller. As a senior writer for digital agency Work & Co, Reese works with visual designers and strategists to help “make the words sound good.”

Our conversation started off with Reese detailing how he works as a writer in a design agency, talked about his switch from STEM to writing, and cleared up some misconceptions designers may have about including writing in the design process. Reese also spoke about growing up in the DMV area, the difference for him between working in agencies vs. in-house at companies, and gives some great advice and resources for any designers looking to strengthen their writing. Don’t sleep on the written word — with examples like Reese, it’s clear that there’s more than one way to be in the design industry!

Transcript

Full Transcript

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

Reese Fuller:
I’m Reese Fuller, I’m a writer. I think that sort of manifested as being a brand copywriter in some instances, a verbal designer in other instances. But right now, I’m a senior writer at an agency called Work & Co.

Maurice Cherry:
All right. Now, we’re in the second half of the year. By the time this interview airs will be in August, my goodness. How’s 2021 been for you so far?

Reese Fuller:
It’s been good. It’s been a lot better than 2020, I’ll say that much. But yeah, it’s been good. I think, the summer … I mean, I’m based in New York so the city now is sort of reactivating, as I’d like to say, in a lot of ways. It’s just been really good to reconnect with friends, really good to start going out again, just be outside more comfortably. I think work has been going really well, just excited to see what the future holds. Things has just been really positive. I’m trying to maintain that energy.

Maurice Cherry:
Nice. And I guess along that vibrational frequency, since we’re talking about energy, do you have any plans or anything? Anything you’re manifesting for the rest of the year?

Reese Fuller:
Yeah. I mean, I’m pretty excited. I got a wedding coming up next month in September, so I’m headed-

Maurice Cherry:
You’re wedding?

Reese Fuller:
No.

Maurice Cherry:
Oh.

Reese Fuller:
A wedding of a friend, wedding of a friend [crosstalk 00:04:49]-

Maurice Cherry:
Okay, okay.

Reese Fuller:
… seen in a while given we’ve all been hunkered down these past several months, 18 months or so. I’m looking forward to going home and reconnect with some friends that I haven’t seen in a while.

Reese Fuller:
Yeah, professionally, I think there are a few really interesting opportunities on the horizon. Some work we’ve done with past clients over the past several months manifesting into more work, which we’re all super excited about. So, you’re to get started on those projects as well.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah.

Reese Fuller:
Yeah, yeah, just looking forward.

Maurice Cherry:
Was it kind of a big departure? I know Work & Co. has offices in a lot of different cities. They have one in New York as well. But was it a big shift when the pandemic started, shifting from working in office to now being remote?

Reese Fuller:
Yeah, totally. I mean, I started at Work & Co. in April of 2020, just as the pandemic was sort of kicking into high gear. So, yeah, it was a really interesting experience, I’d say, getting to know people strictly through a Zoom screen, having not met most of the teams and people I’d be working with in the day-to-day in person yet. But I think, in a number of ways, it was better for me maybe as an individual and also as a writer.

Reese Fuller:
I found that in some places it can be hard to find the headspace or the quiet space to get really down into writing mode, like heads down kind of approach. So I’ve been able to work from home and just have more control over my space and my time, which really is an interesting and positive departure, I’d say. Definitely it had its challenges as well, but in a lot of ways it worked out for the better.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. I mean, I think with any sort of thing like that, especially if you’ve been used to working in offices and now you start a completely new gig and it’s at the time 100% remote, there is a bit of an adjustment period to just kind of shifting into that different mind frame. Because, yeah, you have the conveniences of home, but you also have to be able to really, I think, compartmentalize the fact that you’re working from home and that you can’t do the same stuff at home that you would do if you weren’t working.

Reese Fuller:
Yeah. No, totally. I started to miss the commute in a weird way, just to speak on compartmentalizing. Just like, be able to change from headspace to headspace, work life to home life. A lot of that happens, or at least happened, for me on the train going to and from the office. So, when your commute becomes walking to the kitchen table and taking a seat, it’s not too much of a transition.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. So, tell me more about the work that you’re doing at Work & Co.

Reese Fuller:
Yeah. Like I said, I’m a senior writer at Work & Co. I think pretty largely that means UX writing, is how I would describe it otherwise, but it feels like it’s more than that. I’ll say, organizationally, we sit as part of the design team but the role itself is super cross functional. I work with designers or strategists or even sometimes the new business team. Generally, I just say what my goal is. The simplest way to put it is that I make the word sound good or as good as they can.

Reese Fuller:
If that’s a product, for example, it’s about making the user experience however we want it to be. That could mean maybe it’s simpler, or more educational, or more inspiring, or engaging or whatever. But ultimately, just having a goal in mind or a vision for how the product feels and sounds and what it’s all about, and trying to communicate that, translate that and express that through writing and shaping a design process. That’s a part of that as well.

Maurice Cherry:
Now, anyone that has, I think, listened to this show for, I don’t know, maybe the last two or three years has definitely heard me really sort of beat the drum as it comes to why designers need to write more or they need to start getting into writing. It’s interesting because, to that end, with this being a design podcast, we haven’t had any writers on. You’re the first writer that we’ve had on the show which, congratulations, making Black history.

Reese Fuller:
Thank you. Truly an honor every day, making Black history.

Maurice Cherry:
As I’ve done this show and I’ve gotten to talk with design managers and product managers at a bunch of different places, I’ve seen design departments now start to include writers more as part of their teams. They may call it something different than writer. They may call it content designer, UX writer, et cetera, but they’re including writing as part of the team. Can you talk to me about the importance of writing in the design process? Because you said that you make the word sound good, but what does that process really entail in the design process?

Reese Fuller:
Yeah. At Work & Co. specifically, I think I’ve had a really great opportunity to be on a few projects almost from end to end, starting in the concepting phase where we’re going broad, I would say. Just figuring out the best expressions, most interesting expressions or whatever.

Reese Fuller:
Sort of problem we’re trying to solve with the product, get it down in a detailed design where we’ve had a number of reviews with a client; or are more settled in on a more specific product vision and getting into the nitty gritty of like, what should this micro copy be? Or, what’s the best articulation of this ETA? Even down to some extent into engineering and development. We actually build and then ship the projects that we’re working on, to just sort of availing myself as a resource for any last-minute edits or thoughts from a writing perspective.

Reese Fuller:
But I think the biggest addition that a writer brings to a project, just a different perspective and a different approach. It’s like coming from other kinds of writing backgrounds. Just thinking about not just the words but the entire message and personality that is expressed through words in a project. It’s just a different approach. You hear so often that projects are often made stronger or the work made better by more diverse teams and a number of ways, whether that’s gender, race or religion. But I think discipline is another degree vector for that type of diversity as well. Just adding a writer to the mix is just a new way of looking at the work.

Reese Fuller:
Today, a lot of the conversations that I’ll have with PMs or designers might fall under the category of content strategy, others may be more brand expression but at the end of the day it’s always about just making the work as strong as it could be and do what it needs to do.

Maurice Cherry:
That’s interesting you brought that up from a diversity standpoint because, yeah, in this case it’s diversity of discipline but also, I would imagine, it is just a diversity of perspective. I mean, if you’ve got a bunch of designers on the team, they may still all be looking at something through a specific design eye or a design lens or a design framework or something. You can come in not being, say, a visual designer and look at it in an entirely different fashion that they wouldn’t have even thought about. That input is super valuable because you don’t want to have homogenous teams that are just cranking out the same stuff without those sorts of considerations into play.

Reese Fuller:
Yeah. Yeah, totally.

Maurice Cherry:
Like I say, writing gigs, like I mentioned, they have different titles or content designer, content specialists, content strategies. I think earlier you said verbal designer? You said that? I’ve never heard that one. That’s a new one to me. Do you think that it helps to have all these distinctions when it comes to that?

Reese Fuller:
I think so. I think in the same way people will sort of subdivide visual design, specialty or focus whether you’re a product designer, or a brand designer, or a motion designer. I think, although there’s a lot of overlap in those skill sets and the tools that you use and your approach to the work, you’re still approaching things from the same perspective either visual or verbal.

Reese Fuller:
On the verbal side of the writing side, we begin to make those distinctions as well, like I said, between content strategists or a UX writer, or a verbal designer even. I think those are just other ways of articulating what more specific perspective you might be approaching a project from and what skills you might bring to a conversation. It’s not to say that you can’t in a lot of moments contribute beyond that specific role or a specific title even, but it just helps to set expectations and level set on what you might be able to bring to the project.

Maurice Cherry:
Now, what does your creative process look like when it comes to starting on a project? Where do come in the mix?

Reese Fuller:
Oh, it depends. I think my approach, it’ll vary project to project. But typically, what I want to do is find the person on the project who either is the most senior or is driving the conversation and kind of grab their ear a little bit.

Reese Fuller:
I think a lot of the time, whether you’re a writer or a designer, the experience can be getting brought on to a project in the middle of things. Like, we’ve gotten feedback from a client already and we’re just solving this specific ask or, alternatively, it’s a new project kickoff. It’s a brand-new onboarding experience for everybody.

Reese Fuller:
But typically, just trying to find the person or persons who feel like they’re leading the conversation and sort of getting a sense of place in geography around what the bigger goal of the project is at present and then, after figuring that out, seeing what problems I can be able to solve with words. It can be a very tactical thing like, “We are in our third set of design feedback on this specific purchase flow, and right now the client thinks that the copy is just too long and uninspiring. So, can you make it shorter and simpler and sparkle a little bit more?” That is one approach.

Reese Fuller:
Or it could be, on the other end of that spectrum, maybe there’s a bigger organizational issue almost where the product, or brand even, does not have a distinctive voice, there’s no documented set of brand guidelines for voice and tone, and maybe using that as an opportunity to contribute as a writer and produce an artifact and object that is super useful and helpful, and it can help put guard rails around design decisions for the future.

Reese Fuller:
So, it does vary from project to project, but ultimately it just goes back to trying to solve problems by using words, whatever those problems are.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. I mean, I would imagine the stuff that you’re writing, it’s a lot of different stuff. It’s copy in terms of … I mean, I don’t know. It would depend on what the type of project is, but I would say like actual paragraphs of copy or you may be doing microcopy like alerts or statuses or things like that. Is that how it generally breaks down with the type of writing that you do on a project?

Reese Fuller:
Yeah. I mean, that’s a pretty big portion of it. I think there are other opportunities as well where we can get in a little bit further upstream and, like I mentioned, be able to define the voice and tone for a brand or product and have that be a little bit more of a high-level output.

Reese Fuller:
But yeah, a lot of the time it is executions like that where it’s, here’s a moment where a user might be frustrated, a pain point. Can we insert a little bit of microcopy or a toast or notification to sort of lift their spirits and usher them in the right direction? And what is the expression of that verbally that feels right for their brand and also doesn’t take up too much time? That is in a lot of instances copy, executions like that.

Maurice Cherry:
There’s a gig that I worked at recently where I was doing some content strategy work. I was in a meeting … I forget who it was; I wasn’t at this gig very long. But I was in a meeting and I remember one of the designers … I don’t know. They just went off talking about how much they hated writing. It was because they had … I think they had started to create some copy and people were giving feedback on the copy. She just burst into this tantrum, like, “I just hate writing. Writing is not my thing. I hate writing. We really need to have someone else to do the writing so I don’t have to think about it. I’m not a writer, I’m a designer. I’m here to design. Why am I writing?” I was like, “Whoa,” especially because I was the content strategist for that particular project that she was writing about.

Maurice Cherry:
But it’s interesting how … I mean, I don’t know if this is a sentiment shared by a lot of designers, but I would imagine being a design writer or being a writer on a design team like that. Those, I guess, help in terms of not giving the more visual designers or maybe the more front-end people stuff they have to worry about when it comes to, “Oh, does this sound right?”

Reese Fuller:
Yeah. No, totally. I mean, although I am a writer, there is a part of me that hates writing too. You know it is work, it is a craft. You know it is something you have to try hard to get better at. But also, a lot of the time, I hate trying to design too because I think … Maybe share somewhat of a similar experience to this designer you mentioned where it’s like you’re trying to express yourself or get something out that fulfills a purpose or solves a problem, but you just don’t necessarily have the tools or just doesn’t feel right. Like, when I’m trying to put frames together and move copy around in Figma and I’m just not learning the tool. I’m like, is this deep learning curve? That’s frustrating.

Reese Fuller:
So, definitely, I feel that sometimes too. But I think part of the beauty of, like you mentioned, this sort of shift in the makeup of design teams to include more writers is that recognition of this is balancing the expression a little bit more and making the product feel a little bit more whole and fully considered.

Reese Fuller:
I think about some of my earlier internships as advertising copywriter. I will describe it as those more traditional art director copywriter duos where there is a person who thinks and communicates and expresses themselves visually, that has a dedicated partner who is someone who thinks and communicates and expresses themselves with words, and being the dynamic that hopefully produces more balanced, better work at the end of the day because people, again, approach creativity differently.

Reese Fuller:
So, yeah, I think writing is a lot more, maybe debatably, a more democratic kind of expression. I feel like although a lot of people will say, “I’m not a writer,” everyone writes.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah.

Reese Fuller:
Well, not everybody, but most people in professional context have to write to some capacity.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah, you got to write an email.

Reese Fuller:
Yeah, exactly, right? Or Slack message. So, when it comes to putting words in a product that hopefully millions of people are going to use and it’d be helpful or functional for them, there’s a lot of pressure on those words to be right; let alone, presenting those words in front of a slew of clients and stakeholders.

Reese Fuller:
So, yeah, it can be frustrating in a lot of instances, but I do think having writers on the team, again, just balances that out and gives someone the opportunity to own that part of a project as well and also help shape the design process too.

Maurice Cherry:
You know, it almost sounds like writing is a form of design.

Reese Fuller:
Who would’ve thunk? Yeah. Yeah, I think of … I can’t remember the name of the researcher but there was an experiment where people would see either rounded shapes or more angular shapes and be asked by the research team, “Would you describe this shape as more of a kiki or a bouba?” More often than not, people would name the angular shape a kiki and the rounded shape a bouba because I think there is some inherent connection between processing things visually and processing things verbally that we all just begin to understand in a very similar way.

Reese Fuller:
So I do think, to bring it back to your earlier point, that they’re just two different kinds of expressions, two different kinds of design at the end of the day.

Maurice Cherry:
What do you think people misunderstand when it comes to what you do, being a writer in a design process? Is there other things that people just don’t get?

Reese Fuller:
I think one of the things that I’ve had some conversations around in the past just to sort of … I think setting people straight feels like a little bit too intense of a way to describe it but it is a lot more, sometimes it can be, hopefully, than, although I did use this phrase earlier, making the word sound good, that’s part of what we do, yes, as writers on design teams. But to the spirit of thinking of writing as a kind of design, it really is, in a more holistic way, shaping a project or a piece of design through writing in a way that is bigger than just, does this sentence fit on a CTA button and looked good? Does the type laid out on this headline for your welcome email looked too much?

Reese Fuller:
I think there’s a lot of moments where … I’ve experienced several moments where the design feels like it’s already set in place and they just want a writer to come in and line edit the copy. But we can really bring, I think, a lot more to a project than that by being brought on at an earlier phase. So, yeah, I think that’s one of the bigger misconceptions.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. I see writing as being super important because good writing engages all your senses. Of course, you read something, you hear it. In a way it also kind of, I don’t know if I might be stretching this in terms of taste, but you know when you’ve read something that is difficult to read or it sounds cumbersome or something like that. It just doesn’t sound right or feel right in your mouth, right?

Maurice Cherry:
But then, even good words that you use can trigger certain memories. Good words can trigger a scent memory, it can trigger a taste memory, it could trigger a touch memory or anything like that. I mean, it’s really important because there’s so many words that you can use, there’s of course slang and jargon. That factors into depending on what kind of project that you have. Writing is just such a really important part of the design process. I’m glad to see that design teams are really starting to embrace that more and keep writers in the design fold because it is a really powerful part of what it is that we do.

Reese Fuller:
Yeah, totally. And I think, to your point, it’s also just shaping and communicating the personality of a product or a brand. Like, if you got a welcome email from a new retailer that you just signed up for their newsletter, the difference between, “Yo, what’s up, Maurice?” or “Hello, welcome to,” so and so “Maurice,” feels very distinct, and that’s a writing decision to make at the outset.

Reese Fuller:
So, in every moment, in every screen where there are words, that is an opportunity, potentially, to communicate something about the product that a user is using. Or, I think more functionally, with more utility, what they can get from it and how to do that. So, yeah, I think writing is really important in that process and in a lot of ways.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. Let’s switch gears here a little bit.

Reese Fuller:
Sure.

Maurice Cherry:
I mean, I know we’ve gotten to know a bit about your work and what you do, but I’m curious to just learn more about your origin story, essentially. You say that you are in New York right now. Are you originally from there?

Reese Fuller:
No, I’m not. I’ve been in New York for maybe eight years or so, but I’m originally from Maryland.

Maurice Cherry:
Okay.

Reese Fuller:
I grew up in the suburbs outside of DC. Actually, I went to high school at the same high school as one of your former guest, Ari Melenciano.

Maurice Cherry:
Okay.

Reese Fuller:
Yeah. We went to school in Maryland together. There, I was really into STEM. I was really interested in physics and engineering. I interned at NASA my junior year. I was at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah.

Reese Fuller:
That was really fun. But that same year, I had a really awesome writing teacher and writing class. I just, all of a sudden, was really interested in writing as this structural craft. She broke down literally the formula, almost, of how to write a good essay. I didn’t know that writing could be so structural and formulaic in a way that I was already thinking about math and science and engineering and physics. I was like, “Oh, now I’m really interested in writing. Let’s pivot super hard.”

Reese Fuller:
So, coming out of high school, I went to school in Baltimore, Maryland, at UMBC. I had some personal life events happen that, in addition to the burgeoning interest in writing, really made me curious about why people behave, act the way they do; why they think what they think. So, I studied psychology and sociology. I did a double major, but I minored in writing and philosophy.

Reese Fuller:
While I was learning about behavior en masse, I was also doing all these extracurriculars. I was tutoring at the writing center on campus. We had a lit mag called the Bartleby, I was the fiction editor of. I was writing for this online magazine that was about fashion and music. It was like streetwear culture. So, always sort of complementing, or at least I thought, my academics into more research-oriented studies with this extracurricular creative thing on the side.

Reese Fuller:
Towards the end of undergrad, I was like, “Okay, I want to be in or around advertising in some capacity.” Maybe I’m a strategist, maybe I’m a copywriter. I’m not quite sure yet, but still really interested in why people think what they think and do what they do, like in groups.

Reese Fuller:
I found this really interesting grad program at NYU in social and consumer psychology, and that’s what brought me to New York. So, it was really research centric. We did psychology of branding, cognitive behavioral research, just very scientific. Through a lot of those classes my teachers would tell me, it seems like you really are most excited for the essays and those assignments versus the practice research.

Reese Fuller:
So, I did a couple internships, consulting and copywriting, just to start dabbling, I think, and trying to make it more professionally as a writer, so to speak. I interned at this digital first political strategy consultancy as a consultant one summer, and then the following summer switched gears to this full service creative digital agency as a copywriter. That was when things started to pick up.

Reese Fuller:
I was working on campaigns, digital campaigns and commercials. We’re doing a lot of scripts. It was just fun. I remember we did an ad for a quick service food chain where I, I don’t know, for whatever reason got super inspired and wrote almost like a rap song for their summer promo. Basically, the lyrics were like how to sign up for this promo and get a whole bunch of free burritos. It was just kind of quirky and funny and cool. I had a really good time doing it, and that’s what kind of let me know, like, okay, this is what I want to be doing, writing with a group of creative people and trying to put a visual expression around it or with it.

Reese Fuller:
After that internship, I was able to find a job on WeWork’s brand team. I was the second copywriter they hired. That was a really great experience because WeWork was just an already rapidly growing company with a whole bunch of different kinds of creatives. There were architectural designers, interior designers, product designers, illustrators. Everybody just making stuff to make these spaces and make the spaces really engaging and fun and cool to be in, so I just ran with that for a while. But then, there’s pretty big org shifts at the company and I started to feel I don’t really fit in as much as I would have liked to and wasn’t really getting as fulfilled by the work as I would have liked.

Reese Fuller:
I found an article online about this burgeoning discipline called verbal design at an agency called RGA and send a cold note to the head of verbal design there. We got to talk and I was really interested in this more strategic high-level approach to writing where, instead of writing the tagline or the script for the commercial, it’s we’re going to name the brand. We’re going to think very strategically about what this new sub brand or new product should be called and why, and build a visual brand around that. Or, we’re going to put together 50 pages of voice and tone guidelines with a really clear articulation of what you should always be trying to do when you’re writing for this brand, how to do that. Some voice principles, things you can incorporate into your writing to live up to that. I was just really interested in that approach to writing, that kind of writing. Yeah.

Reese Fuller:
And then, after that, I want to start working on more digital things. I want to start making websites and apps and chat bots. That’s what brought me to Work & Co. It feels like it’s been kind of a windy road and lots of different kinds of writing along the way, but I do, in some way, use all of my past experiences in the work that I do now, so it feels all worth it.

Maurice Cherry:
Wow. I mean, when you summed it all up, we can wrap this interview up. No, I’m kidding.

Reese Fuller:
All right, see you later. This has been great.

Maurice Cherry:
Let’s go back because you covered a lot of ground there. We’re going to go back a little bit here.

Reese Fuller:
Sure.

Maurice Cherry:
It sounds like college was kind of where you first got the sense that you sort of wanted to be a writer for a living. It was interesting how you mentioned that you first were on the STEM track and then you got introduced to this writing teacher, and that showed you how writing can be very structural and that sort of way.

Maurice Cherry:
It’s very interesting because I also was on the … Well, I mean I was on the STEM track. My degree is in math but I’ve been writing, oh my god, since a little kid, maybe since four or five, all the way up to now at my big age. I wrote all through middle school, all through high school, all through college, et cetera and people always thought it was weird. It’s like, “Well, how was it that you’re studying math but then you’re also a writer. How does that make any sense?”

Maurice Cherry:
What I would tell people is that structuring a mathematical proof is very similar to structuring an essay. It’s also very similar to structuring a proposal for design services or web services. The certain aspects might be called different things, like what may be called, I don’t know, the brief inside of a proposal is the same thing as kind of setting up all of your assumptions and corollaries and such for a proof. It’s very much kind of the same thing.

Maurice Cherry:
It’s interesting that you really sort of picked up on that structural building of writing. Because I think, probably when most folks think of writing, they think Shakespeare or, you know. They think flower prose or creative writing. I think even that has some elements of structure into it, but it sounds like you were able to really make that distinction between the structure of making something sound good and how that is very similar to a, I don’t know, maybe like an algorithm or something to that effect.

Maurice Cherry:
I also interned in NASA. Not in high school like you-

Reese Fuller:
Okay.

Maurice Cherry:
… genius. I interned in college. I worked at Ames Research Center for a summer, and I worked at-

Reese Fuller:
Oh, wow.

Maurice Cherry:
… Marshall Space Flight Center down in Huntsville.

Reese Fuller:
Oh, wow. I feel like the more we talk, the more we realize we have so much in common.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah.

Reese Fuller:
That’s so funny. No, yeah, totally. I just felt like there was this lightbulb moment where I hadn’t been thinking of writing at all a structured kind of expression. I think that I’m hooked on phonics. You know, like in elementary school or pre K even, I don’t remember how old I was, just learn how to read and write. The basics, the grammar of it all. But even with those simple nuts and bolts, I hadn’t taken the next step of thinking about how to write at length with form and structure and some sort of, I don’t know, cohesive, sort of bodily shape to it or behind it even.

Reese Fuller:
So, yeah, when I realized that most, if not all, good pieces of writing follow similar tropes and patterns given that genre, whether it’s a novel or the different kinds of expressions of poems or even the product work that I do now, it’s like there are best practices, I would say, to use, I guess, a little bit of professional jargon. There are approaches that work. So, yeah, that was just a really big light bulb moment for me. And now, I’m just so interested in learning more of them and using them to make good work with writing.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. Now you mentioned also you interned at these agencies. You interned at, I think the first agency you’re referring to was [inaudible 00:35:48] and then after that you were at KARATs, I believe?

Reese Fuller:
Yeah, yeah, KARAT Creative.

Maurice Cherry:
At KARAT Creative, but you also had the shift from working in these agencies to working in house, particularly once you worked at WeWork. And I would probably say, “Well, I don’t know, I guess working at Work & Co. was kind of …” Do you consider that more agency or more in-house?

Reese Fuller:
I think, I mean, we are a product design and development agency, so I think of it as an agency although it’s very different than, at least, my other agency experiences-

Maurice Cherry:
Okay.

Reese Fuller:
… have been.

Maurice Cherry:
Is there a big difference for you being a writer in an agency environment versus in an in-house environment?

Reese Fuller:
From my experience, yes. The biggest has been in an agency setting, being able, and encouraged to touch a much wider variety of types of businesses, types of projects. I just feel like, especially at this stage in my career, I just want to soak up as much information and experience as possible, and that’s why I feel more interested in working at an agency right now.

Reese Fuller:
I’ve worked on projects in industries like genomics or healthcare or retail or the nonprofit space. There’s such an array of exciting opportunities when you’re working at an agency. Versus when you’re in-house, you’re really dedicated to that one brand, that one set of products, that one mission. I mean, you really get to focus in, in a very specific way especially as a writer. Very deeply understand and appreciate the voice and tone behind the brand of the company that you’re working with and also mold it and shape and evolve it in a unique way too.

Reese Fuller:
But I think the biggest distinction, at least that I’ve experienced, has been choosing between breadth and depth. In my time at WeWork, I think I was there for almost two years, like I mentioned, the org shifted. The focus of the brand shifted more from small businesses and entrepreneurs to midsize businesses, and enterprise clients even.

Reese Fuller:
That was a big shift, I think, in the kinds of work that we were doing, the ways that we were articulating ourselves and the marketing materials and advertising and even the core product, the website and the coworking spaces themselves. To watch that happen from within was a really unique experience, but I also just wanted to change it up a little bit too, and I think you get that change of pace, which is great, at an agency.

Maurice Cherry:
Now, with Revision Path being the show that it is and the environment, we talk to black designers and developers and creatives and such. And so, I may never implicitly ask them what’s it like being a black blank or something like that in terms of what they do, but I’m curious for you since you are the first writer on the show. Being black in the industry, what have your experiences been like as you’ve furthered on in your career?

Reese Fuller:
I do feel blessed and highly favored. I think I’m very lucky to have a lot of positive experiences, but it certainly hasn’t been wholly positive either. I think part of what I’ve felt in various roles and moments throughout my career is this, like, Reese is here to make the word sound cool, like give it a little bit of flavor. Almost as kind of like the energy I’ve gotten in some context. Sometimes, and this is just me sort of trying to be honest about my own perceptions of those moments, sometimes that, I think, might be me interpreting that coming from people or just generally what they’re giving me, or sometimes even what the project needs. So, I think there’s that layer of like, “Are you just asking me to do this because I’m a black writer or is this really what needs to happen?”

Maurice Cherry:
Do people come to you expecting you to slang something up a bit or like, you know-

Reese Fuller:
Yeah, yeah.

Maurice Cherry:
… “Can you blacken this up a little bit?” Something like that?

Reese Fuller:
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. People might say, “Oh, I don’t have the cultural permission to do this, so can you do this for me?”

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. [inaudible 00:40:08] on it.

Reese Fuller:
Right. Exactly, [inaudible 00:40:10]. That has been something I felt at moments throughout my career. But I also think too, though, even other more senior black writers or other black professionals even in the design industry I’ve seen who, I think in some instances, very clearly have demonstrated a level of performance and excellence that is ridiculous. It’s like they’re just so good at what they do, they’re sort of being passed over for promotions or raises or even more junior people are making more money than them sometimes.

Reese Fuller:
I do think that there is a sort of, maybe not an under appreciation of black talent everywhere, but it’s definitely an issue that I’ve felt and also talked, I think, very freely and openly frequently about with some of my friends who also work in the industry. But even with that in mind, I think, especially after last year, it feels almost to be like a turning point or a reckoning moment where the powers that be are at least more aware of, if not eager, to create a healthier culture and dynamic for all kinds of black professionals. That is something I’m really excited for and glad to be living through, anyway.

Maurice Cherry:
Okay. Now, say we’ve got someone that’s listening to this and they want to follow what you do or they want to maybe become a writer in the design industry. Now, this might be a lofty question but I’m curious, what advice would you tell them? Are there any particular resources or anything they should check out? Anything like that?

Reese Fuller:
Yeah. I mean, I’d say, I guess sort of related to some of the points we chatted about earlier. Like, there’s so many different kinds of writing and ways to be a writer in design and technology and make a living. I know people who just do naming, I know people who are really interested and focused on brand copywriting. They just want to do voice and tone guidelines or just want to do commercials, or just want to work in product. There are so many ways that writing becomes a part of the creative or design process.

Reese Fuller:
So, I think having as clear a vision of what sort of subdivision of writing you’re most interested in and building a portfolio around that or making connections with people who do that kind of work, seeing the kinds of projects that they work on and are excited by so you just get a better sense of what really jazz you up. Because I think that’s really like, the secret sauce is to, as often as possible, just do the things that get you the most excited even if that changes from month to month, quarter to quarter, year to year. Just follow.

Reese Fuller:
It’s going to be cliché, follow your passions. But I think that ultimately is what encourages anyone to show up more fully to a professional conversation. So, yeah, just figuring out what that looks like for you I think is the best advice I could give. Yeah.

Maurice Cherry:
You said there are some people that just do naming and these are design writers, or there are some people that just do voice and tone work as it relates to style guides and thing like that. Okay, I’m curious for myself. I just wanted to know how do those work? I mean, I feel like that’s such a specific … I almost feel like that’s hyper specific to be a writer and only be able to focus on those small things like voice and tone or naming as opposed to what you have been doing with microcopy and things of that nature.

Reese Fuller:
I think when you’re that specialized, especially if you’re freelancing, you can command a little bit more compensation for the value that you would bring. There are examples, great examples of voice and tone guidelines. I think Adobe has a great one online I think MailChimp has online as well. There are examples online of great pieces of work like that, articles.

Reese Fuller:
There’s a brand blog. I think it’s like how to build a brand that has a series of great articles about different kinds of names, different approaches to naming, just like having your toolkit and your arsenal. But, yeah, there are ways to figure it out in a way. It doesn’t necessarily work or look the same for everybody, but just trying it out and figuring out what your own process could look like and how you might approach making something like that, if you’re interested in it, is an interesting way to go about it too. Because I think in a lot of those moments you get to make the rules, really.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah.

Reese Fuller:
It’s like you get to brief yourself sometimes because a team typically who would be asking for help with naming might not know how that process really works. So, you get to leave the conversation. Although they’ll obviously be giving you feedback, you can sort of steer them in the way that you want to go.

Maurice Cherry:
That’s interesting.

Reese Fuller:
Yeah.

Maurice Cherry:
Okay. You and I are going to talk more about that after this interview because that really-

Reese Fuller:
All right.

Maurice Cherry:
… that extremely piqued my interest right now, so we may have to go more into that. Given where you are in your career, who were some of the mentors and people that have really helped you out along the way?

Reese Fuller:
You know, I think of all my old managers, really. When I was at WeWork [inaudible 00:45:40] I was the second copywriter that was hired to the brand team, but the first had come from Etsy prior.

Reese Fuller:
She kind of took me under her wing, showed me so much about product writing in that moment too because we’re building new micro sites and web activations for the company at the time. But I think really just taught me not only how to show up as a writer and collaborate with different kinds of designers, but how to navigate a company of that size, like a professional setting in a way that was really authentic and special. So, I appreciate that.

Reese Fuller:
Yeah, even moving on throughout my career. A number of great thoughtful managers and team leaders even, that I think overall did a great job of being themselves in a way and having their own creative process. Inviting people to become a part of that and sharing what they knew to work for getting work approved or producing good work, like different prompts or writing techniques to generate ideas even. All of those experiences have just been helpful for me in some capacity throughout my career.

Reese Fuller:
So, yeah, literally everybody. Literally everybody. And, again, I say blessed and highly favored, because literally everybody I’ve worked with has helped me in some way. It’s just been so great to have that experience.

Maurice Cherry:
Is this where you saw your career going when you first started out as a writer? Or rather, when you first got into writing, this teacher introduced you to the mechanics of it, is this where you thought your career would end up?

Reese Fuller:
Not at all. I’ve veered off course. I’m somewhere in the middle of the woods and just eaten berries, I guess. I don’t know. Weird analogy.

Reese Fuller:
But, no. When I first had that teacher in high school who broke down how to write a good essay for me, I was like, “I’m going to go to New York and be a music journalist. I’m going to be on the tour bus with backstage writing down all these really hot takes and his experiences into a really interesting story for The FADER or SPIN Magazine.” That was the kind of approach that I had.

Reese Fuller:
But the more, I think, different kinds of writing that I started reading and the more that I started to see writing appear in advertising, or at least think more deeply about the writing that appears in advertising and marketing and on the apps that I was using, in the websites I was reading, I was like, “Oh, writing words are everywhere,” so I have so much jurisdiction. It’s such a wider playground, a magazine or a book.

Reese Fuller:
That was the turning point for me where I was just like, “Okay, if I’m interested in this medium and there are words there, let’s try and figure out how to be a part of that.” That was the journey for me.

Maurice Cherry:
Is there any advice about writing or about your career that is really stuck with you over the years?

Reese Fuller:
Yeah. Read your work out loud is a big one, I think. It’s a lot easier for things to sound good in your head or look good on paper, but when you read it aloud in your voice, you might hear things that you wouldn’t otherwise.

Reese Fuller:
I think another one is to not be precious or not be a perfectionist. Again, writing is such a democratic, even, type of expression that I feel like when you’re a designer, you’re trying to solve a problem, produce the “right answer.” But a lot of times there is way more than one right answer, so be really open to other ideas and suggestions from the people that you’re collaborating with. Just don’t be precious about your work and your words because it could be better and it could be different. A lot of the time it’s better, even in a collaborative setting, to invite people into that process and let their voices be heard in a medium that they’re trying to express themselves in writing as well.

Reese Fuller:
So, yeah, don’t be precious and read your work. Yeah, I think those are the top two pieces of advice I would give.

Maurice Cherry:
Is there anything that you’d like to do in your career yet that you haven’t done?

Reese Fuller:
I have been thinking a lot more recently about submitting more creative writing to periodicals, lit mags, journals. I think that’s something I’ve kind of gotten away from. When I was in undergrad I was writing for this online magazine. I’m the fiction editor of the lit mag at school, so a lot of the writing that I do now is more solution oriented, just like making a project or product as whatever it needs to be as it can be. But I do want to get more into, or more back into, I should say to just more creative writing.

Maurice Cherry:
Man, we just had a design anthology called Recognize that we started back in 2019, where basically I would give a theme and then people can write essays, basically design essays or design-focused essays around that particular theme.

Maurice Cherry:
For example, this year’s theme was reboot. People would write essays to that, 3000 words or less. We publish them, we pay them. We stopped doing it this year because, honestly, there was a woeful lack of interest among designers.

Reese Fuller:
That’s the stick [inaudible 00:51:18], I feel like. At least my experience has been, and I think it’s why I’m trying to get the pendulum to swing back the other way is thinking of writing so much so as like a tool to solve a problem. It’s kind of hard to switch gears back into I’m just going to write more creatively, write in response to this prompt, write to express an idea that I just had. So yeah, I feel that pain. But, yeah, it’s a muscle that I haven’t used in a while and want to use more of. I would imagine, a lot of other design writers might feel the same too.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. I mean, we did it for three years. We had … And honestly, the pandemic also kind of killed it. I don’t want to make it seem like it was totally just lack of interest from people. But once the pandemic happened, people were really more focused on surviving, which is fair. Like, please try to live. Don’t worry about trying to get 3,000 words [inaudible 00:52:13]. Don’t worry about that.

Maurice Cherry:
I would say even to this end, probably because things are still … I don’t know, information is still changing every day around this, it’s just not something that folks are super interested in.

Maurice Cherry:
I initially wanted to do the anthology because back in 2018, I had won the Steven Heller Prize for Cultural Commentary from AIGA. It’s usually awarded to writers, and I received it as a podcaster. But it got me to thinking about just the power of writing as a designer because it’s something that I’ve always kind of proselytized to designers for years. I’m like, it makes your proposals better, it makes your case studies better, et cetera.

Maurice Cherry:
But the more that I started doing this podcast, and especially once I started really getting recognized for it, which is why we call the anthology Recognize, is that black designers writing ensures that we are in the design history too.

Maurice Cherry:
It’s very easy to go into a bookstore, to go on Amazon or something and you can go to the design section. There’s a lot of design books and very few are by people of color, let alone black people. It’s not to say that the writing that black designer should do should always be in a novel or in book form, but it could be writing on medium, it could be something where people can see your thoughts long form and get a sense of how you think and what’s your process is and things like that.

Maurice Cherry:
I want to see that because we’re the next generation, I feel, of design writers out there, and we need to cultivate that. There needs to be a way to let people know that, hey, the only writing you do doesn’t have to be an email. You can also write about a project, or a thought process or things like that. I’ve been fortunate to have a few designers on here who are pretty good writers. I don’t know if they would really consider continually doing the writing, but …

Maurice Cherry:
Most recently I had Jeffrey Henderson on, who is a footwear designer in New York, and he owns an agency called AndThem. He’s been writing on medium probably for a few years now. Just such great writing. I would read an entire book of Jeffrey’s writing because it’s about projects, it’s about his thought process. He weaves his own personal story into coming from Cleveland and everything. It’s just so good, and it’s not writing that you see from black designers, but it is ostensibly design writing.

Reese Fuller:
Yeah. I mean, that’s so important. I mean, like I said earlier, so much of great work comes from passion and so much of writing becomes better when it’s grounded in intention.

Reese Fuller:
Those things overlap, right? It’s like if you have an idea that you just feel so jazzed up about, getting that out through writing is what, in my opinion, produces better writing.

Reese Fuller:
I mean, to your credit with having that won award, for me to think about writing as it extends from a novel or a poem to the writing in an ad or in a product even. I think of even podcasting as an auditory, a verbal expression, a kind of writing too. So, I don’t think that that’s too far off base. Maybe a departure from the people who’ve won the award previously, but it’s definitely all connected. It’s like that kiki and that bouba, to go back to what it’s like. These kinds of expression are all intertwined at the end of the day. So, yeah.

Maurice Cherry:
Where do you see yourself in the next five years? What do you want your legacy to be?

Reese Fuller:
Oh, wow. Hopefully, I think … I’ll have to say, doing what I’m doing now but on a bigger level, continuing to work on projects that I’m passionate about.

Reese Fuller:
I think one of the things I’ve been able to do more recently through Work & Co. actually is begin to work with a number of clients who are in the nonprofit space. We have the Work & Co. Fund, which is this allotment of a million dollars’ worth of work essentially invested in nonprofits that advance the Black community. It’s really the agency working to leverage this ability, that the agency has to build and design and develop and ship these digital products to enact positive social change.

Reese Fuller:
Those are the projects that I’ve worked on more recently that feel the most fulfilling and rewarding to me. I’m trying to think more about how I can do more stuff like that not only through Work & Co. but extracurricularly as well. I think in five years, hopefully, I’ll have more of my day-to-day time devoted to projects that fall in line with that.

Maurice Cherry:
Just to wrap things up here, where can our audience find out more about you and about your work online?

Reese Fuller:
I’m on LinkedIn. Just Reese Fuller. It’s Reese, like the peanut butter filled chocolate cups; Fuller, F-U-L-L-E-R. I’m also on Instagram, which is @reesefuller with an underscore at the end, but I don’t really post all that much there. But, yeah, I try to keep a pretty quaint, minimal digital presence, but I am very responsive. If you shoot me a message on LinkedIn or Instagram, I’ll definitely hit you back.

Maurice Cherry:
A writer that’s not on Twitter? Wow.

Reese Fuller:
Yeah. I have Twitter back in the day. We could talk about Twitter. I had a Twitter back in the day. I still will lurk on Twitter every so often. I still get my [inaudible 00:58:01] my info but, yeah, just trying to be a little bit more intentional and conscious, minimalize the web presence a little bit. I think only so much output to give and trying to focus it in different places.

Maurice Cherry:
That’s a good strategy to have, yeah. Wow, Reese Fuller, thank you so much for coming on the show, for being Revision Path’s first writer on the show.

Maurice Cherry:
I think a lot of what you said about your process and how you work on projects at Work & Co. I think is super important for designers and even developers and other creatives that are listening to hear, to kind of get a sense of what it’s like to be on … I almost want to say, the other side of the process. You know, there’s left brain, right brain, and writing seems to be different from maybe more visual type of work.

Maurice Cherry:
I think it’s also good to note that it’s clear that you’ve put a lot of thought into the work that you’re doing. I really get the sense you have a strong work ethic, and even just a strong ethical core as it relates to the type of work that you do. I’m glad that you’re able to just share that with us so other people who may be interested in becoming writers can do that as well. So, thank you for coming on the show. I appreciate it.

Reese Fuller:
No, thank you for having me, Maurice. You know, I’ve listened to this podcast for so long when I was getting ready and interested in getting into the industry. I listen to you and your guests chat about their experience. It taught me so much as well. So, yeah, it feels amazing to have that all come full circle and hopefully give some of that back to folks today. So, yeah, thank you for having me on. It’s really been an honor, and I’ve enjoyed it.

Sponsored by Adobe MAX

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Support for Revision Path comes from Adobe MAX.

Adobe MAX is the annual global creativity conference and it’s going online this year — October 26th through the 28th. This is sure to be a creative experience like no other. Plus, it’s all free. Yep – 100% free!

With over 25 hours of keynotes, luminary speakers, breakout sessions, workshops, musical performances and even a few celebrity appearances, it’s going to be one-stop shopping for your inspiration, goals and creative tune-ups.

Did I mention it’s free?

Explore over 300 sessions across 11 tracks, hear from amazing speakers and learn new creative skills… all totally free and online this October.

To register, head to max.adobe.com.

Sponsored by Brevity & Wit

Brevity & Wit

Brevity & Wit is a strategy and design firm committed to designing a more inclusive and equitable world.

We accomplish this through graphic design, presentations and workshops around I-D-E-A: inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility.

If you’re curious to learn how to combine a passion for I-D-E-A with design, check us out at brevityandwit.com.

Brevity & Wit — creative excellence without the grind.

When I first heard about Jerome Harris’ exhibit “As, Not For: Dethroning Our Absolutes,” I knew I had to interview him for the podcast. I was thrilled to hear him speak at this year’s Black in Design Conference back in October, and this conversation follows directly after that event.

Jerome does it all — he’s a graphic designer, an educator, a writer, a curator, a DJ, and even a choreographer! We touched on all those aspects in this interview, starting off with talking about his current work at Housing Works. From there, we discussed the trajectory of Black graphic design, and how that guided him through his studies at Temple and Yale and inspired his exhibit. Jerome also shares some of his current influences, and we step into the future a bit and look at what Jerome would want to work on in 2025.

Keep an eye out for Jerome — his perspective and candor are a refreshing antidote to current design discourse, and I think we’ll see a lot more from him soon!

Full Transcript

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

Jerome Harris: Okay. My name is Jerome Harris. I’m originally from New Haven, Connecticut. Studied advertising at Temple University and I got my MFA from Yale University in graphic design. For the last I’ve been working at MICA, Maryland Institute College of Art as a teaching fellow. So it’s full time faculty with one course taken off of the course load for research purposes. Now I’m the design director of Housing Works in New York City and I’m also a choreographer sometimes. I also DJ sometimes and I like to cook. Oh yeah. And I’m a big gamer.

Maurice Cherry: Sounds like you’re juggling a lot over there.

Jerome Harris: I mean some things take more priorities than others.

Maurice Cherry: Let’s talk about what you’re doing over at at Housing Works as the design director. What is Housing Works first of all? Then walk me through what you do there. What’s a regular day like there?

Jerome Harris: Cool. So Housing Works was originally the housing arm of the ACT UP activists collective from the late ’80s, early ’90s who were advocating for the rights of people with HIV and AIDS during the AIDS epidemic. So Housing Works was just the group of people who were trying to get people with HIV AIDS into homes so that they could … Because they believed that if they had a place to stay they would get better faster as opposed to being on the street or what have you. So that group of people from from this activist group grew into this huge NIO nonprofit organization. We have four health clinics around the city of New York, and then we’re self-sustained by 12, now 13 thrift stores. 14 actually, we just opened a new one. 14 thrift stores around the city. And then we have a bookstore cafe. And in addition to that, we do a four to five huge fundraising campaigns every year.

Jerome Harris: We moved beyond the scope of just HIV AIDS. We help homeless people, people who need to reintegrate into society after they get released from jail, drug rehabilitation, youth services for LGBTQ youth and of course housing, Housing Works. We have, I think, 600 plus units. That might be incorrect, but we have a housing around the city taking care of people with different illnesses, getting them care.

Maurice Cherry: Wow, that sounds like a lot of stuff that you all are doing there. It sounds really impactful.

Jerome Harris: Yep. So a lot of work. It’s all hands on deck. We have a huge team. We have two administrative offices, one in Soho in New York and one downtown Brooklyn where where I work and everybody’s there. Everyone’s down to do the work. It’s a very cool work environment. I mean given the population we work with you have to be empathetic and down for the cause. It’s funny cause a part of the job is were required to take part in civil disobedience as a part of the job. I feel like in your performance review they asked how many protests have you been to this year?

Maurice Cherry: Interesting.

Jerome Harris: Which is cool. I’ve only been to one so far.

Maurice Cherry: You’re slacking. You’ve got to go to more.

Jerome Harris: It’s awesome.

Maurice Cherry: Get out on them streets.

Jerome Harris: It’s only been three months.

Maurice Cherry: Okay. Okay. Okay. All right.

Jerome Harris: However, yeah, I like that. It’s awesome. It’s just the values and everybody there, we’re all working on the same team. No egos. Everybody is just getting work done.

Maurice Cherry: That’s good.

Jerome Harris: And okay, so you also asked about a day at work. Now designing is, I’m literally like three designers right now. We’re also hiring, so when this airs, if we haven’t hired anybody, we’re looking for a designer. I do a variety of things. I work for the thrift shops in the bookstore, so I do all of the marketing for that. So that can be just weekly events, sales signage, in store signage for the store. We do cut vinyl posters. I do motion as for social media, this is across the board, everything for the thrift shops. Same thing with the bookstore, just any of their needs.

Jerome Harris: And then on the other end, I do designs for fundraising campaigns. So that usually means building out an identity in the system for the designer that we’re going to hire and then our production designer to then build our assets for print, for screen, for social media and everything else in between. Like we just had a protest on October 8th in Washington DC for LGBTQ rights in the workplace. So I got to make protest signs and so usually protest signs are these scrappy things that people make them their own, but it’s nicely designed protest signs. It’s really nice to see. A whole coach bus of Housing Works employees went down to the Hill and protested and it’s just awesome. You know? It’s just a cool thing to feel that you’re a part of that, you know what I mean?

Maurice Cherry: Yeah. How did you first hear about them?

Jerome Harris: Well, I knew about the thrift stores. When I tell people about Housing Works, they’re usually like, “Oh yeah, I go to the thrift store.” I did know the history, which I liked, but I was contacted by the creative director because they had kind of contracting designers and hadn’t had anybody, a design director full time on the team for awhile. So she reached out to me because of my work, the exhibition, As, Not For, and thought that that would be a good fit for the workplace. And this was like back in January and I was like, I don’t know. I might stay at MICA. I don’t know. Academia was proving, after my second year there, was proving to be a little draining for reasons I don’t know if I want to talk about. I just wanted to move into something that was still fulfilling personally, but I still wanted to give back and I wanted the work to be fulfilling. So I talked to the creative directors. Said I’ll give it a shot. And I interviewed, went through a second round of interview, they gave me a design test and then they pulled me on in June.

Maurice Cherry: Okay. And so I know you’ve only been there, like you said, for just a few months now. What do you want to accomplish going into 2020? What do you see Housing Works becoming in the next year?

Jerome Harris: There’s multiple goals because it’s such a scrappy … I keep using that word, but everything moves pretty fast and everybody has to be all hands on deck. So I’m trying to get them to a place, particularly the thrift stores for example, to be in a competitive advantage design-wise with the retailers in the areas of the city that they’re in. They’re placed directly next to places like H&M and J Crew and Uniqlo and stuff like this around the city. And these are stores with huge design teams and these corporations with beautiful design. And so I just try to, even though it’s just me and eventually one other person, just try to give them a visual competitive advantage. They already have a great perception amongst their regular shoppers, but just drawing in a new community through more contemporary design and more slick design that fits into the environment where they exist.

Jerome Harris: And then the other thing is the fundraising campaign in the past, usually because they happen so fast, it’s so much work to do. In the past I’ve just been not completely well thought through, just let’s just get it done. So then I’m trying to really bring in more of the advocate voice into it and then also bringing more contemporary design sensibilities into the work. A little more thoughtful design into the work too. And that way, in addition to convincing people to give us money, make people feel good through the design, gain a better perception from the audience and the donor through the work.

Maurice Cherry: Okay. Now, you mentioned a lot already about starting out a Temple, being at Yale, you mentioned your exhibit, all of which I want to go into of course, but I’m curious the story before all of that. So where did you grow up? I know you’re currently in Brooklyn right now, but where’d you grow up?

Jerome Harris: Yeah, I grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, actually. Literally, I lived the walking distance from Yale as a kid and that was a interesting place to be because I ended up being in a way a benefactor of Yale being really close as a kid. There was the African American Cultural Center on campus and they had free tutoring. So I think all through elementary school and middle school, so I think maybe starting in third grade through eighth grade, my parents couldn’t afford to send me to private school, but they did want me to have some help. Some advantage. They understood the public school system can be a hindrance in some ways, sometimes. And so my parents brought me to the African American Culture Center for free tutoring. I literally went there three days a week for that five years between third grade and eighth grade and just got tutored.

Jerome Harris: I mean it wasn’t I needed tutoring, but I think that they understood that we are in proximity to this place. Why not give our son the leg up, which shout out to my parents for that. And then how I got into design was in high school we had Photoshop in our computer lab and in 2001 … The first thing I designed, which is really funny, in 2001 Aaliyah died. That was in August and 9/11 happened. And so I was so moved.

Jerome Harris: I was like, what do I do? And I made an image. I probably wasn’t using Google. I was probably using like Alta Vista or something like that. I was searching for images of the twin towers and Aaliyah and I made this whole collage of all these pictures of Aaliyah and her choreographer Fatima Robinson and all these people. That was the first thing I ever made. And then after that, that sensibility to isolate figures, which I feel like I most likely got from Cash Money Records album artwork fed into an interest in college and undergraduate to design party flyers. Because after that I got better and better and was using illegal versions of the Adobe Creative Suite back in the day.

Maurice Cherry: I think a lot of us were back then, so.

Jerome Harris: Yeah. No shame. No shame about it.

Maurice Cherry: Nothin’.

Jerome Harris: It became a side hustle. I was a Photoshop guru at one point and I would just design these party flyers. But yeah, New Haven was a really interesting place to grow up because you have the whole disparity. You have the poorest of poor and the most rich and elite all in the same place in almost evenly spread in a way. You get these crossovers of these different moments and Yale students crossing over with locals. And that happens in any college town but in New Haven it’s a particularly special mix.

Maurice Cherry: So I went to Morehouse here in Atlanta and I remember the first year that I was there, this was ’99 and I mean I’m from the sticks. I’m from the country. So it was already a bit of a culture shock coming into a big city, but not a huge one. Morehouse is one of those schools that has people from all over the world, from all different socioeconomic backgrounds and everything. And I remember my roommate at the time, apparently his mom told him that he needed to dress down if he was going to go out into the neighborhood because Morehouse is literally in the hood. It’s in the middle of not the best neighborhood in the city. It’s not terrible, but it’s the hood essentially.

Maurice Cherry: I’m probably fucking that up. But anyway, I remember him saying his mom was like well they told me I need to dress down. Dress in less expensive clothing just to make sure when I go out that nobody’s going to rob me or anything. And I’m like that’s sounds dumb. But if you feel that’s what you have to do, go right ahead. So I know what that odd disparity looks like.

Jerome Harris: Yeah, exactly.

Maurice Cherry: Now, It’s interesting enough because that area around Morehouse has cleaned up a lot. Mainly because the school just bought the land and tore the buildings down and stuff. But yeah, I know what that can look like in an urban setting.

Jerome Harris: Yeah, both of those things are really interesting to think about because I’m being reductive when I’m saying this. I’m just going to let everybody know I’m being self aware about what I’m saying. But there are a spectrum of black people and that was also, besides it being pretty racially diverse and socioeconomically diverse. I would have a group of black friends and some of them would come from money, come from more money, and their parents would be a little more like respectable. So they wouldn’t use the N-word and dressed a certain way. Some of my friends would not be allowed to go to somewhere like the all ages parties I would go to in high school or middle school. I totally understand that, know who that mom is. The mom of your roommate. But yeah.

Maurice Cherry: So you were designing these flyers at Temple. What was your time like there when you were studying and everything?

Jerome Harris: Temple was interesting because I didn’t realize that I wanted to do graphic design. Even when I was making party flyers, I was like, oh, I’m a party flyer designer. You know what I mean? I didn’t realize completely what I was doing. So when it came time for me to choose a major, I was like, oh yeah, I’m going to major in advertising because I didn’t, you know what I mean? For me that was a logical choice. You’re asking a 19 or 20 year old what they want to do with the rest of their life. I was like, okay, I think I want to do this.

Jerome Harris: I think around my junior year or so I realized, oh, Temple has a whole art school. Tyler School of Art. Maybe I should try to go there instead. I got shut shut down because I wasn’t coming from a fine arts background. I didn’t know that ling so well. I emailed the chair photo images of my party flyers. I don’t remember her name, but she said, “This is not graphic design. You can’t take classes here.” I was like, whoa. Then I actually went through the advertising school. There’s all these roadblocks. The art school’s different than the main college. Dah, dah, dah.

Jerome Harris: I was a little bit disappointed. At that point I was self taught anyway, but I didn’t have any guidance. My parents didn’t know what graphic design was, you know what I mean? I didn’t have anybody to say, “This is what you’re doing.” I was just doing it. Temple was cool. I love Philadelphia. I would move back to Philly any day.

Maurice Cherry: So I’m curious about that, that remark, because I don’t know, for some reason that just rubbed me the wrong way about them telling you that those flyers that you were doing were not graphic design. As you look back at that time, do you agree with that sentiment or no?

Jerome Harris: I think, and this goes into my issue with the understanding that modernism is the whole graphic design. Because what I was doing was a trajectory and black graphic design of following in the footsteps of the artwork used for Master P and Cash Money Records and DJ Screw. Artwork made by Pen & Pixel in Houston where they would isolate the figures, have all these affects and blingy texts and stuff. This still is a legitimate method of approaching graphic design. So these are the things that I was sending, but good design is modernist, right? It’s on a grid, it’s aligned, it has good proximity and space and asymmetry and it’s minimalist. Good design only requires a little bit to design. You know what I mean? These principles by the champions of the Bauhaus and Swiss, you know?

Maurice Cherry: Yeah. Like Euro centric design principles basically.

Jerome Harris: Yeah. Became just the entirety of when you say graphic design, that’s what it is, right? Only. As a 20 year old, I was like, well I’m making money doing this. This is real. This is legit. But I didn’t know how to say that. My feelings weren’t really that hurt because I did see that what they were making in the graphic design program and I was like, oh this looks like what I see in Time magazine or what I was looking at the time. This is how the ads look. When I watch TV commercials, this is how things are designed.

Jerome Harris: It’s really interesting and in retrospect that person, and this is not uncommon, it’s just being a gatekeeper of what graphic design is and what it should be. And I think that’s a large part of what I’ve been writing about and lecturing about recently is about how just making people self aware that that’s not the only way to approach graphic design. There’s a bunch of ways to approach graphic design. It’s easy. Modernism gives an immediate legitimacy to any piece of work. If it looks like that, it’s immediately familiar to people and they’re like, this is good. And yeah. Anyway, I hope I answered your question.

Maurice Cherry: Yeah. So, after Temple you went back to your roots in a way. You went to graduate school in New Haven at Yale. What was the design program like there once you were actually in that institution instead of around it as you were before?

Jerome Harris: Yeah, it was interesting from a social standpoint. I was at school, I went to class, but I would go home and do my homework and then go to my parents’ house and have dinner. So it was a weird return back home because a lot of people who came to Yale were from other places as clearly as most people do in school. So their society was just their classmates. I was home. So I was like, “Well, I’ll see y’all later. I’m going to eat this fried chicken. I’ll see y’all later.”

Jerome Harris: And then from a academic point of view, it was literally like the clouds broke and the light shined through because I had never thought of approaching design from a research standpoint. I’ve never had to think about concepts any deeper than, okay, I’m designing for a gay party, so I’m going to put a dude half naked on the front. And it’s a beach party so I’m going to put palm trees. You know what I mean? I never thought any deeper than that. So it was like I had professors who were really pushing me to be more conceptual and really push it and get really weird and then say, okay, have I gone too far? Is this still accessible? So thinking about the range of visual references that you can make and thinking about who’s looking at it and who can access that.

Jerome Harris: And also methods of production. So like I had, for example, I had taught myself HTML and CSS prior to, but thinking about just not even using coding to make a website, but using coding just to make type a graphic form. You know what I mean? Just things like this that sound basic that you would learn in probably undergraduate art school were just new ideas to me and I was like, oh shoot, I like this. It was really fun for me and I had no understanding of how graphic design operated in the fine arts world. I used to go to museums and stuff and just look at this stuff but never thought about it in that way. So just learning the nuances and the subtle choices that designers make and the understanding of how to give people access people through images and texts was really interesting.

Jerome Harris: Also how to expand my thinking. How to broaden the way that I think about designers. That was more the takeaway from me being at Yale because I literally knew nothing that they had to offer. Whereas a lot of my classmates had an understanding of fine arts and graphic design and conceptual thinking and the heroes of graphic design. My heroes, I didn’t even know who they were actually. I was just reading Vibe magazine and Ebony magazine. Looking at music artwork for Hot 97, which is a hip hop station in New York. Hot 97 mixed tapes and Cash Money Records. All these things, that for me.

Jerome Harris: … cash, money, records, all these things. That for me it was graphic design in my black life as a youth.

Maurice Cherry: I would say it’s still very much is still graphic design. When we look back at it I think that’s the case. It’s interesting though that it sounds like Yale was the nexus point where you realized that, what I’m doing actually is valid and I can apply and explore different things through the work as opposed to like you said before, using the work on its face.

Jerome Harris: Yes, exactly.

Maurice Cherry: Let’s talk about your exhibition. It’s titled ‘As, Not For: Dethroning Our Absolutes.’ I heard about it last year. Someone sent me a link to it on AIGA’s Eye on Design. It was a whole article about it. Can you talk about the exhibit and where the notion came from to curate all this?

Jerome Harris: It’s really funny. When I was at MICA, we were required to do a research project and I had two topics that I wanted to do and I was actually leaning away from doing black design because I was a little bit exhausted with the notion of being a mascot for the race in a way in graphic design. I was like I don’t know if I want to do this.

Jerome Harris: And so my other topic, because I’m a gamer, I’m really interested in the maximal really saturated colors and compositions and if you look at a still of a video game and bring in that level of overwhelming-ness over into graphic design and communication standpoint. That was my initial idea and I was interested in fantasy worlds, but then I started going down both paths and researching both. I already had done a little research into Buddy Esquire. He designed hip hop party flyers during the rise of hip hop before it was even called hip hop. I think I just had the thought, “There has to be more people. They got to be out there.”

Jerome Harris: I felt like a detective because I started with nothing. I had him. I knew I had Cornell’s hip hop archive and I was like, how am I going to find anybody else? So I’m emailing people, asking people. I did an extensive search. I found out about Aaron Douglas who did illustrations during the Harlem Renaissance, but he wasn’t really a graphic designer. And I think I accidentally stumbled upon Emory Douglas, who was the Minister of Culture for the Black Panthers. And then Emmett McBain who had his own McBain Associates in Chicago. He had a black ad agency. I don’t know how I found him. And through him I found Leroy Winbush and Eugene Winslow all of which were black men who had advertising agencies in Chicago.

Jerome Harris: And then Archie Boston was out there. AIGA had written about him a bunch. So I kept stumbling upon people and I was feeling optimistic and at the end of that semester, that was my first year at MICA. We had to do a presentation of our research. And I did the presentation and my chair at the end of my presentation was like, “Why don’t you make this AN exhibition?” And I was like, “Okay, I will.” And I did.

Jerome Harris: And it’s a very graphic designerly exhibition. It’s 47 posters. It’s not like things. Of course a graphic designer would make an exhibition of posters and it went up. MICA asked, the communications office, was like, “Do you want to put together a press release?” And I was like, I don’t care. I was just trying to fulfill a requirement for my fellowship to be honest. I wasn’t thinking about it any deeper than that. And it really took off. People received it well. I think a lot of people were like, I did not know this was needed. And I was like, me neither. I didn’t know either. I just wanted to do this.

Jerome Harris: It was more of a selfish endeavor, more than an endeavor of trying to do some diversity inclusion initiative or something like this. It was just a black man searching for his history in graphic design. It’s really been received well. The show went to Virginia Commonwealth University. The students in a design research class are actually writing an addendum to Philip Meggs A History of Graphic Design, because he wrote that book while he was at VCU. So now they’re writing an addendum. I was told that they were going to do this through the class to include these designers and his history in that book, which I didn’t know that would happen.

Jerome Harris: And then the show is also at CCA, California College of Art in San Francisco. And the letter form archive is out there. And they found out about Sylvia Abernathy, who’s the only woman in my show, unfortunately, sorry. She had these beautiful record sleeves that she designed for Delmark Records for jazz music. They found out about her through me, actually acquired copies of the record sleeves for their archives, and then did an exhibition of design and music. So when I was out there I went to the exhibition and they had Joseph Albert, who was the first chair of Yale’s graphic design program. He had done some record sleeves for jazz music next to Sylvia Abernathy.

Jerome Harris: And that was one of those moments, I didn’t know that I wanted that. I didn’t know that I wanted to see this person who is highly celebrated next to this underdog on the same wall doing the same work for the same thing. Those moments are like these surprises that come up along the way. In addition to short conversations that I have with young designers who are like, “Thank you for doing this.” And I was like, “Well, it’s accidentally at the service of you, so you’re welcome. But you do something like this. You do it now. Continue the work.”

Maurice Cherry: I’ve seen some of the posters in the exhibit. It hasn’t made it to Atlanta yet, nor have I made it to where the exhibits are. But I’ve seen a couple of photos. I see that there’s album art from Def Jam, the record sleeves that you mentioned from Sylvia Abernathy, there’s movie posters from Art Sims who did a lot of work with Spike Lee. And I’m sure that like you said, you get a lot of questions about it. It’s getting a lot of feedback. Is there one question in particular that you hate answering about the exhibit?

Jerome Harris: I can’t necessarily put it into words, but I think that I always get caught up in some question about buzzwords like representation, diversity, inclusion. These catchall terms that when you see a person who’s not citizen white, they are fit into these groupings. At this point, me touring the show and doing workshops and stuff. Now I’m working at the service, but out of service of the field in a way trying to shake things up a little bit, because I see there’s the need. But initially, no, it was a selfish endeavor. I just wanted to know.

Jerome Harris: I needed to know and I needed to be able to defend my work and talk about my work, which came from a lineage of black designers and be able to defend that when people ask me about my work or why things look the way they do, et cetera. And so something about that feels a little reductive. Let’s just say, is this a diversity inclusion thing? Because what happens is if there’s something, dealing with the queer community, then you’re still put in a marginalized group. This is a queer thing. This is a black thing. It’s not, it’s a graphic design thing actually, and it’s been neglected. Just normalize it. Thanks.

Maurice Cherry: With revision path and I know that feeling that you’re talking about, because I started revision path honestly under part selfish part I guess petty I guess. And I’ve told this story on the show before, but I initially had the idea to do this way back in 2006. I had this event that I had created called the Black Web Blog Awards and one of the categories was for best blog design. And it’s interesting you mention vibe and album covers and stuff like that, because I knew who those designers were. I knew the people that were making those designs and they were not getting any level of recognition. I’m not talking about an interview here or there. Nobody knew who they were. Nobody was mentioning them. Nobody was talking about them. No one was asking them to speak anywhere or anything like that.

Maurice Cherry: And I wanted to do something around black design back then, but I was doing the Black Web Blog Awards, I was in grad school, and I was working a full time job. So I was like, I don’t have time to do all this. It wasn’t until seven years later after I had stopped working for corporate America, started my studio and was five years in on that. I was like, I have time to do this. So I really honestly did it as a selfish/petty thing, one to put my thumb in the eye of graphic design in terms of the graphic design community to be like we’re here, you just don’t see us for some reason. I don’t know. But then also to do it because I wanted to see more of us out there and I felt like, I don’t know who else is really doing this, at least on a level that is picking up any level of visibility.

Maurice Cherry: So I’m just going to try to add to it. I knew I wasn’t the first to do it, but I also hope that I’m not the last to do it too. So I get that feeling because what ends up happening is that as the project gains steam and gets out there in the community, it gets out there in the world really, other people start ascribing values to it that have nothing to do with why you started it. So like with revision path, people will say that it’s for people of color in the tech industry. It’s for black people. You can say black. You can say that. You don’t have to to codify it in that way. You can say it because that’s what it is. Or they’ll say, it’s only for African Americans looking to get into Silicon Valley.

Maurice Cherry: No, it’s not. I talk to people all over the world, not just in Silicon Valley, not just trying to get into tech. And I end up having to do a lot of clarification because people want to ascribe their own values to it because they see it, or at least they’re using it as a resource for diversity and inclusion. And that was never my initial goal for it. It was really just I want to see more of us out there and I want to celebrate what we’re doing and what we’re contributing. I’m not doing this as some sort of a way to highlight a deficit. I think AIGA already does a great job of that. This is no shade by saying that by the way, but they do the design census. They point it out every year so that’s a fact.

Jerome Harris: That was also problematic too, because people who are like me who are self-taught designers are not filling out that survey because they don’t know about it. They’re not a part of the AIGA. They’re making the things that they make. There’s a website called seven days, seven nights, which does nightlife in the New York City area and around the United States in general. But the pen and pixel aesthetic is still there. They’ve definitely pushed it forward. None of those designers are filling out that survey, because it’s Latino and black parties, I’m pretty sure it’s Latino and black people designing those things. So I feel like there’s still work to be done because there’s a whole batch of people who are making good money doing that kind of work and are not being included or their careers are not being acknowledged.

Maurice Cherry: And one interesting footnote on the whole pen and pixel style. I really love that style. For those that are maybe not familiar, go to Google images, look up Master P, Mia X, Silkk The Shocker, Juvenile. It’s the gilded cera font with the baguette diamonds for text kind of thing. And I think it was the art directors club or the type directors club or someone did a version of that for their young guns. I might be completely getting this wrong, but I remember the backlash from it from people saying, honestly it was mostly from black people saying, “I can’t believe that you would represent design in this way. It looks so ghetto. It looks so hood.” And I’m like, it looks like it’s design. Granted the way they did it, it did kind of make it look like the guy was a pimp inside of the art director club image with gold teeth and he had a forefinger ring. It wasn’t the best I guess presentation, but I got where the inspiration was coming from.

Jerome Harris: I’m not going to go too long on this, but the owner, Sean Burch, I don’t know how to say his name. He’s contacted me twice about including the work from pen and pixel in my exhibition. In fact, I can open the email right now. He made the point that, my studio was not a black studio. He basically didn’t want the public to think that pen and pixel was a black owned business. I can even read the email right now.

Maurice Cherry: This isn’t an expose is it?

Jerome Harris: No, it’s not an expose. I really don’t care because pen and pixel doesn’t exist anymore. It hasn’t existed for a really long time and it’s been featured. They’ve been getting a lot of press. People have featured them. But the work that gets featured has been, even in Sean Burch’s own words, was art directed by Master P, Baby Slim, DJ Screw. These people came in and said, “You know what I want? I want a Mercedes. I want a photo of me bent over the Mercedes. I want two lions on the side. I want diamonds in the text.” This is the work of an art director. For me and you pen and pixel is working more as a production designer because not all of their work looks like that. And I tried to explain that to him clearly. We had a long phone conversation and he pulled out the, “I have black friends.”

Maurice Cherry: Wow.

Jerome Harris: Anyway, he emailed me a picture of his employees with his one black designer on the team. I was like dude. I was like do you know this is racist? Do you know?

Maurice Cherry: Listen, I’ll add a little something to the anecdote, not necessarily pen and pixel related, and I’m not going to name names here, but there a certain show that comes on a certain streaming service that highlights designers. They just had a new season which came up recently. And the people who create that show for example had made sure to reach out to me and mention that they had two black designers this year. Am I supposed to be doing cartwheels in the street over that? Okay, fine, wonderful. Thanks, that’s great. Because the first season they only had one so progress.

Jerome Harris: I do have to say, I try to listen to other design podcasts but there’s such a ubiquity. I’ll listen to the person and look at the work and I’m like yo, you keep interviewing the same person over and over again. There might be a shift in medium, but the work all looks the same and it’s really boring. And that goes back to the stupid modernism thing. It’s like you got to love a little sans serif typeface. Y’all love their modernist principles. Just build another Bauhaus. I’m honestly sick of it. There’s so many other ways to do a piece of graphic design to approach in any medium. Anyway, that’s not your podcast.

Maurice Cherry: Present company excluded.

Jerome Harris: The people you interview are very diverse and it makes me very happy. I’ve been listening for years. Shout out to you, Maurice.

Maurice Cherry: Thank you. I’m curious, do you think that your exhibit would have gotten the same visibility if it weren’t at MICA? Let’s say if it was at the Lewis Museum? For people listening, the Reginald Lewis Museum, it’s a African American History and Culture museum. Do you think that this exhibit would have gotten the same level of reach to white design spaces?

Jerome Harris: I don’t know. I want to suspect. I think no. But what ended up happening and MICA, they asked me, they were like, “You want us to put out a press release?” I was like, “Yeah, let’s do it.” Because that’s the thing, once it started getting press, people were like, “Oh shit, there’s a black show. Let’s go see it.” And not just white people, but everybody was like, “We should go see this. This looks cool.” And so I don’t know if the Lewis Museum put out a press release if it would have been received the same way. I don’t know that. And also like I said, I didn’t expect anything for the show. Thought it was going to up for two weeks to a month and I was going to take the posters down and throw them away.

Jerome Harris: I can’t answer that question, but I suspect the perception of the institution did help. I suspect so. I don’t know though, because also the reception of the show was such that people did respond well regardless of what, so it might’ve. The show itself might have also drawn people to the Lewis Museum had it been there. Let me also say this though too. I have not shown at a black institution yet. I would like to. I’ve been trying to, so if you’re listening to this and you’re the HBCU or a white gallery or museum I would like to show my show there. Thanks. Bye.

Maurice Cherry: Bring it on down here to Atlanta. We got a few of them. We got Hammonds House. Actually Hammonds House is in my neighborhood. Hammonds House, Spelman has a art museum on campus. So just putting that out there. I’ve seen the exhibit also been referred to as incomplete. And one thing that you mentioned a little bit earlier in the interview is that there is only one woman in the exhibit, Sylvia Abernathy. Now that it’s on tour, are you planning on supplementing the exhibit with more designers as you discover more about them?

Jerome Harris: No, because I don’t have time, because I work full time and the exhibition. When I was teaching, I was teaching a two, three course load and that first semester when I was teaching two classes, that time off was the time I would use to research. I literally was taking a part-time job load, maybe 20 hours or so a week just dedicated to the show. And I just don’t have that time now. I know there’s more people. The curator of the Lubalin Center at Cooper Union put me on to an article in Idea Magazine, which is a Japanese design magazine from the ’70s and apparently somebody else did an exhibition of black designers in Japan and I looked at the spread. It’s in Japanese so I don’t know what it says, but there’s like 50 plus black designers that were featured, African Americans. And I was like, who are these people? I think the only one who I knew was Georg Olden and the rest of them I was like, I need to look these people up. In addition to Michelle Washington, she knows everybody. She also did a-

Jerome Harris: She knows everybody. She also did a show with Flo, I’m saying her name wrong.

Maurice Cherry: Fo Wilson.

Jerome Harris: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Fo. And back in the back, I need to see documentation of that, too. I didn’t know that until we ran into Fo at Black in Design. I was like, “Oh.” Michelle hadn’t mentioned it to me. Then I also met other black designers who had done their thesis. I met this guy, Steve, in San Francisco, who did his thesis at RISD back in the 90’s on black designers and the representation of black people in design. So, it’s been happening. It’s just hasn’t been a thing that has gotten traction.

Jerome Harris: I think maybe the advantage for me is that, my show is kind of a research guide in a way. When you go to the show, in the didactics, you can see what archive I got the work from, the name of the work, the name of the archive, the city that it’s in, it’s almost like encouraging everybody to go ahead and continue the work themselves. If you go to the archive and look at the work or if you go to a digital archive, you might respond to the work differently than I did. So, it’s like a traveling archive, as exhibition. I mean, that’s the only thing. I would like to celebrate these shows. I don’t know. So, I would like to include those more into my work as well, somehow. I just haven’t figured out how yet.

Maurice Cherry: So before you mentioned, Vibe magazine and other publications and things, that were influencing you when you were first starting out, who are some of your influences now with your work?

Jerome Harris: It was really funny because, I’ve actually been looking at fine artists more than graphic designers, in addition to video games and things that are not graphic design. Let me see if I can find… You know, like Lorna Simpson for example, her collage’s. Or thinking about how Lorna Simpson’s work and then thinking about how Carol Walker isolates the figure and about how I was doing that. In reference to pin and pixels work, finding those those formal connections and thinking about different ways of applying that formal gesture in different ways, if that makes sense. Aaron Douglas for example, in his work, he uses a hand drawn type face, which looks like an art deco typeface, but he does it the same way on all of his illustrations. So, looking at this artists painting type, in a way.

Jerome Harris: Who else? There’s a bunch of people that, fine arts, I look at. Laila Ali, definitely. Glenn Ligon was a huge inspiration on my poster because he has the, I am man, with the notations. I forgot what it’s called, The Inspection Report or something like, This Quality Inspection Report, something like this, where he was pointing out the flaws in the poster. And that led me to do the markings. That and also looking at BASCA and doing the markings on the poster that advertises the exhibition itself.

Maurice Cherry: Yeah. That’s a really dope poster, by the way.

Jerome Harris: Thank you. I appreciate that. And so, it’s this idea of searching, but also mark making. And me, I had a very, very messy notebook where I was making connections and I was like, “Oh shoot, all three of these guys are in Chicago.” Okay, sorry. That was a long ramble. But, yeah.

Maurice Cherry: No, no. As I was saying, I really liked that additional poster. It’s very rare… Actually, I wouldn’t even say it’s rare. I’ve never seen Jackie’s Back on a poster like that. When I saw it I was like, “Ooh. Are you serious?” I was like, “I got to interview this guy,” after I saw that.

Jerome Harris: There’s a couple-

Maurice Cherry: I don’t know if a lot of people that know about the classic, that is, Jackie’s Back. That movie is a classic.

Jerome Harris: Jackie’s Back is everything. [crosstalk 00:04:25].

Maurice Cherry: It’s all on YouTube, too. The whole thing is on YouTube.

Jerome Harris: Yeah, it’s on YouTube. Jennifer needs to get her money. So, anyway. For those streams. Yeah. I have, I mean whatever, this is going to be controversial. It’s kind of like, as, not for, and it’s kind of, moments in black pop culture that are as meaning, like just existing as your natural blackness or meaning, making yourself presentable or respectable or palatable to white people or something like this. So, in the top I have Spike Lee and then I have Tyler Perry crossed out, but that’s going to be a little controversial. Then I have Jackie’s Back, but then not Sparkle. Because Jackie’s Back was mocking a blaxploitation film, where Sparkle was a blaxploitation film. Then I have Richard Pryor, after he comes out behind The Wiz machine and then I have him crossed off as The Wiz machine. I guess all these little black pop culture gems that I put in there because people who get it, get it.

Maurice Cherry: Yeah, exactly. Right. Yeah. So outside of design, you mentioned you choreograph, you DJ? You’re DJ Glen Coco, is that correct?

Jerome Harris: Yes, yeah.

Maurice Cherry: What do you spin?

Jerome Harris: It’s a very specific reference. If you get it, you get it.

Maurice Cherry: Okay. Well, what do you spin?

Jerome Harris: Oh, mostly black ass music. I play cookout music. So, it’s Evelyn Champagne King, Love Come Down. Luther Vandross. There was this moment between disco and the 60’s and 70’s and then house music and the 90s, when black people were making this dance music, but it wasn’t a specific genre. It was just kind of like The Whispers. I don’t [crosstalk 00:52:23]-

Maurice Cherry: Oh, I love that genre.

Jerome Harris: I don’t know what that’s called. But, that’s what I play mostly and house music and disco and contemporary stuff that sounds like that. Yeah.

Maurice Cherry: I’ve heard the music called… So, I don’t know if you’ve heard of the Axle F Party. Have you heard of this?

Jerome Harris: No.

Maurice Cherry: Okay. So, Axle F Party is this party in DC where they play all this music. It’s from ’77 to ’87. It’s Jheri curl funk, champagne soul, laser boogie. Those are the terms that they call that genre of music. If you’re in DC, you got to check it out. Even looking at the flyers and everything, the flyers are very much in the style, I wouldn’t say in the pin and pixel style but, I think even if you look at the flyers, you’re like, Oh, you can tell that they are pulling this inspiration directly from that time period. That music that mixes R&B with synths and vocoders and other electronic things of the time. I mean, I love that genre of music. It’s so good.

Jerome Harris: Yeah. That whole moment for me is, I don’t know, it’s something about it. If I’m at the grocery store and I hear, Patrice Rushen’s, Forget Me Nots, I can’t stay still. I’m like, How do you listen to that and stand still? You just can’t. That whole moment is maybe, my favorite little moment in music history. It’s just, nobody ever decided to call it a thing. Which is okay, I think I’m okay with that.

Maurice Cherry: I call it the shoulder music. Sometimes, you got to just like-

Jerome Harris: Ooh, I like that.

Maurice Cherry: You got to hit it with the shoulder, sometimes.

Jerome Harris: Cookout music is the closest. When you say cookout music, black people are like, “Oh, yeah. I get it.”

Maurice Cherry: Yeah. You definitely got to have some Frankie Beverly and the Maze in there. Some Earth, Wind & Fire. So, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Do you have a dream project that you’d love to do one day? That maybe melds all of these things that you’re passionate about?

Jerome Harris: I have two and knowing me, I mean, if you’ve known me since I was a kid, I was always doing, at least, three or four things. In high school I ran track, I choreograph for the dance team, I used to sketch and I was also part of a youth organization called, City Kids. We used to do youth empowerment. I did a lot. So, this is just who I am.

Jerome Harris: But my two dream things, dream projects are, I want to start a dance company. I don’t want to dance, I want to start a dance company. And I want to represent African-American design, street dance, things like this, on a concert dance stage and tour. I think that would be awesome, just black dance all the time on stage and get paid for it.

Jerome Harris: The other thing is I would like to start a nonprofit research organization for marginalized American aesthetics and design methodologies, because outside of the neglected history of black design, I know everybody else has their own history, it’s also been kind of shunned as well, and something that’ll bring those to the forefront… In my head, it will help to transform the trajectory of design, moving forward and maybe, help diversify the way that things look. There was a article even on my Medium today, I get a Medium Digest every morning and it was, why do all websites look alike? I was like, exactly.

Maurice Cherry: Oh my God. I brought that up. Actually, I read that article. I brought it up in an interview I did recently about how all websites have the same hero image, three column whatever, parallax scrolling thing. Yeah, I saw that article.

Jerome Harris: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, it’s a thing. I feel like a lot of other people are sick of it, too. It’s a trickle down effect and I feel like it happens every couple of years. I feel like people in academia and culture write these essays and do exhibitions and talk about a thing enough, where people on the ground who are designing, all have this acknowledgement and say, “Oh, shit. Maybe we make a shift.” Then the shift happens. So, I feel that we’re in this moment now, and there’s a lot of folks in the design world, like Ramon Tejad at RISD and Silas Munro at… Have you interviewed Silas?

Maurice Cherry: Yeah, episode 85.

Jerome Harris: Oh, shoot. Okay. I have to go back. Silas at Otis. I feel everybody’s tired of… Ramon and Silas have a thing called, Throw The Bauhaus Under The Bus, which I love. Questioning the Bauhaus, not shitting on the Bauhaus. Because they did have a huge contribution to design, but just also questioning it. Then as far as queer representation goes, Nate Piper and Nicole Kilian. They’re thinking about publishing and black publishing is not [inaudible 00:12:06]. So, everybody’s doing really cool shit. I feel like something’s happening right now. I mean, even thinking about your podcast and being a part of that as well. Because you get the conversations, not the neatly tied up essays and lectures.

Maurice Cherry: Yeah. I try to add a lot of diversity into what could be seen as a monolithic set of people. I try to get not just the top designers, captains of industry in Silicon Valley, I talk to folks in New York. I just spoke to a young lady yesterday in Fayetteville, Arkansas, about the UX community there, which, they have a UX community in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in case people didn’t know about that. I talk to people in the Caribbean, throughout Europe, throughout Africa. I’ve interviewed two people in Australia. I would love to get a black Brazilian on the show. I would love to just know about what the design scene is in Brazil, since it’s the largest country, but just in general.

Maurice Cherry: So, I try to add a lot of nuance and diversity into that, because I think people can see black designer and think just one thing. Also sometimes, and this is, I’m not trying to take shots here, but sometimes, especially with black media, when the term black design gets thrown out, it often ends up only being kotumb to the realm of fashion. They’re not looking at the web or graphic design or arts, in that way. It’s like, Oh, black fashion designers. We’re like, “Well, what about the rest of us?” So, yeah. I get that.

Jerome Harris: Also the same thing with my exhibition, it’s the same sentiment. You can walk in and say this is black design, but then you have hip-hop party flyers and Black Panther, newspapers and Marlboro advertisements by having Emmett McBain and Cey Adams, The Violator, artwork from ’99 and Sun Ra, Sun Ra’s poems from his book, The Immeasurable Equation and Sylvia Abernathy’s jazz. It’s such a diverse group of work, that when you walk in, you’re saying these are black people, but there’s no monolith there. And each one has its own history. Sylvia Abernathy with the Black Arts Movement. Amiri Baraka and Cey Adam’s huge contribution to hip-hop and the Black Panthers influence. It’s so many moments in history through this [inaudible 01:00:51] that you can’t walk away from this collection of work thinking about black people in one way.

Maurice Cherry: Yeah. So speaking of black people, and I think also, just speaking of the future, we both were at a Black In Design. This year the theme was Black Futurism 2019, we are now at the end of the year, we’re at the end of a decade, we’re really going into the future. When you think of years that sit in pop culture as the future, there’s 1984, 1999, 2020 not just a news show, but you think of that as a future, ahead. When you look ahead, let’s say it’s 2025, what is Jerome working on?

Jerome Harris: That is a good question. I think that might be my planning phase for the next step. I would, right now, want to further build my portfolio in arts and culture and nonprofits and working with artists who speak up for marginalized communities. Louis Flemings project, like the queer in black communities and build up that set of work. And then with that sort of work, start doing my dream, one of my dream projects.

Jerome Harris: The research nonprofit, most definitely, is a huge… For me, it’s something important because I don’t know if anybody else is doing it. I have to do my research to see if it’s happening and if it’s not, then I definitely want to exploit that opportunity and really try to shift the dominance of the way things look right now. Like, all websites look alike. And if not that, if I get tired of design, I’m kind of tired of design, in a way. Because I feel like I’m fighting hard and I feel like I work really hard. I feel that all designers might feel this way. You do a lot of stuff, you’re staying in front of your computer for hours, you’re arguing with vendors and then you finally get a poster or a website or something. People look at it for two seconds and walk away, you’re like, “Okay.”

Maurice Cherry: Yeah. I mean, digital design can be very, well it is, very ephemeral in that way. We spend so much time on something which has such a very short half-life, once it’s out there in the world.

Jerome Harris: I feel design itself is not, for me, not very important. It’s a set of skills. It’s a set of tools to get to essentially, help people. Right? You make things for people. So the thing itself is not really that important. I think that the reasons and the implications and the intentions behind what you do, is the more important thing. I feel like a lot of people should stop designing because they’re just making bullshit and wasting time.

Maurice Cherry: That’s a bold statement.

Jerome Harris: I mean, for real. It’s a lot of stuff out there that doesn’t need to exist. Especially with the condition of the world right now. You’re privileged by default to sit in front of a computer and make images all day. So, why wouldn’t you use that position to do something?

Maurice Cherry: Yeah. Yeah. See, that’s really what I like about the… To bring up the Black In Design Conference again, what I really like is that these are people that have design skills, clearly. But they’re using them in ways that are affecting and impacting the community. I first went in 2015 and it was about how do we affect the physical space from the neighborhood, to the city, to the state, to the region. Then in 2017, it was around spaces for organizing and for protest. Now this year, it’s about really, black people in the future, black justice black, black-

Jerome Harris: Wakanda.

Maurice Cherry: Yeah. Wakanda, basically. Black utopia. How do we take these skills and use them to ensure that we are in the future. So, I totally agree with that. Yeah. Well, to wrap things up here, where can our audience find out more about you and about your work, online?

Jerome Harris: I pretty much have my CV on my… My website’s pretty much an interactive CV, at this point. My website is jwhgd.co and that’s also my Instagram. So, @jwhg.co and I also have an Instagram for my choreography that I do here and there. It’s @32counts. @32counts. The number’s 3-2, don’t type out thirty-two and that’s really it. If you want to give money to Housing Works, comes on to the fundraisers and yeah, that’s it. That’s really it.

Maurice Cherry: All right, sounds good. Well Jerome Harris, I want to thank you so much for coming on the show. I mean, one, I think for an enlightening conversation about the work that you’re doing or the work that you done through your exhibit, but also, to show that… It’s interesting how even with the advent of technology design, or at least entry into the design industry, still seems to be roped into these particular narratives around, you have to have went to these schools or done these things or all this sort of stuff. I’m a self taught designer, too. I didn’t go to design school, so to be able to use the talents that you have, to not only, one, make a living for yourself, but also, to showcase others that are doing this, to help change and rewrite the canon of design history. I mean certainly, I empathize with that, because it’s what I’m doing with Revision Path. So, I applaud anybody that’s also walking that same path and making sure that more of us are being celebrated. So, thank you so much for coming on the show. I appreciate it.

Jerome Harris: Thank you. This was awesome.

Facebook Design is a proud sponsor of Revision Path. The Facebook Design community is designing for human needs at unprecedented scale. Across Facebook’s family of apps and new product platforms, multi-disciplinary teams come together to create, build and shape communication experiences in service of the essential, universal human need for connection. To learn more, please visit facebook.design.

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Revision Path is a Glitch Media Network podcast, and is produced by Maurice Cherry and edited by Brittani Brown. 


If you have followed me and Revision Path since at least 2015, then you’ll hopefully recognize how powerfully significant this week’s guest is. Cheryl D. Miller holds many titles — visual artist, designer, author, writer, and theologian. Her trailblazing 1985 graduate thesis at Pratt Institute helped fuel the conversation about diversity in design for Black designers and designers of color — a conversation we’re still continuing over 30 years later.

Cheryl and I talk about her multicultural upbringing, her time as a student at MICA and Pratt, and she shared her memories of life as a designer in NYC during the 80s and 90s. We also spoke about the latest chapter of Cheryl’s design career — the acquisition of her personal work archive by Stanford University! Cheryl is living design history, and I’m so glad to be able to share her story here with you all!


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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 Glitch. Glitch is the friendly community where you can build the app of your dreams. Stuck on something? Get help! You got this!
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As a digital creator, you may not even think much about the concept of digital governance. Don’t worry though — this week’s guest, Lisa Welchman, literally wrote the book on digital governance!

Our conversation begins with an overview on the topic, and Lisa describes how she got involved with digital governance. We also get into digital ethics, talk about how companies can apply digital governance to what they do, and a lot more. Lisa also discusses her recent vacation, the things that keeps her inspired and opens up on what she wants to do in the near future. Thank goodness we’ve got experts like Lisa to help decipher concepts like this that are important to our digital lives!


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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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Revision Path is brought to you by MailChimp. Huge thanks to them for their support of the show! Visit them today and say thanks!
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Revision Path is also brought to you by SiteGround. Save 60% off all hosting plans by visiting siteground.com/revisionpath. Excellent!