Blacks Who Design. Where Are A The Rest?

The Black Experience in Graphic Design, 1968. The article for Print was perhaps the first in the mainstream trade press to directly address the impacts of racism in the profession and describe the experience of Black practitioners in their own words.
The Black Experience in Graphic Design, 1968

Did you know only 3% of the design industry are black? Yes, 3%! Caucasians make up 73% of the industry. There is a reason why things are the way they are. As a black designer, I have encountered barriers by being apart of the industry. I had to figure out how to exist in it as a Black woman who wants to be a graphic designer boss and who wants to be an artist. Black people, women, people from underrepresented cultures in these spaces — how can you gain more exposure? Especially, being who you are in a space that was not made for you, and was not built for you, and isn’t used to having you around.

In this field, it not just about a pretty logo. It’s about visual communication. Graphic design is about communication. To get more information to more people, we need more understanding. To get more understanding, we need communicators — the designers — to better represent the people they’re talking to.

In colleges, I was told if I could do what the industry standard was in design that I shouldn’t be a graphic designer. A professor told me this straight out in graduate school while I was learning the business side of design and branding. Aren’t you supposed to ask questions when you don’t u sweat and something? Aren’t professor there to guide you? I knew I wanted to be a designer but not by industry standards. I wanted to help people like me, those who are systematically told they couldn’t do it and those who work so hard just to be told “no” time and time again.

It’s sad to see how little progress Blacks have made in the graphic design field. In over 50 years the needle has barely moved. The makeup of our industry needs to better reflect the makeup of our country. We need to break the cycle and have a more diverse mix, better represented and better noticed as a whole.

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