Category Archives: Design Work

Showcasing design work that needs to be exposed.

The Bunny Is Finally Evolving

One of my first jobs in design was working at an adult publisher. To this day, it’s still the best job I had and not for all the crazy nonsense people assume about it. What made it so great was, it was the one place where I had complete creative freedom. The owner and editors had complete faith in what I could do for their pages. The titles I art directed had a mix of pictorials and editorial like travel stories, book reviews and news. They were Playboy-like. The work I did there enabled me to move on to companies like Essence, McGraw-Hill, CMP, Black Enterprise and Nielsen. Quite a few well-known art directors have also worked on adult titles during their careers. Playboy is the granddaddy of them all and for several years, it was showing its age. In the last five years, it has undergone some changes to keep it moving in the 21st century and beyond.

While the magazine commissioned some of today’s prolific illustrators and photographers, the pages were feeling rather dated—especially having read the magazine since my 20’s. Twenty some years later, it still had the same look and tone yet my tastes had grown. I wanted it to grow as I did. Judging from the last three to four recent issues, it seems that Playboy has indeed done that. The art direction has a more contemporary flair about it, mixing more bold typographic treatments with thematically styled photo shoots. They have moved from that “Barbie” formula and focused on presenting their pictorials as real women in real settings, the editorial content more gripping and timely and the culture tidbits are more in line with my current tastes. Continue reading The Bunny Is Finally Evolving

Latina’s Got Its Sexy Back!

ebby_headshotWhen I worked at Essence Communications, a new partnership was formed to develop a bilingual magazine for Hispanic women called Latina. Being in the right place at the right time, I got to see some of the prototype pages and media kit. It was pretty exciting and the design work was really eye-catching. My fingers were crossed that it would be huge success. The magazine launched and was well received. It was exciting to see because here was a magazine speaking to Hispanic women about their issues and their wants instead of just adopting what was in the mainstream women’s magazine to suit them. I pretty much can say everyone feels good when they see themselves reflected in anything they are reading, watching or hearing in the media.

So it was long overdue for the American marketplace to support and encourage a project like this. As time went on, the design evolved. The layouts were more elegant, the art direction of the photo spreads were more conceptual and smart and the pace was engaging. The art director was Ebelinda Antigua. She developed the art direction and gave it such a classy, high-end fashion feel but coupling it with some fun. I eagerly anticipated the arrival of each new issue at the newsstand every month. Eventually, Ebelinda moved onto new opportunities and landed at Working Mother magazine where she brought here design magic to their pages and brand. Continue reading Latina’s Got Its Sexy Back!

Design Inspirations: Thomas Miller

Few places hired black designers but Thomas Miller got a job at Morton Goldsholl Associates, one of Chicago’s top design firms. He stayed with Goldsholl for more than 33 years. Though he won numerous industry awards, Miller always remained in the background even though he was responsible for some of Goldsholl’s best-known projects such as the redesign of the 7UP packaging and identity program. He was the first African-American to break into the mainstream profession of graphic artist, and during the 1950s and 60’s was one of few to maintain a membership in traditional trade organizations like The Society of Typographical Arts. Connections such as these were necessary to maintain and advance one’s career.

AT MORTON GOLDSHOLL : As chief designer
• 1976 – Redesign of the branding for 7 Up

(As a supporting member of the design team)
• c.1961 – Motorola rebranding
• c.1961 – Peace Corps logo
• c.1973 – Betty Crocker “Chicken Helper” branding

Founders Mosaics – DuSable Museum of African-American History

The founders’ murals are Miller’s magnum opus, and beautifully demonstrate the creativity that is typical of his work. Unlike traditional mosaic that is made with earthenware or glass tile, these are made from thousands of pieces of plastic that were harvested from plastic egg crate light diffusers which were then individually colored and arranged to create the images in the series. “Anybody can do an oil painting,” he said during an interview, “but to take a face and do it with squares is hard. They have to be turned at an angle to catch the light”. In addition to portraits of the founders, the series includes a portrait of Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, and a collage depicting the history of Chicago.

The papers of Thomas Miller are archived at the University of Illinois at Chicago and include photographs, proof sheets, slides, award certificates, realia, prototypes, calendars, periodicals and samples of his designs for industry. (7-UP, MIC, Betty Crocker’s Chicken Helper, children’s textbooks etc. are found throughout the papers and in the photographic images, slides and realia. STA: The 100 Show, 1961, 1986, and Simpson Connections Calendar, 1985 were transferred into the Special Collections Rare Book Collection.)

— Complied from Victor Margolin presentation on “African-American Designers: The Chicago Experience Then and Now” at Looking Closer: AIGA Conference on History and Criticism February 2001;; Wikipedia