Tag Archives: pioneer

Closing The Digital Divide

Technology represents an industry where people of color can create some equality both from an economic and employment perspective. At least that’s the idea. The reality is there aren’t many people of color of either gender in the tech industry, especially black and latino folks. There are numerous reasons for this—some which are out of our control and some well within our control—but my focus here is to introduce you to a person who has taken control of the situation to make it better for others.

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Remember this name ANGELA BENTON. She is real a doer and is proving to be a force in the tech world. She’s a graphic designer who was working in both print and web but evolved more into the digital creative space. She founded a company called BlackWebMedia. I haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting Angela in person, only on-line, but she has really impressed me. Her motivation, tenacity and drive is something I envy in a good way. She created an incubator program out in Silicon Valley called New Me Accelerator. Their mission is quote “…a 12 week immersive residential tech start-up accelerator for businesses that are led by under-represented minorities (African-Americans, Latinos & Women) in the technology industry.” Black Enterprise and CNN have prominently featured her and her program. There are folks who talk about leveling the playing field yet do nothing about it. Angela is not only doing something about it, she is making positive, tangible inroads in the technology sector. She is blazing a path for us to follow as this is the way our communities can get ahead of the game instead of just be bit players.

Pass the word and follow Angela’s example and pass forward the opportunities you have to someone else so they can make new ones. Kudos to Angela and looking forward to seeing more of what you do.

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Soulight On: Dave McClinton

spotlightlogo_DMSoulFul Design is proud
to present the series
Soulight On: a showcase featuring designers of color across different creative fields. My purpose is to shine light on fellow creatives that we don’t see in the mainstream design trades. My goal is for you to be inspired, be informed, be creative.

Designer and artist Dave McClinton launched his one-man design concern in 2004. Technically, though he had been taking on clients since his school days at Texas State University from a small sign shop to an alternative newspaper for tech start-ups and then out on his own. In the 20 years Dave has been working as a graphic designer, he has never lost his love of the work. “I still get excited about every project during the initial discussions,” he says. Early on, he was taught the 2 of 3 principle—fast, cheap, good… pick any two. “My heart is bigger than my wallet as I often help folks out regardless. It’s very hard to walk away from a creative opportunity,” Dave states.

He currently runs his design business while juggling a designer T-shirt line, Drivn Apparel, an advocacy newspaper, TODO Austin, and his own personal artwork. Late nights are a regular occurrence. After the phone stops ringing, emails calm down and those ‘real quick’ requests are over, the night offers peace to actually design something. Dave’s work has been published in Print‘s Regional Design Annual, Typography and Enclosures, the 4th book in the Master Library series, Shapes and Symbols, the 3rd book in the new Master Library series and Logo Lounge Volume 7.

1. How did you first become interested in graphic design?

As a kid, I was always interested in art. I’d scour over posters, magazines, illustrated books, and in particular, album covers. I didn’t know what the job titles of the people creating them were but I knew I wanted to be a part of it. During my senior year of high school, the first three hours of everyday was a class called ‘commercial art’. This is sort of old school, as the profession had just started being referred to as graphic design. This is when I first thought that I could make a living being creative. Continue reading Soulight On: Dave McClinton

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

AS AN INDEPENDENT ARTIST
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; TheHistoryMakers.com; Wikipedia

Design Inspirations: Leroy Winbush

Leroy Winbush broke ground in the 1940s as “the award-winning black man” who designed the window displays at the ­American National Bank & Trust in Chicago. Prior to that, only two years out of high school, he joined Goldblatt’s Department Store as designer of displays and eventually became art director—the only black employee in the entire company. His contemporaries read like a who’s who in the creative world: Duke Ellington, Walt Disney and Frank Lloyd Wright. He talks of their collaborations as though they were barbershop chums. Winbush Design still maintains offices in downtown Chicago, complete with numerous awards and photographs highlighting his accomplishments. His recent projects include special graphics projects for NBC, holiday decorations for Chicago O’Hare International, Midway and Miegs airports, a modular traveling exhibit for the Bally Corp. and, of course, exhibits for the DuSable. He passed away in 2007.

In 2008, Leroy Winbush was awarded an AIGA Medal. The medal of AIGA—the most distinguished in the field—is awarded to individuals in recognition of their exceptional achievements, services or other contributions to the field of design and visual communication. The contribution may be in the practice of design, teaching, writing or leadership of the profession. The awards may honor designers posthumously. The first designer of color awarded an AIGA Medal was Georg Olden in 2007 thanks in part to the AIGA Diversity Task Force, which I was the first Chairperson in 2006.

— 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; TheHistoryMakers.com

Design Inspirations: Reynold Ruffins

This is a gentleman who is steeped in rich design history. I had always read design books that touted the famous design studio, Push Pin, as being founded by Milton Glaser, Seymour Chwast and Ed Sorel. I nearly crapped in my pants finding out that Push Pin had a fourth founder and he was this distinguished black man named Reynold Ruffins. With all the praise that Push Pin and its founders were given, why can’t I find out more on Reynold Ruffins? I haven’t come across much information about Mr. Ruffins but below is what his biography states.

The stylistic invention and fresh quality of Reynold Ruffins’ illustrations and designs have occupied a very special niche in the graphic art world since his graduation in 1951. He was one of the founding members of the famed Push Pin Studio, worked for advertising agencies and then started his own design studio with Sims Taback A’53. Some of his clients have been Young and Rubicam, BBDO, McCann-Erickson, IBM, AT&T, Coca Cola, The New York Times, CBS, Scribner’s, Random House, Time-Life, Fortune, Gourmet and the US Postal Service. Ruffin’s work has won awards from the Art Directors Club of New York, New Jersey, Dayton Ohio and Des Moines Iowa; AIGA; Type Directors Club, Society of Illustrators ­(Silver Medal, Advertising Category); Society of Publication Designers; Mead Library; Printing Industries of NY and The One Show (Advertising Club of NY). His designs and illustrations have been internationally recognized in group show exhibitions at the Louvre, Paris, Milan, Tokyo and at the Society of Illustrators Annual Shows, AIGA shows, Art Directors Club of New York and many corporate shows. He has also designed and illustrated fifteen childrens’ books; work from these books has been shown at the Bologna Childrens’ Book Fair in Italy and was awarded “Best Illustrated” by the New York Times Book Review.

Since 1967, Ruffins has spread his enthusiasm and knowledge of illustration as a teacher at the School of Visual Arts, Parsons School of Design, as a Visiting Adjunct Professor at Syracuse University emeritus. Currently he is a professor at Queens College, CUNY and was Visiting Distinguished Professor (1989-90). Ruffins received The Youth Friends Award from the School Art League, NYC in 1991 for outstanding achievements, integrity, and commitment to excellence in education. The Cooper Union Presidential Citation was presented to Ruffins in 1972 for his work and prominence in his profession and he has participated on a volunteer basis in many activities of the school, attending career nights for junior and senior art students and served on the Alumni Council. In 1997, Ruffins received the Coretta Scott King award for “Running the Road to ABC”.

— PDF release of Reynold Ruffins, 1993 Augustus St. Gaudens Award.