7 Black creatives share their work and inspiration

Updated: Feb 4, 2021

2020 was a whirlwind of a year that impacted the entire world. Amidst a global pandemic, we also experienced the continuous wave of civil unrest. We saw protests and riots against systemic inequality, spurring from decades of suppressed emotions and unanswered injustice.

It was an awakening to the many issues that still need addressing. While it’s clear systemic inequality is not an easy matter to solve, we can at least take positive steps in the right direction.

With this in mind and in honor of Black History Month, we’re celebrating 7 creatives from Black and POC communities across various disciplines of design.

Iman Diarra is a creative technologist and experience designer working at Instrument, a design and technology agency. In the past few years, she’s partnered with big companies like Cisco and Shutterstock.

Iman also has a lot of fun with personal projects. Last fall she challenged herself to create a 3D render every day for a month, and recently created her first Instagram filter. A graduate of the Wix Playground Academy, she’s presently working on a self-care computer game for young Black folks.

“I value the act of creating just for the love of it. Creatives of color are not just here to save the world, we are also here to fully exist as the creative beings we are. That in itself is a form of resistance and progress.”

Jimi Stone is the founder and creative director of Rich Minority Studios. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Jimi started out as a graffiti artist, until he attended the OTIS & The Art Institute to study video production.

Rich Minority Studios was first formed as a collective of creative friends. Today, Rich Minority Studios is a creative agency working across many forms of creative marketing fields, like photography, video production, creative direction and website and product design.

Jimi has worked with musicians like Nana, ASAP Rocky, Reason and Mario. Recently, he launched his first fashion line, Eracism, voicing a clear anti-racist message of equality and unity. As stated on Jimi’s Editor X website, Eracism’s goal is to “Spread quality products that encourage love amongst one another across the world — while using the profits generated to help the growth of minority-owned art programs as well as small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.”

“My biggest goal is representing the unrepresented. I don’t only push how great it is to be Black - I promote how great it is to be an individual, and how important it is to love who you are despite what anyone else may think.”

Textile designer and illustrator Mia Lee grew up in Chicago studied costume design and theater production. She creates all kinds of designs, including print, digital, murals, and animations. Her animated cartoon Unwonderful World, which aired on Adult Swim, tells the story of a young floral artist named Mia.

She currently runs a satin design studio called Hot Funmia, bringing her creative patterns and illustrations to the world of fashion.

“To my young Black ladies who are pursuing art, you have to work three times as hard. Don’t be discouraged, hopefully society won’t treat you as bad but if it does, take that energy and put it towards your craft.”

Leandro Assis is a Brazilian artist, art director and letterer from Rio. He’s known for his colorful palettes, bold letterings, and playful illustrations. He’s worked with brands like Nike, Apple, Disney, Netflix, and Twitter.

Above all, Leandro is interested in using design as a way to talk about things he feels passionately about, like Black culture, gender topics and LGBTQ+ rights.

“We should occupy all spaces. Design is a very powerful tool — we can use it to our advantage. I can use my work to talk about important causes in the Black community, or just do a beautiful identity for a musical festival!”

Sophia Yeshi is a Black and South Asian illustrator and graphic designer based in Brooklyn, New York. A self-described digital native, she discovered Photoshop at 12 years old. Today, she uses her creativity to promote topics close to her heart like climate change, mental health and body positivity. She’s worked with brands like Adobe, and The New York Times.

Many of Yeshi’s projects, such as her work for Google and Instagram, feature a common theme of celebrating those in the Black community.

“Growing up, I didn’t see many people that looked like me at the forefront of art and design. I decided to create the world I wanted to see: a celebration of women and people of color.”

Tré Seals is a type designer based outside of Washington DC. In his words, He’s one of those “rare individuals who became what he wanted to be as a child.” From kindergarten to third grade, he would practice writing in cursive until he could get his handwriting to look like the sample sheets.

With names like "The Neue Black" and “James,” the fonts Tré creates are inspired by important historical moments in minority culture, referencing signage and other typographical visual from these periods.

“The most successful designers aren’t just interested in design. The most successful designers are lifetime learners.”

Adé Hogue is a freelance art director, designer and lettering artist based in Chicago, Illinois. He’s had the opportunity to work with brands like Facebook, Target, Netflix, and Mercedes-Benz.

Currently, Adé runs his own freelance design agency, working with both large and small clients. He is also a lettering and typography professor at DePaul University. Alongside his commercial work, Adé creates lettering pieces to express his views on important causes, such as the political elections, empowering local communities in Chicago and racial justice.

“A few months ago when everyone was posting black squares, I was thinking about what it meant to be a Black man in America walking around with a mask on. It felt important to make something that addressed it.⁣”