You Look Like the Right Type

In a daily ritual since 2008, exact-dialogue fragments of overheard conversations are made into illustrated quotes

Mark Addison Smith
Associate Professor
DePaul University

On November 23, 2008, in the Chicago downtown loop, while hurrying to catch the subway, a young woman approached Mark Addison Smith and asked for a cigarette. “I don’t smoke,” he said. She snapped her fingers and replied: “Ahhh, you look like the right type.” Suddenly and strangely inspired by the exchange, he raced home and illustrated their brief conversation with expressive hand lettering, and a daily artistic practice was born.

In a daily ritual since 2008, Smith redraws exact-dialogue fragments of overheard conversations as 7×11-inch India ink works-on-paper, combining verbatim, hand-drawn text with visual and tonal embellishment; he often draws more than one quote per day. For gallery installations and artist’s books, Smith edits the single drawings into larger, theme-based conversations between people who have never met or exchanged words. When amassed together as modular narratives, the black and white drawings—voiced by strangers and collectively titled You Look Like The Right Type—share grayscale conversations across time, place, age, and gender (the who, what, when, where, why, and how of documentary storytelling). And the audience, as interlocutor, triangulates the conversation by reading that which was once spoken (a tenet of grammatology) and making their own non-linear, grayscale associations between text, image, and completion of what’s left unsaid.

November 2023 marked the fifteenth anniversary of Mark Addison Smith’s You Look Like The Right Type archive, now containing over 6,000 works-on-paper; he has never missed a day of eavesdropping and drawing other people’s words since he first began this series.

Select exhibitions:

In 2023, McMaster Gallery, within the School of Visual Art and Design at the University of South Carolina, celebrated the fifteenth anniversary of You Look Like The Right Type with an exhibition of Smith’s drawings, artist’s books, and sketchbooks. The exhibition spotlighted drawings Smith generated during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, in which he held remote conversations with strangers across the world and translated their words into drawn, visual essays of how they were grappling with the pandemic.

In 2019, The Bakery Atlanta, co-presented by Atlanta’s Eyedrum Gallery, celebrated the tenth anniversary of You Look Like The Right Type with an exhibition of 365 drawings.

Other solo exhibitions include Chicago’s Center on Halsted Gallery, where Smith showcased the original 24 drawings from his Years Yet Yesterday drawing series, sourced in language spoken by gay rights activist Larry Kramer, to commemorate World AIDS Day.

Group exhibitions include the Center for Book Arts in New York, Co-Prosperity in Chicago, Hegyvidék Gallery in Budapest, the Kinsey Institute in Bloomington, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art in New York, and Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA).

Mark Addison Smith’s type specimens and broadsides are included in the permanent collections at Emory University, the Kinsey Institute, Leslie-Lohman, Ringling College of Art and Design, and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Select interviews with Mark Addison Smith about this work:

Steven Heller, “The Daily Heller: Drawing to Manage Stress,” PRINT, July 1, 2022.

Debbie Millman, “Illustrating Sound,” The Mic, produced by NYCxDesign, episode one, October 30, 2020. 

Mark S. King, “This gay artist draws what he (secretly) hears you say on the streets,” Queerty, September 5, 2020.

Steven Heller, “The Daily Heller: Typographic Eavesdropping,” PRINT, May 5, 2020.

Kathryn Weinstein, “Sharing Loudly,” Designer, University & College Designers Association, Volume 24, Number 2, Summer 2017.

This project was the 2023 Design Incubation Educators Awards winner recipient in the category of Scholarship: Creative Works.

Mark Addison Smith is a queer artist whose design specialization is typographic storytelling: allowing illustrative text to convey a visual narrative through printed matter, artist books, and site installations. With his on-going, text-based archive, You Look Like The Right Type, he has been drawing snippets of overheard conversations every single day since 2008 and exhibiting the works as larger-scale conversations between strangers exchanging words on topics never spoken. You Look Like the Right Type has been featured in All Things Letters, Deadline, Design Sponge, Goodtype, Hyperallergic, I Love Typography, PRINT Magazine’s The Daily Heller, Queerty, MAGMA Brand Design’s Slanted Magazine, and in conversation with Debbie Millman for the very first episode of NYCxDesign’s podcast, The Mic. His artist’s books are housed in over 80 permanent collections and library archives, including Brooklyn Museum Artists’ Books Collection, Center for Book Arts, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, Getty Research Institute, Guggenheim Museum Library and Archives, Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection, Library of Congress, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Thomas J. Watson Library, MoMA Franklin Furnace, Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California, Smithsonian American Art and National Portrait Gallery Library Artists’ Book Collection, Walker Art Center Archives and Library, and the Whitney Museum of American Art Frances Mulhall Achilles Library. Smith holds a Master of Fine Arts in Visual Communication Design from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).

Centered: People and Ideas Diversifying Design

Examples of sophisticated, intelligent design from many cultures around the world

Kaleena Sales
Associate Professor
Tennessee State University

This book has its origins in Beyond the Bauhaus, a series of short essays Sales developed through her board service with AIGA’s Design Educators Community Steering Committee in 2019. Her goal with that series was to amplify design work from underrepresented groups who have been left out of the design canon. The first article featured the beautifully designed West African Adinkra symbols from the Akan people of Côte d’Ivoire and discussed the deep meaning within the symbols, as well as the use of common visual principles within the designs. What she hoped to demonstrate to readers was that there were examples of sophisticated, intelligent design in many cultures around the world, many of which were developed prior to movements like the Bauhaus. The next essay was on the work of AfriCOBRA, a civil rights–era artist collective based in Chicago. While the work of AfriCOBRA has made its impact within the fine arts scene, gaining notoriety during the height of the Black Power Movement, she sought to share their work through the lens of design. Though the group did not self-identify as designers, if educators and practitioners are interested in learning from diverse design methodologies, it makes sense to look beyond the boundaries of our professional discipline to find examples of successful design. In AfriCOBRA’s work, we find a delightful use of expressive lettering, rhythmic patterns, and bold colors. This work is particularly inspiring because these artists found a way to codify their visual language. They decided on a shared aesthetic vision and executed it time and again. Working against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement, these artists intentionally pursued a Black aesthetic, reflecting pride in their community and identities. 

As the article series grew, contributors began to submit essays about other design histories worthy of inclusion in the canon. Caspar Lam and YuJune Park wrote an essay about the Chinese Type Archive featuring the evolving typographic language of modern Chinese. Stephen Child and Isabella D’Agnenica contributed an article on the Gee’s Bend Quilters, a group of Black women from Alabama who mastered an improvisational style of quilting. Dina Benbrahim wrote an essay titled “Moroccan Design Stories, with Shape and Soul,” analyzing the typographic and geometric designs found within Moroccan design history. Other early contributors to the article series were Ali Place, who examined the role of women in computer programming, and Aggie Toppins, who investigated the story behind the I AM a Man placard from the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers’ strike.

As this work moved from an article series to a book, there was space for some of these essays to develop into fuller writings with more in-depth research. A critical component that she hoped to achieve was to peel back the aesthetic layers of the designs to allow each reader to understand the social, political, and cultural contexts surrounding the making of the work. In examining the contexts, readers will discover how different cultural groups determine meaning, and how non-canonical ideologies and methods offer additional ways of making than what is offered by the grid-based Swiss styles of mainstream graphic design.

When she began this book process, she envisioned a neat and streamlined series of essays, matching in length and format. What developed over time became something much more organic, with essays and interviews of varying lengths. Often, she was left speechless and humbled at the generous sharing of knowledge. Nuveen Barwari’s essay, “Kurdish Fragments: Mapping Pattern as Language,” discusses the displacement of millions of Kurdish people and its impact on decorative art practices. She examines Kurdish rugs as artifacts of erasure, explaining how identity is employed through metaphors and floral themes. In her interview with Sadie Red Wing, she explains how Indigenous tribal communities have used Traditional Ecological Knowledge to inform their understanding of design and how visual sovereignty is at the heart of her work. In her conversation with Saki Mafundikwa, he explains how the colorful visual landscape of Zimbabwe offers a counter to the white space of German and Swiss design. She also draws comparisons between design and American soul music, bringing to light the creative genius of Black people across cultures and disciplines. Other essays and interviews in the book offer similar insight into perspectives and ideologies that aren’t reflected in modernist design. Further still, design leaders Ellen Lupton and Cheryl D. Holmes Miller offer perspective on the future of design, its pedagogy, and ways to reconcile the past. Practitioners Tré Seals of Vocal Type and Zipeng Zhu discuss the relationship between their work and their identity.

This small sampling of stories offers more than a quick glimpse into design artifacts. she asks of the reader to consider what we don’t know, and what questions have yet to be asked. she asks the reader to rethink the definition of design to expand beyond contemporary and digital practices and beyond the boundaries of the Western design canon.

This project was the 2023 Design Incubation Educators Awards winner recipient in the category of Scholarship: Publication.

Kaleena Sales is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design and Chair of the Department of Art and Design at Tennessee State University, an HBCU (Historically Black College or University) in Nashville, TN. Her research is rooted in racial justice and equity, with a specific focus on the ways culture informs aesthetics. Kaleena is co-author of the book, Extra-Bold: A Feminist, Inclusive, Anti-Racist, Non-Binary Field Guild for Graphic Designers, alongside Ellen Lupton, Farah Kafei, Jennifer Tobias, Josh A. Halstead, Leslie Xia, and Valentina Vergara. Through her service on AIGA’s Design Educators Community Steering Committee, Kaleena advocated for a more inclusive view of design history through her Beyond the Bauhaus writing series, which served as inspiration for her new book, Centered: People and Ideas Diversifying Design, published by Princeton Architectural Press. Kaleena is currently researching the intersection of Black culture and design as a doctoral student at North Carolina State University.

Feminist Designer

A book that explores emerging feminist practices in design

Alison Place
Assistant Professor
University of Arkansas

Additional contributors: Jennifer Armbrust, Dina Benbrahim, Madeline Avram Blount, Elizabeth Byrd, Benedetta Crippa, Alexandra Crosby, Laura Devendorf, Rachael Dietkus, Ashley K. Eberhart, Griselda Flesler, Aimi Hamraie, Gaby Hernández, Alexis Hope, Jeff Kasper, Ellen Kellogg, Aasawari Kulkarni, Eden Laurin, Una Lee, Andrew Mallinson, Claudia Marina, Victor G. Martinez, Lauren Lee McCarthy, Margaret Middleton, Maryam Mustafa, Becky Nasadowski, Maya Ober, Nina Paim, Elizabeth Pérez, Heather Snyder Quinn, Cami Rincón, Jenn Roberts, Velvet A. Johnson Ross, In-ah Shin, Marie Louise Juul Søndergaard, Ayako Takase, Attia Taylor, Rebecca Tegtmeyer, Aggie Toppins, Ilaria Vanni, Joana Varon, Manon Vergerio, Mandy Harris Williams, Sarah Williams.

Published in September of 2023 by MIT Press, Feminist Designer: On the Personal and the Political in Design is a book that explores emerging feminist practices in design. Place wrote this book, primarily, for her students, in whom she observed strong passion for addressing feminist issues through design with little understanding of the histories and power structures that undergird them. The writing and concepts in the book are intended to be accessible for a wide audience, not just an academic one. Her own writing makes up about one-third of the book, while the rest is comprised of contributions from other designers. Contributors were solicited through an open call for proposals or by direct invitation, with a significant effort made to assemble a diverse array of identities, background, disciplines and perspectives. Each contributor was paid an honorarium, funded by an advance from the publisher.

Book Blurb

Feminist Designer brings together a constellation of voices and perspectives to examine the intersection of design and feminist theory. For decades, the feminist refrain within design has hinged on the representation and inclusion of women in the field. This collection, however, is a call to move beyond this narrow application. Feminist design is not just about who does design—it is about how we do design and why. Feminist frameworks for design activism are now more relevant than ever, as they emphasize collaborative processes that aim to disrupt and dismantle power hierarchies while centering feminist ways of knowing and doing.

The first book in nearly three decades to address such practices in design, Feminist Designer contains essays, case studies, and dialogues by 43 contributors from 16 different countries. Place engages a wide variety of design disciplines, from graphic design to disability design to algorithmic design, and explores key feminist themes, such as power, knowledge, care, plurality, liberation, and community. Through diverse, sometimes conflicting, intersectional perspectives, this book contributes new design methods informed by a multiplicity of feminisms that confront design’s patriarchal origins while ushering in new pathways for making critical and meaningful change.

Book Design

In addition to writing the book, she also designed it, which was a feminist project in itself. The three typefaces used are Bastardo Grotesk (Giulia Boggio), Cofo Sans (Contrast Type Foundry), and Fraunces (Phaedra Charles)—all created by designers who identify as women, non-binary or trans. The typography on the cover makes a loud statement with the title and subtitle in large, bold type with a spot varnish, echoing an unwavering chant of feminist protest. The addition of emoji-style glyphs on each line speak to the snarky ambivalence felt by an emerging generation of feminists. The purple hues merge the historical purple of the 20th century suffragettes, with the effervescence of so-called Gen Z lavender. In the feminist spirit of citation, the name of every contributor in the book is featured on the cover in alphabetical order, giving credit where credit is due. The interior of the book is designed for accessible reading, plus ease of skimming; sections are short, with headlines, decks, and pull quotes like a magazine.


The book has received much positive recognition from the media, with excerpts published in Design Observer and Fast Company; several reviews in major outlets including the Boston Globe, Metropolis Magazine, and Madame Architect; and was named one of the best design books of 2023 by both Fast Company and the Architect’s Newspaper. Currently, there are seven journal reviews in progress expected to be published next year in top journals, including Design and Culture, Design Issues, and the Journal of Feminist Pedagogy. Place has been interviewed about the book on two podcasts, Scratching the Surface and The Deep Dive, and invited to speak at DePaul University in Chicago in 2024. Though it has only been four months since the book was published, she is excited to see the conversations about feminist design that have been initiated, and she look forward to expanding and amplifying those in the months to come.

This project was the 2023 Design Incubation Educators Awards winner recipient in the category of Scholarship: Publication.

Alison Place is a designer, educator and researcher who works at the intersection of feminism and design to create spaces for critical making and radical speculation. She is the author of Feminist Designer: On the Personal and the Political in Design published by MIT Press in 2023. She is an assistant professor of graphic design at the University of Arkansas School of Art, where she also serves as the director of the graphic design program. She has held several leadership roles in the design community, including two terms on the AIGA Design Educators Community National Steering Committee, and has earned multiple national awards for her scholarship and creative work. Previously, she worked for more than ten years as a creative director and designer for nonprofit and higher education institutions. She earned an M.F.A. in experience design from Miami University of Ohio, as well as degrees in graphic design and journalism from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.

Tangible Graphic Design 

Lee is committed to making the field of art and design more diverse and inclusive with people from diverse ethnic, cultural, social, and economic backgrounds.

Taekyeom Lee 
Assistant Professor
University of Wisconsin-Madison

The project, Tangible Graphic Design, was initiated during Taekyeom Lee’s graduate study. The eye surgery and the face-down recovery were life-changing experiences academically and personally. For a young graphic designer and an international student, it was a horrifying experience, especially the surgery. A gas bubble injected into the eyeball applies gentle pressure and helps the detached retina to reattach to the eyeball. It took almost three months to recover fully. After the surgery, Taekyeom Lee was fully healed, but it left minor vision issues. This invisible disability made Taekyeom Lee embrace the experience and initiate a new graphic design project with vision, tactility, design, and materiality.

Since graduation in 2014, Taekyeom Lee lost access to the ceramics facility. It inspired him to build DIY 3D printers to work with various conventional and unconventional materials in three-dimensional printing. The most exciting feature of these Do-It-Yourself 3D printers is that anyone can be a tool maker building affordable machines and customizing them for individual creative practices. The project was a self-funded low budget project. Since Taekyeom Lee SNS went viral, the project inspired many people across the globe to build their own 3D ceramic printers. During the artist in residency at the Internet Archive, Taekyeom Lee created and shared the detailed plan and instructions online to make it accessible to everyone.

Designers can use various printing techniques to produce visual materials and solve visual problems. Since the invention of printing technologies, type designers have spent hundreds of years developing impeccably proportioned, beautiful typefaces to use on flat and static space and print technologies to support the perfection of printed materials. Digital fabrication can change the notion of printed text and how we experience materialized type since the tangible type does not lie on the static surface or live on-screen as a mirrored image. Digital fabrication, particularly 3D printing, has become more refined, common, and accessible. These new technologies have introduced new tools for pushing the boundaries of typography both in terms of concept and medium. 3D-printed tangible graphic elements acquire characteristics such as dimension, structure, materiality, and even physical interactivity. For this project, various conventional and unconventional materials in 3D printing were used to explore both the challenges and potential for typography. 3D printed tangible type not only amplified visual but physical interactions. The tangible type provides engaging tactile experiences, which would be more intuitive, expressive, and memorable.

Humans have five basic senses. Sensing organs send information to the brain to help us perceive the surroundings and the world. The sense of touch is the first sense to develop, and we have the largest sensing organ for touch as touch occurs across the whole body. Visuals and touch are closely linked together, although touch is fundamentally a non-visual perception. Touch can enhance and reinforce the user’s experience with the text, and the idea has been done with traditional printing methods.

The 3D printed embosser and other tangible graphic design applications combine both senses. The concept of the embossing technique can trace back to the cylinder seal, invented around 3500 BC to make an impression in wet clay. As this new embosser is portable, affordable, and customizable, there are a few possible applications. It can be used for participatory activities for promotional events and campaigns. It provided not only visual experiences but also engaging physical experiences. Not like today’s digital printing, the process involves a rich tangible experience, which is more intuitive, fun, and memorable. As the outcome provides a three-dimensional experience and substance, with braille, it could be developed for people with vision impairment.

Through his research, Taekyeom Lee has tried to bridge different areas of art and design. There are more design tools and processes in different industries, such as product design, architecture, sculpture, and metal smithing that have been working with various physical media. The tools and processes those areas have developed could be adapted to graphic design education. An extension of the project addressed how dimensional typography could utilize Rhino, computer-aided design (CAD) software, and Grasshopper 3D, a visual programming language run within Rhino, could be implemented in design processes and methods for typography in graphic design education. They bring extended physical experiences in typography from computer screen to physical space to enhance the interaction of typography directly. The outcome of the method was exhibited via many exhibitions.

Diversity is more than just a popular buzzword in discussions about art and design, and education. Taekyeom Lee is committed to making the field of art and design more diverse and inclusive with people from diverse ethnic, cultural, social, and economic backgrounds. As a first-generation college student and a foreign-born (Korean-born) designer, Taekyeom Lee wants to create opportunities to appreciate and embrace diversity and inclusion. Hangul Alphabet typeface highlights intercultural and bicultural experiences between Korean and English. Currently, Taekyeom Lee is working on a collaborative project with a group of design educators.He is very interested in supporting the new generation of artists and designers using emerging technologies such as 3D printing, digital fabrication, and creative coding.

The next chapter of my research is called Graphic Design for Accessibility, based on years of experience working with tactility as a graphic designer. Crafting better and more accessible experiences for people with low vision and vision impairment has been demanded. Fostering accessibility is inevitable. It will be developed as a regular course to embed my research and practice into my teaching and increase the understanding of diversity and inclusion for future graphic design students. The course will be an introduction to visual communication design for accessibility. Fostering accessibility in Graphic Design education is inevitable. This direction has excellent potential as a future design research project.


Taekyeom Lee is an educator, multidisciplinary designer, and maker. He is currently an Assistant professor of Graphic Design at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He received an MFA degree in Graphic Design from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research explores unconventional materials and alternative solutions to create tangible typography, graphics, and even designed objects using digital fabrication. He infused 3D printing into his research and has been experimenting with various methods and materials. He presented through national and international conferences, including AIGA Design Conference, AIGA DEC, UCDA Design Incubation, DEL, ISEA, IEEE VIS, ATypI, TypeCon, Education Summit, Tipografia México, and NCECA. His work has been featured in various media. His research draws attention nationally and internationally. He exhibited his work and provided workshops and lectures across the country and abroad.

Design After Capitalism: Transforming Design Today for an Equitable Tomorrow 

Looking at the field to transcend the logics, structures, and subjectivities of capitalism—to combine design entrepreneurship with social empowerment.

Matthew Wizinsky
Associate Professor
Graduate Program Director (MDes) & Associate Professor
University of Cincinnati

‘Design after Capitalism’ was published in 2022 by The MIT Press. This major work of design theory analyzes contemporary design practices through the lens of political economy. Drawing on insights from sociology, philosophy, economics, political science, history, environmental and sustainability studies, and critical theory, the book lays out core principles for a modified and postcapitalist approach to design.

The designed things, experiences, and symbols that we use to perceive, understand, and perform our everyday lives are much more than just props. They directly shape how we live. In Design after Capitalism, Matthew Wizinsky argues that the world of industrial capitalism that gave birth to modern design has been dramatically transformed. Design today needs to reorient itself toward deliberate transitions of everyday politics, social relations, and economies. Looking at design through the lens of political economy, Wizinsky calls for the field to transcend the logics, structures, and subjectivities of capitalism—to combine design entrepreneurship with social empowerment in order to facilitate new ways of producing those things, symbols, and experiences that make up everyday life.

After analyzing the parallel histories of capitalism and design, Wizinsky offers some historical examples of anticapitalist, noncapitalist, and postcapitalist models of design practice. These range from the British Arts and Crafts movement of the nineteenth century to contemporary practices of growing furniture or biotextiles and automated forms of production. Drawing on insights from sociology, philosophy, economics, political science, history, environmental and sustainability studies, and critical theory—fields not usually seen as central to design—he lays out core principles for postcapitalist design; offers strategies for applying these principles to the three layers of project, practice, and discipline; and provides a set of practical guidelines for designers to use as a starting point. The work of postcapitalist design can start today, Wizinsky says—with the next project.


Matthew Wizinsky is a designer, researcher, educator, and author on contemporary issues in design practice and research. He has over 20 years of professional experience in graphic, interactive, exhibition, and experiential design. He is Graduate Program Director (MDes) & Associate Professor in the Ullman School of Design at the University of Cincinnati, PhD researcher in Transition Design at Carnegie Mellon University, and Associate Editor for Visible Language, the longest-running peer-reviewed design journal. He is the author of Design after Capitalism (MIT Press, 2022).

The Black Experience in Design: Identity, Expression, and Reflection 

An anthology centering a range of perspectives, spotlights teaching practices, research, stories, and conversations from a Black/African diasporic lens.

Anne H. Berry
Associate Professor
Cleveland State University

Jennifer Rittner
Visiting Assistant Professor 
Parsons School of Design

Kelly Walters
Assistant Professor of Communication Design 
Parsons School of Design

Lesley-Ann Noel, PhD
Assistant Professor
NC State University

Penina Laker 
Assistant Professor
Washington University in St. Louis

Kareem Collie
User Experience Design Lead

Excluded from traditional design history and educational canons that heavily favor European modernist influences, the work and experiences of Black designers have been systematically overlooked in the profession for decades. However, given the national focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the aftermath of the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests in the United States, educators, practitioners, and students now have the opportunity—as well as the social and political momentum—to make long-term, systemic changes in design education, research, and practice, reclaiming the contributions of Black designers in the process.

The Black Experience in Design: Identity, Expression, and Reflection (BEID), an anthology centering a range of perspectives, spotlights teaching practices, research, stories, and conversations from a Black/African diasporic lens. Through the voices represented, this text exemplifies the inherently collaborative and multidisciplinary nature of design, providing access to ideas and topics for a variety of audiences, meeting people as they are and wherever they are in their knowledge about design. BEID is a reference for students in design, communication, and related areas of study, as well as a reference for diverse audiences, including but not limited to educators and academics from cultural studies, media studies, film, sociology, psychology, history, critical theory, and other social sciences.

Of particular note is the role of Sylvia Harris’ seminal 1998 essay “Searching for a Black Aesthetic in American Graphic Design” as a foundational piece for the text. In publishing this book, the editors have responded to her call to “contribute to [the existing] body of knowledge and support a generation of designers hungry to see their people and experience reflected in the mirror of our profession.” At least a portion of the wide range of work and research undertaken by Black designers has been codified in this text that we as design educators, practitioners, and former students wish we previously had in our collections and need for our own teaching, scholarship, and practice.

At the time the book was conceived and published, moreover, it was the first of its kind. The editorial team was inspired by a number of books on related topics, yet no other text captured both the diversity and breadth of Black contributions to design history and creative practice—past, present, and future—in one resource/anthology. Ultimately, The Black Experience in Design serves as both inspiration and a catalyst for the next generation of creative minds tasked with imagining, shaping, and designing our future. As author and critic Steven Heller noted, The Black Experience in Design is “A long time coming.”

The Writing/Publication Process

The publication of The Black Experience in Design began and ended in the midst of the 2019 Coronavirus pandemic. The entirety of the editorial team process and book production, consequently, was conducted via email and Zoom meetings across three time zones and with the aid of Slack and Miro applications.

The starting point for the project was a special issue journal focused on Black designers. However, as a result of editorial team conversations, discussions shifted away from a particular venue or format to focus more squarely on our collective goals, i.e., what we hoped to achieve through our efforts. Namely, reaching a diverse creative audience and covering a wide range of topics. A book provided the flexibility needed, and we subsequently developed a table of contents that spoke to the range of subjects we aimed to address.

BEID grew from approximately 50 contributors to 70, nearly doubling the size of the manuscript. Yet, the outcome reflects only a portion of the month of outreach undertaken, including interviews and rounds of feedback and editing. Importantly, we strived to build connections among contributors and editors during a period of cultural, social, and political upheaval; by meeting with contributors within our respective chapters and hosting writing sessions, we provided support and promoted a sense of community.

The Design Process

The initial illustration concept stemmed from the idea of Black designers being trapped within a box. No matter how hard we try to reshape or reform that box, it still remains present. The goal, subsequently, was to demonstrate this concept visually; the illustrations represent variations of reclaiming or breaking free from the aforementioned box. Each chapter has its own themes and related motifs that accompany introductions and individual essays within each chapter.

The typography of the book was thoroughly researched and considered to meet the needs of a massive, complex system. The moments of dialogue leave ample space to pause and reflect on the words and mimic the feeling of an actual conversation. The chapter introductions use a large, lean serif that dances around the illustrations. All components work together as a system to help the reader digest the information and enjoy the experience.

Impact + Outcomes

  • The retail store Target pre-ordered 8,000 copies.
  • The School of Visual Arts (NY, NY) donated $2,000 to help cover publication costs.
  • We launched a Kickstarter campaign that garnered nearly 300 backers and raised over $21,000, exceeding our $15k goal.
  • BEID has been acquired by colleagues at the following institutions and organizations: California College of the Arts, Cleveland State University, The College of New Jersey, CUNY College of Technology, Drexel University, East Tennessee State University, Inneract Project, Kansas City Art Institute, Kent State University, Lesley University, Maryland Institute College of Art, National Museum of African American History and Culture, University of Notre Dame, North Carolina State University, Parsons School of Design, Penn State University, Pentagram, Princeton University, Rhode Island School of Design, San Francisco State University, Tennessee State University, University Arts London, University of Connecticut, University of Michigan, the University of Texas at Austin, Virginia Tech, Washington University in St. Louis, Yale University
  • Via Kickstarter, BEID has been shared in the following countries internationally: Australia, Canada, Germany, Greece, Great Britain, Kenya, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden.
  • As of mid-October 2022, BEID has sold approximately 5,000 copies.
  • An audiobook version of The Black Experience in Design is currently in production.


Anne H. Berry is a writer, designer, and design educator at Cleveland State University. Her published writing includes “The Virtual Design Classroom” for Communication Arts magazine and “The Black Designer’s Identity” for the inaugural issue of the Recognize anthology featuring commentary from Indigenous people and people of color. She is also co-creator of the award-winning project Ongoing Matter: Democracy, Design, and the Mueller Report and managing editor of The Black Experience in Design: Identity, Expression, and Reflection.

Jennifer Rittner is a writer and educator currently serving as Visiting Assistant Professor at Parsons School of Design. She has been published in the New York Times, DMI: Journal, and AIGA Eye on Design; and in 2021 served as guest editor for a special issue on design & policing for Design Museum magazine. A daughter of women, Jennifer centers the voices of her near ancestors Bernadette, Aurea, and Dianqui in her practices.

Kelly Walters is a designer, educator and founder of the multidisciplinary design studio Bright Polka Dot. Her ongoing design research interrogates the complexities of identity formation, systems of value, and the shared vernacular in and around Black visual culture. She is the author of Black, Brown + Latinx Design Educators: Conversations on Design and Race published by Princeton Architectural Press and a coeditor of The Black Experience in Design. Kelly is an Assistant Professor of Communication Design at Parsons School of Design at The New School in New York.

Dr. Lesley-Ann Noel focuses on equity, social justice, and the experiences of people who are often excluded from design education, research and practice. She promotes greater critical awareness among designers and design students by introducing critical theory concepts and vocabulary into the design studio e.g. through The Designer’s Critical Alphabet and the Positionality Wheel.

Penina Laker is a designer, researcher, and educator at Washington University in St. Louis. Her practice and research is centered around investigating and applying methodologies that utilize a human-centered approach to solving social problems, locally and internationally. She is currently broadening the scope and access of design education to young people in Uganda through her DesignEd workshops and My African Aesthetic, a podcast she cohosts.

Kareem Collie is a designer, strategist, and educator specializing in collaborative and human-centered design approaches to capture, reveal, and produce visual narratives and user experiences. He is the former Director of Design and Creativity at the Rick and Susan Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity at The Claremont Colleges and is now a Global Design Lead at IBM Consulting.

In the Round Series // Moving A Land Acknowledgment Statement Toward Action and Practice

This project communicates the vitality of acknowledging and learning about Native American cultures throughout the year.

Jenn Stucker 
Associate Professor
Bowling Green State University

Heidi Nees
Assistant Professor
Bowling Green State University

To situate the importance of Land Acknowledgment and Native American voices to the BGSU community, we established a year-long series for 2022 by hosting six speakers, one in each area from the Arts at BGSU: Creative Writing, Art, Design, Music, Theatre, and Film.

Our goals for the IN THE ROUND:

  • Educate our students and the broader campus and local communities about artistic expressions and processes with which they might not be familiar
  • Create space that is inclusive of Indigenous voices and Indigenous works that are currently underrepresented at our university
  • Contribute to decolonizing curriculum by offering opportunities for faculty to incorporate the guest artists’ engagements into their course syllabi
  • Connect members of our university community to Indigenous artists and help to build relationships with the artists that may foster further collaboration
  • Support BGSU’s strategic goals toward diversity and belonging

This project creates opportunities to enrich the learning, experiences, and perspectives of all members of our campus and local communities. Exposure to the artists’ works and techniques through which they share their experiences, worldviews, and reactions to the cultural and historical moments we all find ourselves can facilitate growth and dynamic learning opportunities for students, staff, and faculty. Furthermore, this project does not limit this celebration and visibility to Native American Heritage Month (November). While we recognize and appreciate the importance of this month, we also believe in sustained programming. This project communicates the vitality of acknowledging and learning about Native American cultures throughout the year.

Through this comprehensive project, the IN THE ROUND Speaker Series works to advance the contemporary presence of Native and Indigenous peoples to promote education, understanding, empathy, and reflection for the public good.

Creating, producing, and facilitating IN THE ROUND required:

  • Researching and curating the speaker series list in consultation with the Arts academic units
  • Regular meetings and email communications with a variety of stakeholders (approximately 800+ email correspondences and growing)
  • Fundraising ($44,000 for 2022) and budgeting for honorariums, travel, hotel, event rentals, photography, hosting, and promotions
  • Collaborating with the Arts areas, the Office of Diversity and Belonging, and Bowling Green community partners to coordinate events for maximum impact and reduce overlaps
  • Coordination of speaker invitations, travel arrangements, event agendas, classroom visits, ICS BG Ideas podcasts, radio interviews, and community activities at the Wood County District Public Library
  • Working with BGSU’s Jerome Library to produce LibGuides of collected research and resources for faculty, staff, and student access
  • Design of ITR promotional materials (website, social media content/posts, posters, thank you notes, digital signs, advertisements, post-event documents, and ephemera) to publicize the series and sponsors
  • Inviting university leadership to officially open the speaker series with the Land Acknowledgment statement and an introduction to the importance of creative work as a witness to our histories and envisioning new futures

The artists in this series engage in critical examination and exploration of issues facing Native and Indigenous Americans, including, but not limited to, sovereignty, representation, ecology, historical narratives, and present perceptions through a variety of artistic and expressive means. These outstanding speakers reached over 200 attendees at each event and connected their work to 1200 people from students, staff, faculty, and Bowling Green community members.

2022 In The Round Speakers

  • SETH THOMAS SUTTON, Artist. Activist. Filmmaker. Professor.
  • CAROLE LINDSTROM & MICHAELA GOADE, Author & Illustrator of We Are Water Protectors.
  • SADIE RED WING, Designer. Educator.
  • FRANK WALN, Hip Hop Artist. Music Producer.
  • MARY KATHRYN NAGLE, Playwright. Lawyer.
  • PAT PRUITT, Metalsmith Artist.

As creators of IN THE ROUND, Stucker and Nees soon realized creating a single-year event would not be enough to move BGSU’s Land Acknowledgment statement from words into action. Therefore, they have already secured $19,000 in funding for their Spring 2023 IN THE ROUND event. In March, the series will host Kevin Noble Maillard and Juana Martinez-Neal, author and illustrator of the award-winning children’s book Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story.


Jenn Stucker is an associate professor and chair of Graphic Design at Bowling Green State University (BGSU). She earned her BFA degree in Graphic Design from BGSU and her MFA in Graphic Design from Eastern Michigan University. Her work appears in several books on design, such as Graphic Design: The New Basics, Introduction to Graphic Design: A Guide to Thinking, Process and Style, and Collaboration in Design Education. She has also received award recognition in numerous design publications and has presented at several design conferences across the country and internationally on her teaching and research interests of design pedagogy, community engagement, and creative placemaking. She has co-chaired two AIGA Design Education conferences and, in May 2023, will chair the UCDA Design Education Summit. In addition to co-creating In the Round with collaborator Heidi Nees, Jenn is pursuing her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration at BGSU.

Heidi L. Nees is an Assistant Professor of Theatre in the Department of Theatre and Film at Bowling Green State University. She teaches theatre history and studies courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In addition, she directs in the department’s production program. Her research interests include theatre historiography, Native American drama, representations of the American “frontier” in performance, and outdoor historical dramas. Heidi has published in Theatre History Studies, Popular Entertainment Studies, Theatre Annual, Theatre Journal, Theatre Survey, and Ecumenica, and is currently working on a monograph about representations of Native American histories in outdoor historical dramas. Heidi is also the co-creator, with Associate Professor Jenn Stucker (School of Art), of In the Round: a guest speaker series featuring Native American and Indigenous creatives at BGSU.

Uttar Pradesh’s First Breastfeeding Cubicle

communication collaterals in the form of cubicle wall panels were co-designed and rigorously tested with a cohort of mothers from the target audience

Service Design Award Winner

Sarah Tanishka Nethan
Community Empowerment Lab 

Shatarupa Bandopadhyay (Former Art Fellow, Community Empowerment Lab)

Abdul Qadir (Graphic Designer, Community Empowerment Lab)

Aarti Kumar (CEO, Community Empowerment Lab)

Vishwajeet Kumar (Principal Scientist, Community Empowerment Lab)

Exclusive breastfeeding till six months has the potential to save ~8,20,000 babies. The State of Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) in India loses ~2,00,000 newborns annually, making it the global epicentre for newborn deaths. However, simple interventions like early initiation within 24 hours after birth and exclusive breastfeeding till six months aid newborn survival. But despite ongoing awareness and advocacy around the benefits of breastfeeding, the progress and uptake still remain low. The National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16) reports that in U.P. only a quarter of infants were being initiated to breastfeeding within an hour of birth, and only a quarter continued to be exclusively breastfed till six months.

A 10-days design sprint and partnership with Uttar Pradesh State Road Transportation (UPSRTC) in 2019 led to U.P.’s first Breastfeeding Cubicle at a public bus station in the State’s capital, Lucknow. This project aimed at

a) Creating an enabling environment for breastfeeding within the bus station;

b) Communicating value around breastfeeding and respectful care for nursing mothers through Communication Design, thereby shaping behaviors; and

c) Reinforcing ideal behaviors around breastfeeding through nudges in the form of communication materials.

The approach of the participatory design was adopted, wherein the communication collaterals in the form of cubicle wall panels were co-designed and rigorously tested with a cohort of mothers from the target audience. Insights from consultations with key stakeholders within the health system and UPSRTC were also included throughout the design process. The Breastfeeding Cubicle is a safe haven for traveling mothers who want to nurse their infants in a public place like a bus station. The wall panels act as a catalyst to nudge mothers to breastfeed their baby, through the use of storytelling aided by contextually relevant illustrations.

Design Process:

The idea of having a Breastfeeding Cubicle at public bus stations was birthed by the sight of a mother struggling to nurse her infant in a busy bus station at Lucknow. The Managing Director of UPSRTC (Dr. Raj Shekhar) was taken aback to see the plight of the mother and decided to create a comfortable space for mothers to freely breastfeed their babies. Our team was commissioned to develop the wall panels for the cubicle, which was led by the designer.

Potential personas were mapped, based on insights gained from the Formative Research conducted as part of a Gates-funded grant to strengthen breastfeeding practices through Kangaroo Mother Care, as well as exploratory unstructured interviews with urban as well as rural mothers and Agrimaas (respectful care champions stationed at the Kangaroo Care Lounges in public health hospitals of Raebareli district). The Breastfeeding Support for Indian Moms (BSIM), a peer group on Facebook that aims at empowering mothers around breastfeeding was also used as a platform to gain an understanding of the “pains” and “gains” of breastfeeding i.e. common challenges faced by mothers and challenges specific to breastfeeding while traveling, from a larger sample set. Additionally, methods like role-playing and journey map were employed to build deep empathy and understand the current mental model of beneficiaries, along with a review of existing communication materials on infant nutrition. Insights obtained from all these activities helped frame certain guiding principles for the cubicle space as well as the communication materials to be used in it.

From the above, we learned that women who would avail the services of UPSRTC buses belong to middle and low-income families. Broadly, they can be categorized into:

• Mothers of babies younger than 6 months

• Mothers of babies older than 6 months

It was found that most mothers avoid traveling during the early months of the infant (less than 4 months). Therefore, our focus was on babies above 4 months which would include a mixture of breastfeeding infants as well as those on complementary feeding. As a result, one of the challenges for us was to bring a balance between information for these two types of infant categories in the existing architecture of the cubicle, with a major focus on reinforcing breastfeeding behavior. Messaging content for the communication materials in the form of wall panels were developed for the two categories of infants, with the common goal of calming down a hurried and anxious traveling mother in those 10-15 mins of the breastfeeding episode inside the cubicle.

On reviewing the existing communication materials, it was found that the tonality of the messaging was very instructive and direct. The desirable outcome (i.e. exclusive breastfeeding) was stated explicitly and contradicted the beneficiary community’s underlying socio-cultural reasoning. Therefore, our approach instead was to create a system that shifts behaviors and helps adopt ideal behaviors than merely changing them. A highly iterative process of co-designing and pretesting the prototypes with beneficiaries from seven public health facilities in U.P. was employed, along with inputs from health providers and UPSRTC stakeholders. During the pretesting, it was found that the shortlisted prototype version powerfully resonated with the beneficiaries and also affected their desire to not replace breast milk with other alternatives.

Project Outcome and impact

The above activities enabled the design and development of wall panels for the breastfeeding cubicle. In order to make it gender inclusive and balance any underlying gender connotations, the wall panels had a teal and fuchsia base. Principles of affect and salience biases were used to create a conversational and narrative-based messaging architecture and tonality. The messaging was framed as a dialogue between the mother-baby dyad, with the mascot (i.e. an infant) addressing key perceptions on breastfeeding through culturally grounded analogies, along with simple cartoon-style illustrations. Cues for messaging were taken from experiences shared by mothers during the interviews, which became instrumental in making it contextually relevant for the beneficiaries. In addition to this, a remote lactation tele-support system was also developed, wherein the nominee created the operational plan, call protocols, and a database.

U.P.’s first breastfeeding cubicle was inaugurated on 30th September 2019 by Shri. Ashok Kataria (Minister of State, Independent Charge for Transport). Data from pre-COVID times suggests that an average of five mothers used the Breastfeeding Cubicle every day, who found the space to be attractive as well as comfortable, and the messages to be intuitive. The wall panels have created a respectful and caring environment for severely resourced nursing mothers by nudging them towards the desired outcome of breastfeeding, without any imposition. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the vibrant color palette and illustrations grabbed the attention of most passers-by. Furthermore, the conversational tonality of the messages, especially the analogies, appealed to the beneficiaries’ cultural “sense”. With such a positive response, UPSRTC had also announced to scale this initiative across hundred bus stations in the State. However, the expansion has been on pause since early 2020 due to the pandemic, since all the resources across government bodies (including UPSRTC) have been directed towards COVID-19 relief efforts.

This project aimed at changing behavior of beneficiaries by reinforcing ideal behaviors to achieve the goal of breastfeeding. However, behavior change isn’t possible overnight. But what this initiative does is that it aids a gradual shift to achieving breastfeeding outcomes for such a critical social challenge in difficult terrain like U.P. through Communication Design. This initiative, therefore, acts as a stepping stone to achieving the larger goal of newborn survival in one of the toughest geographies in the world.

Sarah Tanishka Nethan is a Social Design Researcher working at the intersection of participatory design and Behavioral Science, and currently working as Lead, Family Planning & Reproductive Health at Vihara Innovation Network. Over the years, she has developed community-centric solutions across disciplines of public health (primarily Sexual and Reproductive Health; Maternal, Newborn and Child Health; and WASH), planetary health, gender, and education. An advocate for inclusion and Human-Centered Design, she is deeply passionate about building innovations at the confluence of local wisdom and Design that bridge the social-development equity gap within communities. Currently at Vihara, in addition to managing the FP-RH practice area, she is conducting a landscape analysis on measurement and evaluation within HCD+ASRH programs, with an aim to develop solutions for some pertinent challenges within this field. In the past, she has also worked on various multidisciplinary projects associated with the World Health Organization, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UN Women, World Design Organization, Government of Uttar Pradesh (National Health Mission), and Stanford University, among others. She holds a B.Sc. in Fashion and Apparel Design from JD Institute of Fashion Technology, and Master in Design from National Institute of Fashion Technology, Mumbai.

Social Design: Bridging Two Continents Through Collaboration and Innovation

Students understand their role as designers/co-creators/catalysts within a global context to explore the problem of sustainability

Design Teaching Award Winner

Neeta Verma
Associate Professor
University of Notre Dame

The aim of this advanced-level course in Social Design was for students to understand their role as designers/co-creators/catalysts within a global context to explore the problem of sustainability. This multi-disciplinary partnership brought together students from the University of Notre Dame (UND) and the National Institute of Design(NID) in India. The cohort of 14 students traveled approximately 17,000 miles, with 19 weeks of working together (3 weeks in India, 2 weeks in the US, and 14 weeks of working virtually). With an emphasis on problem solving and innovation, the learning goal was to examine the problem of sustainability through a cross-cultural prism, in India and the United States— two very divergent socio-economic constructs. The project was funded through a $30,000 grant awarded to the lead faculty. This semester-long collaboration was to help students develop an understanding of social constructs within two divergent economies and look through globally re-contextualized perspectives at the singular issue of sustainability. The course was designed as a solution solution-finding process for a singular problem, where students not only to sought a solution but gained a deeper understanding of complex cultural, social, and economic environments within which design solutions often need to find congruity. The students gained both a depth of understanding and breadth of social competency of the frame of reference within which their solutions were expected to function.


The course followed an 8-step pedagogical process used in the Social Design class.

Empathy: the understanding the needs, attitudes, and pre-dispositions of a people with whom the designers are working

Immersion: Daily engagement and involvement over a period of time

Awareness: Observations and knowledge gathering of a problem area within its cultural context

Definition: Determining the scope of research and inquiry

Engagement: Understanding stakeholders and their interconnectedness

Synthesis and problem framing: Structuring the context within which the problem is being defined

Design interventions: Collaborative encounters that facilitate solution-finding at the grassroots

Integration: Ensuring that the solution embeds itself within the context from which the problem emerged


A total of six projects were completed. Of those, the one listed below is being showcased: Sustainable Packaging by Kacey Hengesbach (UND), Anupam Garg (NID)

The project looked at packaging trends in the current fruit and vegetable markets supply chain to document non-sustainable packaging trends and explore ways to replace existing packaging solutions with biodegradable alternatives in India.


The students developed cultural competencies by discovering ways of navigating new environments. Within research students were introduced to ethnographic research; and empirical investigation through interviews, photo and film documentation, logging daily activity, contextual analysis, and partnering with local individuals working in the supply chains to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges. The project framework for the project focused primarily on a critical understanding of convergence and divergence in problem-framing that helped students position their research in two diametrically different geographies. In some cases, the research yielded similar results between the two contexts and in others, there was great divergence.


The following steps were used within the design process:

1. Problem Definition

Researching statistics that quantitatively describe the acute problem of plastic consumption and the proportion that is specifically used for fruit and vegetable packaging. Also examined was the per capita consumption of plastics in the United States and India as they compare to world consumption.

2. Researching the market

Students researched the time and distance fruits and vegetables travel to get to markets. They examined the complexity of supply chains and journeys of fruits and vegetables as well as the needs that packaging had to fill along those journeys before arriving at the local wholesale markets.

3. Field research, interviews, and photo documentation

Over two weeks, students visited the wholesale and retail markets to understand the various needs of the vendors and where plastics were replacing traditional materials.

4. Exploring material

Students explored traditionally used regional materials like bulrush, banana, bamboo, and jute but ultimately chose the water hyacinth, a plant that is predominantly found across the world. It has both pliability and high strength in its various stages of drying.

5. Exploring materiality

Students explored the pliability and the tensile strength of the water hyacinth in its various stages of drying. They also examined how different surfaces could be created during each stage of drying to develop surfaces from soft (for protection) to hard (for support and bearing weight) to accommodate the varying needs of the markets.

6. The Design Intervention

For the final design intervention, the proposed solution was a packaging solution that offered a cradle to cradle method made out of naturally biodegradable materials, specifically using water hyacinth in combination with jute and bulrush. The packaging system was customizable, stackable, usable for display, reusable for future use, compactable, and transportable.

7. Project Design Impact

Environment: Creating a product that benefits the environment by ridding it of an invasive species without the use of harmful chemicals.

Economy: Adding income to rural areas that participate in manufacturing.

Culture: Supporting existing regional crafts and using their skills to create sustainable packaging solutions.


The course due to its travel component and the complexity of the problem exposed students to contexts that they had never experienced before expanding the classroom globally. Challenges included differences in climate, language, and cultural etiquettes. The academic challenges lay in navigating the research as the students immersed themselves in unfamiliar environments. On the other hand, experiencing the richness of a whole new culture and renegotiating the sense of the self within a new context helped broaden perspectives. The opportunity provided an incredibly enriching experience for design students to immerse themselves within a new social, cultural, and economic order. The experience enabled the design students to gain global perspectives about the implications of design and the impact it can have. Above all, with social innovation at the core of design education today, this experience built confidence and resiliency within students as they situated themselves within diverse contexts and collaborated with others to manage complexity at both global and local scales.

Neeta Verma is an Associate Professor at the University of Notre Dame and situates herself within the porous discipline of Visual Communication Design. Her areas of research and teaching focus on social equity and justice. She teaches Social Design at the intersection of social innovation and collaborative practices, and Visualization of Data that investigates the aesthetics, ethics, and politics of representation. Her current research, supported by a prestigious grant, examines youth violence. She received her MFA from Yale and currently holds Faculty Fellowships at the Center for Social Concerns, the Liu Institute for Asia & Asian Studies, and the Pulte Institute for Global Development at the University of Notre Dame. She is the recipient of several awards including Graphis, Core77, A’Design Awards, and International Design Awards. She has presented her research at both national and international conferences. She serves on the SEGD Academic Task Force and CAA Committee on Design.

Fusing Old and New: Visual Communication for the Liberal Arts

Teaching Award Winner

Evelyn Davis-Walker
Assistant Professor
Valdosta State Universit

I have always been interested in the melding of the historical and the contemporary—tradition with experimentation. When designing new and exciting methods of engagement with my design students, I wanted a unique experience that was not offered anywhere else. Upon my arrival to Valdosta State University, I wrote a grant to help acquire letterpress equipment and supplies used in the late 1800s and early 1900s. 

My initial interest was to preserve a vital part of graphic design history for students to study and appreciate. What I ended up developing was a proposal in which I infused 100-year old historic machinery with today’s 3D printing and laser cutting technology capabilities. Once I was able to restore the vintage printing press, I recreated type  (letters) through the use of 3D printers and laser cutters. Ensuring the letters were the exact size for utilization on the press, I printed specific type/fonts currently unavailable in our library of letters. The ability to customize and create three-dimensional letters and eventually illustrations is game-changing. Students will have the capabilities to print in a traditional method of graphic design while using ideas, styles and messages of a 21st century student.  

I am also honored to be featured alongside my fellow Art & Design colleagues in the 4th issue of the 2019 Valdosta State Magazine for my imaginative pairing of old and new processes. In the article, Changing How Art is Made: VSU Merges Old-School Techniques and New Technology to Revolutionize Creative Instruction, I discuss my desire to merge old and new processes in my classroom. My job as an educator is to present content of today to my students, acknowledge what had been done in the past on a historical level, and most importantly, make new pathways for learning for the future.

Students in ART 3091, Introduction to Graphic Design 1, spend the first four weeks off the computer; understanding the history of graphic design through hand-lettering and letterpress printing. This is both frustrating and freeing to the students upon learning of the scheduled structure on the first day of class. 

Students are exposed to the historic practice of arranging and printing letters on paper to communicate a message. The process is painstaking, complex and imperfect—all aspects that become substantially easier once the computer is introduced in week five. In addition to the incorporation of the computer, students have been integrating 3D printing and laser cutting as means of experimentation – the blending of traditional and technology. My on-going research and scholarship regarding traditional and contemporary processes (integration of traditional and technology), has been fascinating. Below is a breakdown of the multi-phased project introducing students to the art of typography.

PROJECT 1 – Structure and Breakdown
This first assignment in Graphic Design 1 began with each student choosing one word that described their unique personality. 

Each student created 20 abstracted 4” x 6” compositions by hand with black ink. The students were expressive by using only letters that helped spell their word. By restricting the designer to create abstract compositions, students focused on pattern, repetition, scale and unity as design principles in a non-representational expression through the use of typography. 

critique of the hand-lettering compositions were discussed as a class and the strongest three compositions were chosen to move forward into cut-paper iterations. (1-class vote, 1-professor vote, 1-individual designer vote.) The cut paper pieces were direct facsimiles of the hand-lettering designs, however color theory and relationships of positive and negative were addressed specifically with this phase.

Technology was introduced in these two phases by scanning the strongest cut paper design and digitally preparing it for laser cutting in the wood-shop. Students glued their wooden letters onto a board, thus creating a mirrored design for hand-stamping. Using ink and rollers, designers stamped their digitized wooden blocks onto 4” x 6” cards.

The final phase involved understanding one of the oldest forms of graphic design, letterpress printing. While the first few phases involved focusing on the abstracted word, the letterpress printing was a direct and literal compositional print of the word’s definition. Students were trained on type-setting, inking and operation of the century-old machine. To successfully complete this phase, their focus involved typographical rules such as leading, kerning, line flow and line direction.

Evelyn Davis-Walker holds a B.A. in Visual Communication and Computer Art from Otterbein University and an M.F.A. in Advertising Design from Marywood. 

In 2010, Evelyn was awarded 25 for 25 AOL International Art Grant where 25 winners (9,000 applicants) were funded $25,000. Evelyn designed individual memory games for 200 Alzheimer’s patients. In 2015, Evelyn received the Otterbein University Young Alumni Recipient for Community Engagement. 

She was a graphic design professor at Virginia State University before coming back to Otterbein to teach Communication Design for eight years. In 2016, Evelyn moved to South Georgia where she currently oversees the Graphic Design area of Valdosta State University’s Art & Design department.  

Along with her commercial design work, Evelyn has a strong affinity for all things paper – from mixed media collage, to creating typographic prints on her letterpress machine. She has received numerous awards and has exhibited in solo, group and juried exhibitions.

Recipient of recognition in the Design Incubation Communication Design Awards 2019.