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Revision Path on Smash Notes

Revision Path podcast.

December 28, 2019

Revision Path is an award-winning design podcast that showcases the world's Black designers, developers, and digital creatives. On each episode, host Maurice Cherry explores the stories, processes, experiences, insights and inspirations of these awesome creators. Produced by Glitch, Inc.



Episodes with Smash Notes

Tech can be a lucrative career, but how many of us think of it as a way to close the wealth gap in the Black community? Nici Kelly does, and I love that her mission is to show people the different pathways into tech and tech entrepreneurship as a way to build a legacy.

We started off talking about Nici’s company, Care Covr, and her inspiration behind starting it in the midst of a global health pandemic. Our conversation continued when Nici talked about building Black wealth, her early introductions to technology, working in and with the Atlanta tech community, and what motivates her to keep going while also giving back to others.

Remember the name Nici Kelly, because I definitely think you’ll hear more about her for years to come!

Britt Lyle II is more than just a designer — he contains multitudes. Currently, he works as a graphics assistant at AMB Sports + Entertainment, where he helps out on visuals used by the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United. But outside of work? That’s when you see the different facets of what makes Britt unique.

We started our conversation discussing Britt’s work, which led to him talking about growing up in Orlando and attending Florida A&M University and studying through their esteemed design program. He also shared his story about moving to Atlanta and attending SCAD for graduate school, falling in love with motion graphics, and shared some of his other talents, including glitch art and cosplay!

Being a designer doesn’t mean having just one skill, and Britt is living proof of that!

Lately, I have been doing a deep dive into the magazine archives of EBONY and JET. While skimming the masthead of one of the old issues, I stumbled across this week's guest -- Brandi Davis! Brandi served as Johnson Publishing Company's web designer from 2004-2012, and was front and center at the company's shift from print to web. Wait until you hear her anecdotes about working there!

While we do spend a good bit of time talking about that portion of her career, we also talked about the importance of Black media online, how she has expanded into doing art therapy, and we dive into Brandi's latest creative project -- her own line of custom apparel inspired by her faith, her life, the culture, and her love for the city of Chicago. Brandi's drive and tenacity are the keys to her success, and I think after this interview, you will be motivated to conquer your own fears as well!

Have you picked up on the connection between this month's guests? It can be easy to look at the advocacy work and projects around diversity in design and think it's a new movement, but the reality is that the work is built on the shoulders and legacy of Black designers like Vernon Lockhart. As an artist, creative therapist, and the executive director of Project Osmosis, Vernon has worked hard to empower the next generation of designers through education for at least the past 20 years.

We spoke about Vernon's creative therapy practice, Art on the Loose, and he shared how his time growing up in Chicago, attending SAIC, and becoming involved with the Organization of Black Designers helped build the foundation for Project Osmosis. We also talked about respectability politics, the trap of "diversity", and his plans for bringing more design education to the south side of Chicago. Vernon Lockhart and his work are a testament to the fact that we all have the human right to be creative!

I can't tell you how excited I am to share this conversation with Antionette Carroll with you. Longtime listeners of the show may remember her first appearance here back in 2014. In the six years since then, Antionette has risen to become one of the design community's most outspoken advocates, and one of its fiercest critics. As the founder and CEO of Creative Reaction Lab, her advocacy work has been shared around the world.

This week's episode is a bit different than usual. You'll learn about the origins of Creative Reaction Lab, hear about her new venture &Design with Timothy Bardlavens (another past Revision Path guest!), and get some candid talk about the country's oldest professional organization for designers, AIGA. Antionette is proof that one person can really make an impression in the world through hard work, honesty, and determination!

One thing I love about Shayla Hunter’s story is how it’s never to late to pivot to a new career. By day, she works as a strategist at Egg Strategy, helping clients with solving problems through interviews, focus groups, and research. Outside of work, Shayla is the creator of The 100 Black Females* Project, a creative look at what it means to be a Black woman or girl today.

After starting things off with a quick pandemic/work-from-home update, Shayla shared how she began her career in publishing in NYC during the 2000s, including time during her master’s program at SVA studying under Debbie Millman. Shayla also went into why she shifted her career from visual content to strategy, and talked about how The 100 Black Females* Project came to be. Shayla’s success is a testament to the power of hard work and dedication!

If you attended the inaugural “Where Are The Black Designers?” conference a few months ago, then you’re probably familiar with this week’s guest — Mitzi Okou. This interaction and visual designer made quite the splash this year, and now that the dust has settled from this summer’s event, I figured it would be a great time to have her on Revision Path.

Mitzi talked about growing up in Atlanta and shared how her time as a classical cellist ended up fueling her career in design. We also discussed the Where Are The Black Designers? conference, and Mitzi gave some behind-the-scenes info on how it all came together and what she plans on doing next to keep the momentum going. Mitzi has definitely gotten the attention of the design community, and I’m intrigued to see what her next move will be!

If you're thinking about getting into product design, then this week's interview with Tolu Ajayi is just for you! Tolu has made it her mission to help inspire the next generation of product designers, and her passion and energy are infectious.

Our conversation began with Tolu talking about her current work as a product designer, and she told her story about how she transitioned from graphic design to UI/UX, and shared what sparked her to create UI Narrative, a platform and podcast that helps inspire and connect her to the greater design community. She also spoke on the Black women in design who help inspire her, and shared some of her goals for the future. I'm really excited to see just how far Tolu will go!

Meet Hank Washington, the owner of Hank Design Studios. His studio’s mission is to help brands turn strangers into friends, and Hank does this through the design and illustration. I was glad to catch up with him recently, not too long after his move to Atlanta.

We spoke about weathering the pandemic, and Hank shared how the first few months of business has went for his studio. He also talked about growing up in a small Southern town and being exposed to design as a kid, moving to Alabama to consider pursuing his dream, and gave some great advice for any designers out there looking to hone their unique style.

Hank’s illustration style is a good indicator of what kind of designer he is — creative, playful, and willing to think outside the box. And now that he’s struck out on his own, there’s no telling where his skills will take him!

This week’s episode will be a real treat for anime fans out there! I had the opportunity to talk with Arthell Isom, co-founder of Japanese animation studio D’ART Shtajio. You’ve probably seen his studio’s work on The Weeknd’s video “Snowchild”, or as part of the hip-hop inspired indie anime Tephlon Funk, but how did he come to be the first Black man to own an animation studio in Japan?

We talked about his current road to success, and Arthell shared how he runs the studio from day to day. He also gave his thoughts on representation in animation, what he loves about Japan, and he discussed why he started a studio there instead of the U.S. Arthell is making history and I love that he is blazing a trail for others to show that it can be done!

When you're walking in your purpose, there's nothing that can stop you from succeeding. Multidisciplinary designer Candace Queen knows this well, and brings energy, drive and passion to her work, whether it's volunteering with ADCOLOR or servicing clients for her company, Tabernacle, Inc.

We talked about how her studio has changed with the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic, and shared why she decided to strike out on her own after staking her claim in the advertising world in Chicago. We also talked about a few more of her projects -- The Brand Sequence and Blacks in Advertising -- and Candace talked about her vision for the next five years of her career. Thank you Candace for being an awesome example of Black excellence!

Design influences everything around us. It's something I've said on this podcast dozens of times, but social impact designer and researcher Carmela Wilkins is the kind of designer who really embodies this tenet in her work.

We started our conversation with a look at Carmela's work at NYC-based design communications firm A/B Partners, and she talked about how she got started there and the types of projects she's able to work on. She also shared her globetrotting adventures throughout Europe during her college years, spoke on how she lets her ambition fuel her success via "the obtainables", and talked about the importance of reanalyzing our connection to food and the environment during this current time. Carmela is a true citizen of the world who thinks deeply about the connected world around us — something we should all strive to be!