This is Revision Path — an award-winning weekly showcase of Black designers, developers, and digital creatives from all over the world. Each week, host Maurice Cherry interviews these creators about their work, their goals, what inspires them, and much more. First podcast in the Smithsonian NMAAHC.
If you have been a listener of the show for a while, then you know I love cartoons and animation. So having a chance to sit down with this week’s guest, Steenz, was a lot of fun. Steenz is one of the few Black women syndicated cartoonists in mainstream funny pages for her work on “Heart of the City”, and her work on previous titles has netted her several coveted awards, including the Eisner Award, in the cartoon industry.
We talked about her picking up the torch from Mark Tatulli for “Heart of the City”, and she walked me through her creative process for starting on new projects. She also talked how she first got into comics, her teaching at Webster University, and one of her dream projects — a re-imaginging of Encyclopedia Brown! Keep an eye out for Steenz — I think we’ll be seeing her work in the world for years and years to come!
John B. Johnson
If you were a part of last week’s State of Black Design conference, then you’ve already been introduced to this week’s guest — John B. Johnson. As the principal of A Small Studio in Seattle, he leads a team of creative professionals that specialize in authentic digital design.
We spoke about how his business has changed through the pandemic, as well as his process with new projects (such as DOSE). He also talked about growing up in Cleveland, studying architecture, and how these experiences led him to start his studio and move until settling in Seattle. This is a really thoughtful and deep interview, and I hope John’s story resonates with you all!
It's a new month, and I am beyond excited to share with you my interview with Julian Williams. He may be young in age, but his impressive body of work rivals those of designers with years more experience. We talked a few months after he completed work on the Biden for American campaign as their lead opposition brand designer. Pretty cool!
We spoke about how he landed on the campaign, and Julian shared the differences between working with clients in the U.S. versus clients in Europe. From there, Julian took me through his history as a designer, including working for fashion designers Tommy Hilfiger and Karl Lagerfeld, a stint as an intern at &Walsh, and being a designer at Nike while in The Netherlands. Julian also shared how his passion for voguing and the ballroom scene helps influence his work, and he gives some great advice for graphic designers out there looking to find their own style. Julian's motto is about making good work with good people -- something we can all take to heart!
Joseph Carter-Brown is a man of many titles. He’s a UX strategist. He’s a human-centered designer. And by day, he’s the global UX manager at Stanley Black & Decker, a Fortune 500 company that’s over 175 years old! Joseph’s versatility as a design leader extends far beyond titles, as you’ll definitely discover in this week’s interview.
We start off with a look at his work and his team, and he shares an anecdote from last year that put him on his current path to success. Joseph also talked to me about how he worked his way into a position at Apple thanks to Steve Jobs, his shift to UX after studying at Full Sail University, and speaks on his time with AIGA Baltimore and about how he wants to bridge the digital divide in Baltimore. Joseph is a prime example of someone who is using his skills to help build a more equitable future!
We have had a good number of design educators this year on Revision Path, but how many of them have written a book on designers of color? Meet Kelly Walters, an artist, designer, and educator who is currently the assistant professor and associate director of the BFA Communication Design program in the Parsons School of Design at The New School in New York. Kelly is also the founder of the multidisciplinary design studio Bright Polka Dot. Talk about having a full schedule!
Kelly talked about the adjustments she has made over the last year with respect to teaching, and we talked about how she was exposed to the arts early, but never thought of it as a profession. We also discussed the works she’s done through her studio, collaborating with other Black design educators, and the launch of her upcoming book “Black, Brown & Latinx Design Educators: Conversations on Design and Race.” Thank goodness for educators like Kelly who are helping add to the corpus of design history!
If there’s one word I would use to describe Sloan Leo, it would be “dynamic”. As the CEO of NYC-based FLOX Studio, they bring over 15 years of facilitation and community strategy to bring the power of community design to clients from all over. Sloan is also an accomplished mixed media artist, and their exhibition “A Watermelon for Leo” is a beautiful assemblage of ephemera, rituals and video.
We started our conversation off with a quick 2020 review, and Sloan talked about their daily flow and the work they’re doing through FLOX Studio. Sloan also talked about the beginnings of their passion for art and community design, and spoke on how they’re making space for joy during this current time. Remember their name, because I have a hunch we’ll be hearing more of Sloan Leo for years to come!
Insightful interviews and fascinating guests. Great show.
Invaluable & Authentic Resource
Wow - I’m so mad I just discovered this podcast! I’ve worked around tech for the past 4 years. This is exactly the resource I wish I had back then. Thank you to Maurice and all of the amazing guests that joined the show! I’m making the transition to UX Design so this is exactly the motivation and insight I need right now. Thanks again! So many people I look up to on here :)
The human-side of design
The show has a rich roll call of designers from all backgrounds. Some guests are more interesting than others, and how much you get out out of each episode may depend on which type of design field you’re most interested in.
The podcast is more about the people and their journeys and not so about the nitty gritty of design. It’s a good resource for people who are thinking about getting into some sort of design field or just want to be inspired by other black designers.
One thing that bugs me about this podcast is when the host asks the guests how they’re doing during covid. It’s overdone and has frankly become annoying. Otherwise, there are some good human-focused questions on the show.