COLLINS Crafts 2022 WAATBP Branding
By Alixandra Rutnik on Sep 15, 2022
"When I was studying design my first thought when learning about the history of design was just that— "where ARE the Black people?"
The One Club for Creativity's famous annual diversity conference and career fair, Where Are All The Black People?, is coming up in just a few weeks!
The spark that kicked off what would become WAATBP was lit so many years ago, when a Black employee at a Goodby Silverstein & Partners holiday party jokingly/not jokingly asked Jeff Goodby, "Hey, where are all the Black people?" That question was the impetus for what is now a monumental industry event that has taken place over the past eleven years, where attendees listen to many incredible Black speakers, absorb their powerful lessons, and connect with amazing individuals, including recruiters from many agencies and brands from across the country.
This year, the WAATBP branding takes on a halftone look, courtesy of a BIPOC team from COLLINS. Nicole Cousins Associate Designer at COLLINS and Dante Carlos (now an independent designer) crafted this camapaign together, taking inspiration from the Black Panther Party and other activists.
We talked to Nicole to learn about her experience in the industry, and hear more about the creativity behind this year’s branding.
How did you land in the design field?
I’ve always had a knack for being creative. My mom used to tell me when I was a very young child that I would read every single billboard sign we passed, so my love for words and typography started then. I started drawing when I was little too. In middle school, my art teacher told me that I had the potential to be an architect, so I attended a visual and performing arts high school. I explored drawing and painting and simultaneously got into designing book covers for aspiring writers on online social reading platforms.
After school, I took a video and fashion course at Pratt University, participated in a mural community project, and was part of the pre-college program with The New School. I took a lot of courses in fine arts and photography. I’m the type who goes with the flow and wants to make art for as long as possible. I knew I would eventually do something creative because that’s what I felt I was meant to do.
As a BIPOC designer, how were you made aware that you were moving into a professional space lacking diversity?
Through my experiences, I knew advertising was not very diverse. During high school, I was part of a pre-college program geared toward bringing more Black artists and designers into creative professions. Although that program was predominately BIPOC, I was often the only Black person or person of color in my classes. I am hoping to see more designs from Black and Brown faces. I still do not see a lot of Black faces in agencies and companies, which is frustrating. It may be slow, but change is coming.
"I was part of a pre-college program geared toward bringing more Black artists and designers into creative professions. Although that program was predominately BIPOC, I was often the only Black person or person of color in my classes."
When you think of the question, “Where are all the Black people?” what immediately comes to mind?
When I think of the question, “where are all the Black people?” I immediately think about the lack of BIPOC voices taught in design education. When I was studying design my first thought when learning about the history of design was just that— "where ARE the Black people?" Seriously. Sometimes you feel like you’re standing alone in the street confused and searching for familiarity.
"When I was studying design my first thought when learning about the history of design was just that— "where ARE the Black people?""
It is imperative to have BIPOC designers contribute to design for BIPOC communities. It has always been something that I am passionate about and have always challenged. As I am growing into my design career, I have not been surrounded by designers that look like me. This has impacted how I think and feel about my work and the themes that drive my willpower to create. It is a powerful thing to feel encouraged when you see someone who looks like you, do something you want to do. There’s not only a level of feeling “I can do it,” but “I’ll be alright,” too.
"It is a powerful thing to feel encouraged when you see someone who looks like you, do something you want to do. There’s not only a level of feeling “I can do it,” but “I’ll be alright,” too."
I am really looking forward to attending Where are all the Black People? I was not aware of the conference before, so when I started working on it, I was thrilled. I am looking forward to being in an environment where I feel completely comfortable and encouraged.
So for this year’s branding, you pulled inspiration from Black activism, specifically The Black Panthers. What elements from this source did you gravitate toward?
The newspaper, The Black Panther Party, was a huge inspiration. The newspaper was made to inform, educate, and assemble Black people. This fits right into the intentions of Where Are All the Black People? During the late 60s, it became the number one selling Black newspaper, and every panther had to read the paper before selling it. The cycle of educating, learning, and giving back drove our design for this year's event. Specifically, The Black Panther Intercommunal Review (volumes 4 and 15) are examples of what we referenced.
Take me through the creative decisions and explain why you did what you did for the 2022 WAATBP brand.
We wanted to highlight the driving curiosity of the event, "where are the Black people?" We wanted it in your face, spelled out—the very first thing you see. Then we keep that question at the forefront of your mind. So we made a new logotype for the headline. It frames everything across all of the assets and echoes the stylistic choices of that original newspaper.
The bitmap is reminiscent of the Black Panther Party propaganda posters. These posters were mass produced on machines with texture. The bitmap gives an extra tactile quality and print achievable on screens. The bitmap blurs the photographs, but you can still see the shades of melanin throughout the guest speakers. While it matches the purple of the overall palette, the focus seeks to encourage Black artists and designers to feel recognized and accomplished in their skin.
The font choices were made to provide a contrast that flowed nicely with the framing structure and big bodies of text on the website. I wanted it to be both bold and elegant.
When it comes to designing event branding, do you have any tips?
Start with the basics. This project was very interesting to me. I was able to explore and find inspiration through art and design within my community. From there, I was able to dive deep into typography and color. I played with type– referencing any old type books for motivation. Experimenting and pairing up different typefaces and scales helps find the right composition.
As an associate designer at COLLINS, what do you love about agency work, and where do you see yourself in five years?
I am beginning my career, so I am still finding my personal style. At COLLINS, I am working on various projects to help me grow my design philosophies and practice. And with every new project I take on, I gain a new source of inspiration.
ATTEND WHERE ARE ALL THE BLACK PEOPLE? OCT. 6 ONLINE AND OCT. 7 IN NEW YORK CITY