Installation view of Inside Out & Upside Down: Posters From CalArts 1970–2019 at REDCAT (photo by Brica Wilcox)

The California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) has been keeping an archive of posters designed by students and faculty over the past 50 years. The posters, which document the many performances and exhibitions held at the art school since its founding in 1970, were recently collected in a book and are virtually on view in Inside Out & Upside Down: Posters From CalArts 1970–2019 at REDCAT. The colorful pieces of paper have been a way for the school to reflect on its relationship to contemporary graphic design, including blind spots.

Ahead of the exhibition’s opening in August, CalArts alumni Tasheka Arceneaux-Sutton and Silas Munro decided to organize a Black alumni and student response to the CalArts show.

“As we found when preparing for the exhibition, an estimated 1% of all design alumni from CalArts are Black,” Arceneaux-Sutton and Munro said over email. After connecting with CalArts professor Michael Worthington, they decided to organize a series of events that not only addressed the lack of inclusion and representation at CalArts, but in the field of graphic design in general. 

“There are only 3–5% of working design professionals that are Black,”  Arceneaux-Sutton and Munro explain. “This has grown incredibly slowly from 1% of the working designers in the 1950s.” A major cause of this is the prohibitively high cost of design education. 

This leads us to wonder: What if we got to see more diverse design in the world? You’ll have the chance to reflect on this on Wednesday, September 30, when artist Sarah Faith Gottesdiener, graphic design professor Daniela Marx, and designer Mindy Seu all share how they’ve used graphic design to “challenge the status quo.”

When: Wednesday, September 30, 7pm (PDT) 
Where: Zoom

More info at REDCAT 

Elisa Wouk Almino is a senior editor at Hyperallergic. She is based in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

One reply on “Addressing the Lack of Diversity in Graphic Design”

  1. Why not just make available scholarships to Black designers who show potential? (notice I did not say “young”)

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