Black Boy Joy by Micaiah Douglas

Day 19 — Poster posted on February 18, 2024

Micaiah Douglas

Pronouns: he/him
Located: London, England

Tell us about yourself:

I am a creative with a passion for visual storytelling. I believe that stories (and by extension the images we use to tell those stories) have the power to impart great wisdom, raise important questions and energise people to make change. I believe my role as an artist is to tell stories that people can connect to and resonate with. Particularly as it pertains to my people I am a proud black man with Jamaican and Guyanese heritage and I use art to explore my blackness and my culture. In the hopes that others like me feel seen.

What is the inspiration behind your poster design?

“Black boy joy” is a term used to celebrate and uplift the happiness, resilience, and positivity of young Black men and boys. It emphasizes the joy, creativity, and humanity of Black boys despite the challenges they may face due to racism, discrimination, and systemic inequalities.

At its heart lies the notion of freedom—the freedom to play, to express oneself authentically, and to revel in childhood innocence amidst societal pressures to mature prematurely.

As I reflected on this, I thought about the simple act of doodling in class. It’s a subtle rebellion, a choice to pursue joy and individual interests in defiance of external expectations. While not a call to abandon responsibilities, it symbolizes the empowering choice to embrace happiness and freedom. Similarly, graffiti embodies the essence of creative liberation and defiance, an unapologetic expression of identity amidst adversity.

Drawing inspiration from these forms of expression, this piece captures the essence of a boy immersed in the joy of creation. It’s about embracing one’s true self without regard for societal norms or expectations, choosing happiness above all else.

Why do you love being creative?

The ability to speak to people through my art is something I feel very empowered by. When I see a piece of mine resonate with someone and speak to that persons experience it makes me happy that they feel seen.

I love that I get to realize my imagination, seeing my goals and vision made manifest with every piece is a beautiful experience. Each piece presents new opportunities to grow to and as much as each piece develops and changes from a blank page to something meaningful, I as a creative grow alongside it as I learn and overcome those challenges.

I love connecting with other creatives and seeing there. That idea of ‘iron sharpens iron’. I feel I always become better after bouncing ideas off of one another and speaking with likeminded people and being part of a community.

Tell us about your experiences in the design world…

As someone relatively new to the design realm, my journey has been incredibly rewarding thus far. I’ve come to recognize the importance of networking, building meaningful relationships with like-minded creatives, and the significance of being visible and open in this space.

I’ve learned the value of proactive engagement and have begun to overcome any apprehension about fear of rejection professionally or interpersonally and stepping out of my comfort zone, I’ve seen my craft and relationships with others in the space improve.

Moreover, as a Black illustrator, I’ve realized the necessity of taking the initiative to carve out spaces for ourselves when none readily exist. This proactive approach is vital in ensuring representation and inclusion within the industry.

How can we create a more inclusive design world and ensure that Black people are represented?

Collaboration is key! I believe in us growing together, working on joint projects, pooling resources, starting companies together, creating our own table, and setting aside rugged individualism to grow as a unit and create spaces that are for us and by us.

In general… How can we make more equity or equality for us?

It starts with connection, reaching out to other artists like you and supporting each other, building community, and learning from one another. Collaboration is key, and when we work together, we will see growth and a sense of belonging that I don’t think can exist otherwise.

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