Black Excellence by Chindo Nkenke-Smith

Day 24 — Poster posted on February 23, 2023

Chindo Nkenke-Smith

Pronouns: she/her
Located: Powder Springs, Georgia

Tell us about yourself:

I am a Creative Director, and Art Director with a penchant for providing brand elevations both on and off-screen. With a design approach that pulls influence from a background in visual merchandising and styling, my distinctive executions have opened the door for partnerships with corporate brands like Amazon and W.W. Norton and Company, coupled with partnerships for rising brands looking to establish themselves across digital platforms. Off-screen, I am a wife, mother, and architectural enthusiast, with an endless appetite for luxury interior design solutions.

What is the inspiration behind your poster design?

As the phrase Black Excellence started to get more popular on social media, I began to detest it because the images associated with the phrase didn’t feel inclusive. There was still a need to achieve a certain level of success that was rooted in what white people ultimately deemed successful. When I think of Black Excellence I think of my children, living, breathing, and playing. They don’t need to be or do more than exist to be excellent in my eyes. That’s the inspiration behind my poster design.

Why do you love being creative?

Being creative has allowed me to have full control over whatever it is I’m designing. That in itself brings me so much joy. Not having a traditional education in graphic design has allowed me to have a more open perspective towards design in general. I’ve learned some rules in the past 9 years that I’ve been in this field, and I believe it’s helped me refine my work, but I still carry a genuine love and curiosity to do and learn more. Most importantly, the fact that I can say that being creative pays my bills is really a blessing.

Tell us about your experiences in the design world…

So far, I’ve been very blessed and favored in my corner of the design world. Clients have always come to me with ease. Job opportunities have always come to me with ease. I’ve worked in Black-owned spaces, and worked with mostly Black and LatinX clients. I think the only challenges I constantly experience is figuring out how to value my work. At first, I was all about growing my skills and scaling up my rates, but now when it comes to small businesses, especially in this economy, I’m offering affordable, high-quality work.

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

We need more Black creatives speaking at these design conferences. It’s still rare to see more than 2 or 3 Black creatives speak at these conferences. There are too many talented Black creatives for us to be still so under represented. If I am wrong about my view, and we’re getting more representation on these panels, I would love to be educated about where. Until then, I love that we’re creating our own spaces, but we deserve so much more. Unfortunately, the tale is as old as time.

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

I don’t have a different answer than the one that I provided above.

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