I’m Black and I’m Proud by Nicolette Francis

Day 9 — Poster posted on February 8, 2024

Nicolette Francis

Pronouns: she/her

Located: New York, NY

Tell us about yourself:

Nicolette Francis, the sole owner of Daculture, is a NYC based multidisciplinary designer. Her work focuses on social change by uplifting and empowering the BIPOC community. She uses creative direction, illustration, film, product & graphic design to express the mission of Daculture. She believes in the transformative power of creativity to challenge stereotypes, shift perspectives, and create positive change. She is dedicated to telling authentic stories that accurately represent the experiences and perspectives of these communities. Her work is grounded in a deep respect for cultural heritage and a commitment to honoring the richness and diversity of BIPOC cultures. At Daculture, Nicolette is committed to using our work to build bridges, foster understanding, and create a more connected and equitable world.

What is the inspiration behind your poster design?

The color given to me was yellow and thinking about the importance of yellow and shades of gold inspired this work. I wanted to highlight one aspect of Black culture and its ties to gold. That tie would be grillz or teeth jewelry that has been frowned upon or labeled “ghetto” by others. Jewelry, innovation, creativity, and style is engraved in our dna and we can and should be proud of it, no matter how we decide to express it.

Why do you love being creative?

Being creative is a way for me to share my experience and voice with people who not only understand and share my story, but also those who want to learn about design through the eyes of a Afro-Latina woman. I love being able to connect with others in design. To share ideas and build with like-minded and incredibly talented people. Designing is the gift that allows me to speak without uttering a single word.

Tell us about your experiences in the design world…

In 2014, my journey toward becoming a professional graphic designer commenced at the esteemed Pratt Institute. Here, I delved into the foundational principles of design and explored the legacies of iconic figures who shaped the graphic design community—visionaries like Paul Rand, Massimo Vignelli, Michael Bierut, David Carson, Paula Scher, and others. However, amidst these celebrated names, a poignant question emerged: Where are the Black designers? The Latin designers? Those designers of color who have significantly contributed to design but regrettably remain absent from our art history books.

The creative industry, dominated primarily by white men, a few white women, and a meager percentage of BIPOC creatives, became the battleground we all aspired to enter. It was a realm where the faces didn’t mirror mine, where voices didn’t resonate with mine, and where my cultural background often felt overlooked. My uncertainty about my cultural identity and its impact on design lingered.

Throughout my undergraduate studies, self-doubt plagued me as I grappled with questions about my identity and the role of an Afro-Caribbean designer in America. Expressing myself authentically and infusing my work with my cultural essence proved to be a challenging endeavor.

In my nine years of immersion in the world of graphic design, I encountered only two Black art professors, with just one specializing in graphic design—Jim DeBarros, my mentor at Pratt Institute. Jim’s presence provided a rare sense of visibility in a space where relatability was scarce.

From the outset, my work has centered around showcasing the richness of the Black and Latino community, and even now, Jim DeBarros continues to champion and uplift me in environments lacking diversity. It’s a privilege not afforded to many other students of color who navigate spaces without such invaluable support.

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

We start with our audience. Programs, events, and books are just scratching the surface but how can we create real change? Finding a way to reach a larger audience and actively connect that audience with opportunities and creatives that can help develop a more inclusive design world.

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