We Shall Overcome by Danyelle Elysée

Day 2 — Poster posted on February 1, 2023

Danyelle Elysée

Pronouns: she/her
Located: New York, New York

Tell us about yourself:

A Harlem girl who stans Spike Lee, hasn’t stopped listening to Renaissance and loves everything black culture. Oh yeah, and a firm believer that Juice is the best movie of all time…argue with your mom.

What is the inspiration behind your poster design?

While deep diving into the history of the phrase “We Shall Overcome,” I discovered “Unite,” a screenprint by Barbara Jones-Hogu. Barbara Jones was a founding member of AfriCOBRA (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists), a Chicago-based organization of black artists started in 1968. The collective believed making and distributing art was a radical act. The typography and striking pose of the raised fists inspire a call to action and celebrate the power of community. It felt reminiscent of the Women’s March in 2017 when women from all over rallied in the name of gender and pay equality, LGBT and civil rights, affordable healthcare, and reproductive freedoms. I wanted to create this poster to encourage everyone to work towards these same goals, whether by donating to a GoFundMe or sharing verified information online, to continue producing the change we want to see.

Why do you love being creative?

Creativity is a special kind of magic. Using whatever medium or tools you have, you are creating something the world has never seen because it literally did not exist until you made it. I find great joy in creating something that has the potential to lift someone’s spirits or makes them laugh, or inspire them to take some action. I especially love creating moments specifically for people who love black pop culture.

Tell us about your experiences in the design world…

I did not think being a black woman designer in the design industry was a big deal until I once overheard a creative director explain the lack of diversity in the department by saying he did not know any black designers. Unfortunately, that sentiment has been a common theme in my career, where I have often been one of the few, if not the only, black creatives on a project. Simply put, these companies and agencies need to hire more black people. It is only through the varied life experiences and backgrounds that you produce exciting, dynamic, and engaging work that can impact culture. My Twitter feed alone can attest to that.

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

We need to create more opportunities for black expression to be present. Schools need to invest in their art programs to help train young creatives in black communities and make them aware of job opportunities using creative skills. Companies need to make sure they are regularly hiring these creatives as they bring fresh ideas and unique perspectives. Also, as black creatives, we need to share our experience and knowledge with those following behind so they know how to navigate the industry on an equal footing.

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

A game-changer would be dropping the degree requirements on job postings. In the year of our Lord 2023, you do not need a whole college degree, student loans included, to be a designer. With the internet, information that was exclusive to art school is now accessible to those who are unable to pursue higher education. As long as you can provide a solid portfolio and can do the work, I think you deserve a shot.

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