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Q&A

Q&A: Practicing Inclusivity in the Design Industry with People of Craft

by Kelli Kehler

One common excuse offered by someone challenged for featuring/hiring/promoting only white people is, “but I don’t know where to find people of color who do this same job.” The cycle of ignoring inclusivity then continues, swirling the same types of faces and individuals into the forefront of so many industries — including the creative industry.

and met and instantly connected through talking about this very issue, and their frustrations with the lack of inclusivity in the design industry. They teamed up quickly to launch a platform that showcases the work of people of color in the design industry, a now rapidly growing database called . Answering the oft used excuse of not being able to find individuals of color in various fields, Amélie and Timothy have created a central hub where talented people can be found across all creative fields — from designers to illustrators to writers and developers.

The name of the platform, People of Craft, is a play on words from the phrase “people of color,” Amélie says, and an affirmation of people not being defined by their race. She says, “It’s also a statement that’s meant to show that despite the stereotypes that the media may portray about people of color, we are all complex, talented, and interesting individuals with stories waiting to be told and heard.”

Highlighting and making visible the work of others is just the beginning for Amélie and Timothy, they share, but ripples of change are already forming from the impact of their platform. “A couple people who are in positions of leadership at companies told me that they found and hired people via the site,” Timothy tells us. Today the duo is shedding light on inclusivity, doing the work to uplift underrepresented groups, lessons learned in creating , and more. Bookmark to use for daily design inspiration, hire a creative individual, collaborate on a future project, and share the talented work being done across all mediums. —

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How did you two meet?

Timothy: We met at the WebVisions conference in 2016 in Chicago. We were both speaking at the conference, and we instantly bonded while talking about the imbalances and lack of inclusion in the design industry and at creative conferences.


Image above: Amélie Lamont and Timothy Goodman, founders of People of Craft.

We are all complex, talented, and interesting individuals with stories waiting to be told and heard." -Amélie Lamont

What does the name People of Craft mean to you both?

Amélie: It’s a play on words – people of color, people of craft. It means that being a person of color is only one aspect of a person’s multifaceted identity. It’s also a statement that’s meant to show that despite the stereotypes that the media may portray about people of color, we are all complex, talented, and interesting individuals with stories waiting to be told and heard.

Timothy: As artists and creatives, we are the gatekeepers to truth, so what are we going to do with that? How are we going to attempt to uplift our community so that more people have opportunity? We need to keep propelling and introducing more stories into our community.

In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting a platform like this?

Timothy: Why is there a lack of inclusion in the design world? Why aren’t these people being seen? Why aren’t there enough platforms that help? “Why” is the most important question when making anything, especially something like this.


Image above: “Lazarus,” a limited edition fine art giclee print by artist .

Even in the creative industry, where inclusivity appears to be on the rise, we see a lack of inclusion and representation of POC. Can you offer any insights into why people of color are so underrepresented?

Amélie: I would disagree and say that inclusivity is not on the rise, but diversity is.

Timothy: I agree with Amélie. From my point of view, I see curators of blogs, talks, podcasts, and publications being lazy too many times and resorting to the lowest common denominator: the same ol’ popular white dudes. I have to constantly call out those who ask me to speak at conferences for not having enough people of color — specifically black people — on the roster. I have to constantly turn down or threaten to pull out of many speaking gigs because of this. If we helped propel some of these people with the same narrative that we do those other people, then maybe we’d be in a better place with inclusivity. If more of those with influence made the effort to say “no, this isn’t good enough, who else is out there?” then maybe we’d be further along.

Does the creative industry have the power to change representation and inclusivity from within itself? How? And how can that be translated to a larger scale of wider circles?

Amélie: No, I don’t think the creative industry has the power to change representation and inclusivity from within itself because this is not an issue with industry, it’s an issue with society. As humans, I think we like to categorize things in order to make them easier to understand and tackle. But for something as important as inclusivity, I don’t think any industry that has traditionally closed itself off from these conversations will benefit from finding the answers from within itself.

This is a big issue to tackle, so I’d prefer to rely on the collective power of the individual standing up to make a difference. When we focus on the collective power of an individual, then we can start to see how that might translate into the collective force of a community, an industry, a society.

As an individual, you can start small. Who do your friends look like? Who do you surround yourself with? Who do you feel comfortable around the most? What do those people look like, dress like, think like? What are the automatic thoughts you have when encountering specific individuals and are they judgmental? Everyone has a bias, so being able to dig into whether those biases shape your world view and how you interact with others is important.

One small change, be it your actions or your awareness, brings us a little closer to the understanding that we all want to be seen and heard, no matter who you are.


Image above: Content creation by photographer and content manager for Gap.

What has been your biggest lesson learned so far?

Amélie I’d say the biggest lesson learned so far is that it’s important to challenge the assumptions that we make about ourselves and that others make about us. Challenging those assumptions doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re the loudest in the room or that you’re always speaking up. There are very quiet acts of resistance that we can take that have just as much impact. Be it through art, writing, coding, self-care, designing, photography, etc., you can create impact within your personal sphere of influence, in a way that feels right to you.

Timothy: For me personally, it’s the realization that I know I benefit from white supremacy, so it’s about asking myself tough questions like, what am I going to do with my privilege? Not just my privilege as a cis straight white man, but the privilege of being successful and having a platform with a large audience, too. Which also all ties into each other, obviously. More of us need to be challenging ourselves, doing better, and doing more.

What are your immediate and longterm goals for People of Craft?

Timothy: This site was created as a reaction, and we felt an urgency to get it up fast. We’ve just re-launched it with a new location feature, and added an additional 400 people to the site (now the site has close to 1,000 people). Eventually, we’d like to grow it to showcase new projects and events by members of the community and potentially hold our own event.

Amélie: One immediate goal includes increasing the categories for people to submit to. Longterm goals include setting up the site so that people can submit themselves and creating original content featuring various creators.


Image above: A work by illustrator that was completed for Airbnb.

What advice do you have for people looking to do their part to better their industries in regards to inclusivity?

Timothy: I always say, you don’t need to make work in order to do the work. You can make projects like the one Amélie and I made, but you also can challenge your audience on social media. You can call out friends or family who are being problematic in your life or online. You listen, read, learn and follow all sorts of amazing activists of color online. If you have power at a company, look around and ask if yourself if everyone looks like you and do something about it. This isn’t about giving people who are less talented jobs, this is about giving those that have the same (or even more) talent visibility. How can we begin to understand those who are marginalized if we’re not letting them be present in our lives?

How can we begin to understand those who are marginalized if we’re not letting them be present in our lives? -Timothy Goodman


Image above: Cover art for Fatimah Asghar’s book of poems, illustrated by for Penguin Random House.

Do you have any recommendations for people who'd like to support these artists, but aren't hiring?

Timothy: Follow them on social media. Use your platform to elevate them, if you can. If others are hiring, tell them about these artists. If you’re being hired by a company for a project, ask yourself if someone else is better suited for it.

What are your favorite sites and creative outlets at the moment?

Amélie: I’ve been pulling away from social media a lot more lately to focus on face-to-face, fulfilling interactions with people of color. The best way to describe it is that I often find that social media depletes me, while community fills me up with so much joy and love. That joy and love is what inspires me to continue creating not only for myself, but also for the communities that sustain me.

Timothy: I constantly use Instagram to share my own personal thoughts, feelings and stories —as well challenge my audience about a lot of these topics we’re talking about here. While I don’t use Twitter as much, I still use it to tweet about this stuff and follow and learn from many amazing activists and journalists.

What are ways our community can better support POC in our community?

Timothy: You can make projects like this, but you can also dismantle your privileges in other ways: calling out those who are being problematic, challenging your audience, using your platform to give visibility to others, etc.

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Comments

  • This is a fantastic resource. This especially resonates for me:
    “I see curators of blogs, talks, podcasts, and publications being lazy too many times and resorting to the lowest common denominator: the same ol’ popular white dudes. I have to constantly call out those who ask me to speak at conferences for not having enough people of color — specifically black people — on the roster. I have to constantly turn down or threaten to pull out of many speaking gigs because of this. If we helped propel some of these people with the same narrative that we do those other people, then maybe we’d be in a better place with inclusivity. If more of those with influence made the effort to say “no, this isn’t good enough, who else is out there?” then maybe we’d be further along.”
    I’m so tired of seeing a sea of cis white male faces presenting at conferences and it’s why I often don’t participate in mainstream design gatherings. Thank you.

    • LeAnn

      Yes yes yes. I hear you and agree 100%. I am so thankful for sites and people like this that speak up and stand up when platforms aren’t focused on inclusion and representation for all members of the creative community.

      Grace

  • I am SO thankful for resources like this. Late 2016/early 2017 I art directed some illustrations for a book and inclusivity was absolutely on my mind—I especially wanted to find native artists, which was extremely difficult. I spent hours upon hours searching, and ultimately I failed. At the very end of my search, womenwhodraw.com popped up, which I used right away (with non-white parameters) to find the last illustrator I needed. I hired two people of color for that job, but I wish I had been able to do more. I know it sounds like an excuse but identities aren’t always obvious when you’re hiring for someone’s creative work, rather than their appearance (like in TV/movies). I will absolutely be using People of Craft in the future.

    • Melissa

      I’m so happy to hear you were using WomenWhoDraw, that is an incredible resource and I appreciate that it also highlights artists who are LGBTQ+ identified. I hope between that and People of Craft they’ll continue to be sources you can use if you get the chance to hire people for projects :)

      Grace

  • Thank you Amélie and Timothy for creating this resource and thank you Design Sponge for publicizing it. I hire illustrators, letterers, photographers, and designers, and I will use People of Craft as well as share it with the art directors on staff.. I’m also grateful for Women Who Draw.

  • I have been complaining to my partner about the lack of diversity on social media sites that deal with design. I want to see diversity, I want to see how African Americans, Asian Americans, Mexican Americans, and people from all over the world differ in their styles and choices. I’m so sick and tired of seeing the same posts by similar people over and over. Make it divers and interesting.

    • Cici

      I could not agree more. I made this mistake for over a decade and regret it every day. We have a post coming up tomorrow about this topic, I hope it will start a conversation here with our readers and get people to stop, think, and better understand each other and why our community is stronger when we all feel seen, heard, and supported.

      Grace

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