As the world continues to shed light on the long-fought war of the Black plight, it’s more important than ever before to support Black businesses.
And one of the mediums that Black people have had the most challenging time breaking into is art and design. The NY Times recently put together a piece exploring emerging and successful artists about their work and the struggles of getting recognition. First is Stephen Burks, who, while coming up in the art world, struggled to find someone to look up to.
What began with a furniture collection for Cappellini in 2000 grew to designing for Roche Bobois, Dedon, Missoni, Moroso, and more. However, he found that he was still the first Black person to work with these companies, which he says still doesn’t put enough onus on them.
“I was the only Black designer,” is how he explains it.
Next up is artist, speaker, and activist Malene Barnett who’s seen how the recent support for the Black Lives Matter movement effects artists. Black-owned artist studios are seeing more work than ever before, and the bigger, less diverse houses are pledging to hire more people of color.
She founded the Black Artists + Designers Guild in 2018 to “combat the lack of representation of Black talent and culture in the design industry.”
Barnett believes this is ultimately the first step in creating true inclusivity.
“I do think the moment is significant because it has woken up a group of people that have been sleeping for a long time,” said Barnett. “Ultimately, to change, the system has to be demolished and started from scratch. It’s time for everyone to figure out how to create a new foundation so we can build a society that supports people and is truly inclusive.”
You can check out the rest of the artist’s stories and work here.