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Diversity in Design: James Howard

James Howard headshot

 James Howard

Software Engineer
Atlanta, GA


James Howard is an Atlanta native who studied Graphic Communications at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. James began his path in web design while attending NCA&T. Today James works as software engineer at Mailchimp.


1. Conversations surrounding racial diversity in the graphic arts community are not new. What is the overall benefit of diversifying the graphic art / design industry?

“The benefit of diversifying the design industry is getting different perspectives of what design is or what is appropriate design for different cultures. The world is a diverse place and every design can’t be created based on one point of view or from just one set group of people. Too many times we run across designs that can be controversial or offensive to people, whether it’s clothing design, print, or product design. Most of these problems could simply be resolved by having a diverse team make these decisions. Everyone doesn’t have the same point of view and it takes different minds to ensure that we are reaching everybody to the best of our ability.”

2. Black graphic artists / designers are often the only one of their kind in any one room at a time. What can we do to change the makeup of the graphic art / design community so it looks more like the world we live in?

“Ensure that we are reaching the youth at an early age and showing them the opportunities in the design field. Having career days, doing workshops, or having students shadow us on the job so they can see it for themselves and gain interest. One thing that is important to me is representation; it is always good for younger people to see someone who looks like them being successful in the world. Another thing we can do is share our experiences and give real world examples to students who are currently pursuing careers in design to help prepare them for the real world.”

3. Name a black graphic artist / designer other than yourself, living or deceased, that made an impact on your aesthetic or work style. How does that impact present itself in your work?

“Breon Williams, who worked as a lab assistant at my alma mater North Carolina A&T, made an impact on my aesthetic and work style especially in the area of Web Design. I remember first seeing his work when Myspace was popular and being amazed at how clean his designs were. When I would build websites and occasionally do logos, I would tend to look at his past work to get inspiration and also reach out to him for critiques. It seemed like everything that he designed for his company or the university was very clean and minimalist, and that’s usually how I try to keep my work. I consider Breon like my design big brother and a design mentor.”

Images © James Howard. Used with permission.