How do you celebrate 300 episodes of dynamic conversations and thought-provoking opinions? You invite two leaders in the industry to sit down and dig even deeper!
We recorded this episode live in New York's Green Space with over 50 guests for an intimate and passionate discussion and Q+A with Gail Anderson and Catt Small. Gail and Catt have both had impressive journeys and continue to push the conversation around inclusivity and the future of design forward. Their insights into the industry and design academia are a must listen! If you're an aspiring designer or an experienced professional this is an episode you do not want to miss!
➡ Glitch is hiring a design director! Apply today!
This episode is sponsored by Sappi North America’s Ideas that Matter program—a grant competition that supports designers partnering with nonprofit organizations on social impact projects.
Since the start of the program 20 years ago, Sappi, a maker of high quality printing, packaging and release papers as well as dissolving wood pulp, has witnessed firsthand how the creative work of designers can change society. They remain committed to the belief that good ideas inspire people to take action, and great ideas can change the world.
If you’d like to submit a project you care about, the 2019 deadline to apply for a grant is July 19. To learn more about the program, visit sappi.com/ideas-that-matter.
This episode is brought to you by Abstract: design workflow management for modern design teams.
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Revision Path is a Glitch Media Network podcast, and is produced by Deanna Testa and edited by Brittani Brown.
Anil Dash: All right, good evening everybody, welcome. Thank you for coming out. My name is Anil Dash, I'm the CEO at Glitch. This is a special night. I'm so pleased to see so many of you here. Especially going out in New York while it's still daylight out. That is showing love. We really appreciate it. One of the reasons that this is so special is because Revision Path is so special.
Anil Dash: How many of you have been listeners of Revision Path here or subscribe to the Podcast on your phones? A lot of hands.
Anil Dash: I want to give you a little bit of background about where it comes from, because it comes from a person. It comes from Maurice Cherry. I want to tell you a little bit about Maurice before we start the evening.
Anil Dash: Maurice and I are like OG's on social media. We both have been doing this for almost twenty years, and we crossed paths in the early days when he had created the late great Black Weblog awards. It was one of the first platforms to center and amplify Black voices and recognize Black voices in social media. It was revelatory and necessary and important, and it helped change how people saw the media itself. A lot of deserving recognition came out of that, and we stayed in touch after that. It's been a joy many years later to get to work with Maurice on a proper basis.
Anil Dash: One of the most important reasons why we reconnected, and why I had stayed such a fan, was seeing what he built with Revision Path. For those of you that don't know, or folks are new or you don't know the background, what we are celebrating with Revision Path reaching three hundred episodes today is a platform that has again centered and amplified Black voices, specifically Black designers in every discipline. Every field that design is connected to, over and over and over again. Week in, week out.
Anil Dash: One of the things you'll see, as you were coming in, you saw all the faces and the names and the numbers of the episodes they were on there. I was just backstage with Maurice and I wanted to tell you all what I saw, which was every single one of those folks, he said, "Oh, Paul is in this neighborhood, this is what he's doing." Every single one of these. "Oh, Dee, this is what she's doing and she used to have this other job and 3 years ago she moved over to here." I mean, it was shoe size, and complete LinkedIn history of every single one of these people.
Anil Dash: All of you know, there are people who talk about amplifying things. There are people that talk about, "I'm going to have people on my show." But to know the history, the story, the life, the work, of three hundred people whose voices have been amplified, I think that is a testament both to Maurice's dedication, but also to the love of everybody who is a Revision Path listener, who has been part of the community, who has come out tonight.
Anil Dash: So, thank you all for being here, and probably the most exciting part I'm going to get to do tonight is to introduce somebody that I get the pleasure of working with almost every day. That is somebody I hope you will all join me in welcoming, Maurice Cherry.
Maurice Cherry: Hi everybody.
Maurice Cherry: I see some familiar faces out here. I know you, I know you.
Maurice Cherry: Thanks for coming out.
Maurice Cherry: So, yeah. Three hundred episodes. This is really a huge accomplishment. You can tell the faces you see back here are maybe the first twenty, thirty or so interviews that I ever did. So, I wanted to sort of keep this as a reminder that it's not about me, it's about the people. It's about the design industry, and the black people in the design industry. So, let's introduce our panelists.
Maurice Cherry: First up, the interminable, National Design Award Winning, Gail Anderson.
Maurice Cherry: Also, Catt Small is next.
Maurice Cherry: Thank you.
Maurice Cherry: Unfortunately, Eddie O'Hara is super sick right now, so he can't make it. Feel free to make an audible Aw from the audience so he can hear it at home. But, hopefully, he will be tuning in.
Maurice Cherry: So, we're just going to have a good old sit down conversation. So, let's do it.
Gail Anderson: Hi.
Catt Small: Good Evening.
Maurice Cherry: Hi, how's it going? It's good to see both of you.
Maurice Cherry: Can you all hear me?
Maurice Cherry: Okay, all right.
Maurice Cherry: It's good to see both of you again.
Catt Small: Yes.
Gail Anderson: Yes.
Maurice Cherry: Just so you all know, I do have questions on my phone. This does not mean that I'm not prepared, it just means that they're on my phone.
Gail Anderson: I will first ask you, though, three hundred?
Maurice Cherry: Yeah.
Gail Anderson: Really, how did you keep this going?
Maurice Cherry: Well, technically, as of this week it is three hundred and one.
Gail Anderson: Nice.
Maurice Cherry: So, we have bonus episodes that we've done.
Gail Anderson: So how do you keep anything going that long? How do you exercise, how do you keep this going?
Maurice Cherry: It's really about consistency.
Gail Anderson: Obviously.
Maurice Cherry: For me, it's about creating systems to automate most things. It's also about outsourcing things when you can.
Maurice Cherry: I mean, don't get me wrong, the first days I was doing everything. And then by the time, before coming to Glitch, it was, this person did this, this person did that, and then we all just kind of came together. Then just planning for the rest.
Maurice Cherry: Like, I know Christmas happens every year. So, we need to get together our gift guide 3 months in advance so that we can be ready when Christmas comes. It's that sort of thing.
Gail Anderson: No, it's not, it's more than that.
Maurice Cherry: It's planning, it's consistency, it's outsourcing. It's really just being vigilant.
Maurice Cherry: If I didn't love this, I wouldn't keep doing it. So of course, having love for it is a big part of it as well.
Gail Anderson: Don't you ever run out of black people after a while?
Maurice Cherry: You would be surprised how many of us there are.
Maurice Cherry: I still have a running list of probably close to a thousand people that I can reach out to and just make.
Maurice Cherry: I don't want to say make it happen like it's an automatic thing, but I do have people that I can reach out to worldwide that can come on the show.
Maurice Cherry: It's been good.
Catt Small: So, thousandth episode party?
Maurice Cherry: I mean, if we get that far, I'm all for it. I'm all for it.
Gail Anderson: Five hundred.
Catt Small: Yeah, let's start with that.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah, I'll start with that, I'll start with five hundred, all right.
Maurice Cherry: What have both of you been up to?
Maurice Cherry: I know that both of you were on the show in 2017 at different times. What have you all been up to since the show?
Gail Anderson: Well, I'm the Creative Director of Visual Arts Press at the School of Visual Arts, which is sort of the in-house design studio. I'll be moving out of that role on August 1st, and will become Chair of the BFA Advertising and BFA Design Departments at SVA. I will be replacing Richard Wilde, who has been Chair for fifty years.
Catt Small: I'm so happy, because I went to SVA too.
Gail Anderson: Oh, okay.
Catt Small: So I'm like, "Aaaah!"
Catt Small: I remember all of this. I'm so proud.
Gail Anderson: Yes. Richard is retiring after fifty years.
Gail Anderson: I am in that shadow and following in those footsteps and all of those things. So, big life change.
Maurice Cherry: Nice.
Gail Anderson: Close to a thousand students.
Maurice Cherry: That's a lot of faces to remember.
Gail Anderson: Yeah, it's a lot of, "Hey, you, how you doing?"
Catt Small: A lot of designs to critique.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah.
Maurice Cherry: Congratulations.
Maurice Cherry: Catt, what about you?
Gail Anderson: Yeah, what have you been doing?
Catt Small: It's been some time.
Catt Small: I feel like during the last time that we talked, I probably talked about a couple things which was the Game Developers Expo and then the game that I was working on, and I finally released it after 5 years of work. So, that was amazing.
Maurice Cherry: What's the name of the game?
Catt Small: It's called SweetXHeart. It has an X between sweet and heart because it's kind of like, "No, I'm not your sweetheart." It's about cat calling, and moving between different spaces as a black woman who works in technology, is a designer, a creative person who lives in the Bronx. Really exploring race, gender and microaggressions and what it means.
Maurice Cherry: Where in the Bronx?
Catt Small: So, I grew up in the Norwood area, and then I moved to it's called Williamsbridge, like the two hundred.
Maurice Cherry: Okay.
Gail Anderson: I grew up at the end of the 5 train.
Catt Small: Oh, I see. So yeah, 219th Street is where I lived when I was a teen.
Gail Anderson: East 233rd for me.
Catt Small: I see you.
Catt Small: This is great. We have the SVA thing, we have the Bronx thing.
Gail Anderson: Yeah, where did you go to high school?
Catt Small: I went to La Guardia.
Gail Anderson: I went to Cardinal Spellman.
Catt Small: Oh, I see you. Okay. Yeah.
Catt Small: So, other than that, I work at Etsy. I've been at Etsy going closer to 3 years, which is the longest time I've ever worked at a tech company. It's been cool to get that depth of knowledge about a product at this point.
Maurice Cherry: Nice.
Maurice Cherry: So, I really want to talk to both of you about design education.
Maurice Cherry: Of course, Gail, you've been at SVA for a long time, and now rising to this position. And I want to talk to you Catt because I think the work that you do ends up inspiring and teaching a lot of people.
Maurice Cherry: You've done a skills share class, right?
Catt Small: Yeah. That was fun. I also did that!
Maurice Cherry: Yeah, you did a skill share class, that's right.
Catt Small: It's like an onion layer of stuff.
Maurice Cherry: I'd love to talk about the state of design education. Where do you both see it, in this current state?
Gail Anderson: I see it as you. As your generation, and your interests, and the world being at your fingertips. How do I encourage you, and how do I keep you interested and keep you growing. You guys get to create the product and not just put a skin on the product or decorate the product, and that's so exciting.
Catt Small: Yeah, it's really interesting to be a designer now, because so many places that I work now are very much like, "How do we integrate design earlier," and get designers involved with actually thinking about business strategy. I have definitely started when I can to advocate for conversations around ethics and I'm really interested in ways that we can continue to teach that as a thought practice.
Catt Small: I also think in general, making design more accessible has been really cool, because not everyone can afford to go to SVA although it is a great school and you get to connect with a lot of really interesting people. That is definitely a privileged. The more that we can start connecting people to mentors and have more online schooling, more non-profit classes that do give people access to the spaces that we're in, that really prepare them also for what they are going to enter. I think the better, hopefully, things will continue to get.
Maurice Cherry: Do you see more of design education still being rooted in a traditional 4 year [inaudible 00:12:40] type of program, or do you see it more going online?
Gail Anderson: I'm not sure about the online part yet.
Maurice Cherry: Okay, why is that?
Gail Anderson: I feel like you need the 1 on 1 critique to gauge someone's tone of voice. To have that nervous moment when your work is spoken of in front of your classmates, or when you have to defend your work in front of other people, because you're going to have to do that in real life.
Gail Anderson: So, for design I'm not quite sure. Maybe some courses can have an online component, but for me it's still about getting shy students to have the confidence to speak. It's built in for so many, and not built in for so many more.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah.
Catt Small: Yeah. I think that the thing that is hard is that you can do a lot of self study. But at the same time, like you are saying, if you don't have that actual human interaction, which you can kind of get if you have comments and stuff like that. Like, skill share has commenting which can be helpful for critique but it's not the same as having someone actually test something that you're working on. So if you do end up going that route, you'd really have to force yourself to go out and test your work with lots of random people, which is different than having a curated environment where people are taught how to give critique and get to actually learn how to communicate with each other in this safer space.
Maurice Cherry: Do you think things like video chat help to bridge that gap?
Catt Small: I think that could be a cool mid point, where it still makes it accessible to people who either can't physically be at these schools or maybe don't have the funds, but it's still again creates that space where people can have those more intimate conversations. Yeah, I think if more online schools started having those actual gatherings for people, I could see that being a great way to have it be better for everyone.
Gail Anderson: The low-res programs that are offered in the grad departments at SVA have the component of meeting in the summer or at some point during the time that you are in school. So, while most of it is online or out there separately, you do have these moments when you are together, and I think that is really important.
Gail Anderson: Although, I know it is so difficult for so many people to have to spend the money to find the housing, to put life on hold. At least in the low-res situation, it's for a short period.
Maurice Cherry: One of the people I had on the show probably last year, maybe before then, what Cheryl D. Miller who I think you are familiar with.
Maurice Cherry: She is episode 248. Something like that.
Maurice Cherry: So Cheryl D. Miller, when she was a graduate student at Pratt Institute which is here in New York City, she wrote this entire thesis about black designers transcending the problems to become successful in the industry and a lot of it did have to do with the financial hit that had to come with just going to school and getting a degree and things like that.
Maurice Cherry: I even interviewed someone today whom they had a graphic design degree from undergrad, maybe in the late 90's or early 2000's. Still worked, did a bunch of work in the industry. Did work, started their own business and everything, but still went back to school, because they felt like they needed to have that Master's degree to validate the years of experience of work that they'd already done, which I thought was really interesting.
Gail Anderson: I've done some work at High School of Art and Design here in New York City, and we're working with kids who in some cases may not go farther than the high school experience for getting in as much design preparation as possible, and will be leaving there to go out and get a job right after. They might not have the opportunity to invest in the New York City art school experience, so it's the range of people looking at grad school and post-grad now, and somebody who has to be ready right out of high school.
Maurice Cherry: Given what we have discussed, what changes would you like to see in how design education is taught and also administered?
Gail Anderson: Making me work now. [crosstalk 00:17:52]
Maurice Cherry: This is about to be what you're doing.
Gail Anderson: No, I know.
Gail Anderson: Help.
Gail Anderson: The experience here is a very international one. Where, when I was in school so many years before many of you were born, it was a very local bridge and tunnel experience. You come to a school here, in my case SVA, you're going to have this huge experience of meeting people from around the world. We have to find a way to accommodate the needs of those students even better, and to be able to help students who are struggling academically and financially to get through school, because it's such an investment. Where, it was an investment for me as a kid from the Bronx coming to SVA, but now, an art school education at any of the schools here is a lot of loans.
Gail Anderson: Fortunately, on the other end, there are jobs and students will graduate and do quite well. It's so reassuring now to meet parents and be able to tell them, "Johnny's going to do okay."
Gail Anderson: When they're graduating, to meet them at commencement and to tell parents, "You have a really great kid." That's the first thing that they swell with pride. If they know that this wonderful child of theirs is going to be okay and can move out of the house, where that was a lot trickier in the early 80's. For me it was, "What are you going to do?" And the starting salaries, I started my first job at fourteen thousand dollars. I know it's a long time ago, before you were born and all that, but that was nothing. [crosstalk 00:20:05]
Gail Anderson: I remember my dad sitting out front and he was just like, "What?" I just saw him thinking, "She's going to be here forever, she's never leaving." And I was like, "No, no, it will get better." Luckily it did, but it didn't have to, and for many people it didn't. For many people they went off and did other stuff. I've been really lucky.
Maurice Cherry: I think there's still that whole starving artist concept that unfortunately.
Gail Anderson: Less so, less so.
Maurice Cherry: You think so?
Gail Anderson: A little less so.
Maurice Cherry: Well that's good.
Gail Anderson: Because they see you guys go off and go to companies that they're familiar with.
Catt Small: I think that what's interesting is I remember when I was applying, I only applied to SVA to be honest.
Gail Anderson: That's what I did as well.
Catt Small: Yeah, I was like, "This is the 1 school I'm going to." My parents were like, "What are you doing?" And, I told them, "I know that design is going to earn me money." At that point I'd had some really low fidelity internships, wink, weird. With this company or a person ran this agency and so I had worked with her and understood that design was a way to earn money. We did a bunch of pitches and she and the rest of us were really actually getting to work with really big clients and I knew that because of that, design was a thing that I could do to earn money as an income. So, I had to convince my parents. But, after I went through the first year or so, it was very easy to actually get paid internships and there was a clear path forward, and that was really awesome.
Catt Small: The thing that was interesting at the time is that there wasn't a digital design focus yet, because I went right around the time that the iPhone came out, and Smartphones were becoming more of a thing. I think at the time in the graphic design program there was 1 web development, web design class, and I finished all the homework in the first week. Then I spent the rest of the time fiddling around, but it was still like, "What is this?" So, I had to figure out a lot of that by myself. Now, the nice thing is that the digital and product design are much more integrated user experiences, like a full on focus now for a lot of schools. I definitely think again, thinking about a designer's impact, and figuring out how to make sure people aren't just doing design work. It is great, for example, to be able to work at Etsy and impact millions of people, but that means I need to really strongly consider what I'm doing and make sure that I'm actually creating work that is impacting people in a positive way for them, not just for the businesses that I'm designing for. The more that we can get people to really consider what the impact of their work actually will be, the better we're going to be as a focus.
Gail Anderson: When I was in school at SVA, just to contrast, in my last year, they were getting their first computers. Not their first iPhones. It was like, "Should I take that class? Nah. I'll never have to worry about that."
Gail Anderson: Who knew.
Catt Small: Progress.
Gail Anderson: Yeah.
Gail Anderson: I was wrong.
Maurice Cherry: This is a night about success. All the people here and we're talking about three hundred episodes and everything, that's great.
Maurice Cherry: Let's talk about failure.
Catt Small: Oh, yeah.
Maurice Cherry: Certainly as any designer knows, as any black designer knows, there are ebbs and flows in the career. Sometimes things are going great, sometimes it's not. When it rains, it pours, et cetera.
Maurice Cherry: Talk to me about one of your biggest failures and how you worked through it.
Gail Anderson: Bringing me down, man.
Maurice Cherry: Anyone can start.
Catt Small: I'll say that something that was interesting was working at SoundCloud right around. I don't know if anyone read, there was a Buzzfeed article that came out a couple of years ago around SoundCloud and what happened to it. For those of you that don't know, SoundCloud is a platform where people can upload their own music or sounds of any kind. So Revision Path is on there, which is super cool, and was one of the ways that I found out about it and subscribed to it initially. I was actually hired to help them create this subscription service and figure out how to be a profitable company, because they had a creator focused posting subscription service, but that wasn't actually contrasting enough financially with the amount of fees that they had to pay to Warner Music and all the other music labels.
Catt Small: So, something that I learned while I was there was just how hard it can be, and why it is important for a design, for example, to be embedded with product in a way where product and design impact each other. So, there were a lot of times where we were trying to figure out how to actually give user research feedback to the product team and to the CTO and basically we were hearing quite often listeners don't want this paid subscription service. It was really, really tough and challenging for me to be in that situation where initially I was really excited and like, "Yeah, we're going to change the world," and "We're going to make this company profitable," and then just learning over time that this isn't what people want at all, and the things we want to provide them we maybe don't have the right people to build those things right now. We need another several years. So, being a part of that rise and then that fall was really intense. We ended up releasing what was called SoundCloud Go, and then numbers were not great, to be frank. The numbers were not great at all.
Catt Small: I was not part of the layoffs that happened after it because I had left a couple of months before that happened. But, they laid off a bunch of people and it was just like, this is what happens when you don't listen to the people who are using your product and really make sure that you center the work that you're creating around them and what actually interests them.
Catt Small: So, now I think a lot about business models and I've very much like, "How are you going to grow as a company?" How can we make sure that the work that we're doing is actually for people and not just so that we can say that we did something?
Gail Anderson: Wow.
Gail Anderson: I don't know if it's failure, but I know I was at my most vulnerable and felt like I couldn't do my job even on cruise control, coasting through it, towards the end of my tenure at Spot Co, which is the company that was then owned by one of my classmates, Drew Hodges. I was Creative Director of Design. Wonderful theater posters and campaigns for Broadway, and it was a great almost decade that I spent there. The last year was plugging too many holes and this wall of water cascading towards me that was dealing with 2 elderly parents. Their declining and then failing health, and how to navigate that with my siblings while working full time and teaching and doing freelance.
Gail Anderson: Trying to juggle it all, and being the child at the greatest distance from where my folks had been living in their retirement community, called Leisure town. Just trying to juggle all of that at once was a whole different struggle than anything I've had career wise to that point, and have had since. Knowing that I wasn't doing my job as well as I could anymore and I needed to step away and spend some time figuring out the senior stuff.
Gail Anderson: Figuring out the senior stuff, and so that was a difficult time that I think I was still doing good work-
Maurice Cherry: Mm-hmm.
Gail Anderson: ... but not great work and not.. and had nothing left for it because of all the other stuff. And so to come out on the other end of that, no longer having the parents alive, so there's that. But just be able to look back now a few years later and think, "God, that was I was trying to power through this thing that was impossible." And just between brother and sister and myself, all that goes with taking care of elderly parents those last years and months and all that, it's just unbelievable. And the failure for me is that I didn't leave sooner to be of more help-
Maurice Cherry: Mm-hmm.
Gail Anderson: ... but the successes is that I did have the time that I was able to spend just focused on that, and work but that.
Maurice Cherry: Mm-hmm. I'll share mine so I don't just leave y'all [crosstalk 00:30:28]
Gail Anderson: Top that!
Maurice Cherry: I can't, I mean, we're not topping tragedies.
Gail Anderson: I got dead parents, so what do you have?
Maurice Cherry: So for me it was probably like 2016, 2017. Of course, Revision Path was still going. It was doing great, but my studio work was like declining sharply, to the point where even though people have been referred to me and they're like, "Oh, you do all this great work, you won these awards, blah blah blah," it was still like, "But I could go get this done for $8 at Squarespace." I was still like competing with site builders this far into my career, this many accolades. And it's like, "What is happening? Like is it a PR thing? I'm not understanding why the work that I've done in the class I've had, like the testimonials are not equating into me getting more work, getting meaningful work, et cetera. Even with speaking and the podcasts and everything."
Maurice Cherry: And so I started looking for work because I was like, "I don't know if I really want to do the studio thing anymore." My parents were never a fan of it. They were never a fan of me doing my own thing. They like, "You'd get a good government job with benefits and all that." So it was never something that they were fanatic about. They were glad that I was able to pay rent, but then it was sort of like, "Well, how long is going on?
Gail Anderson: Mm-hmm.
Maurice Cherry: ... You can't do this forever." That sort of thing. Parents!
Catt Small: Yay.
Maurice Cherry: So I started looking for a job. I mean, I looked for a job for the better part of a year, just sending out resumes for everything from junior designer to creative director, just like a shotgun approach. Whatever will hit. And I remember I did this one interview... ironically I can laugh at it now, but I did this interview with a circus.
Catt Small: Is this an allegory?
Maurice Cherry: I'm not going to pick out a name of the circus, but they're headquartered in Atlanta, so you should be able to figured out. But I did a interview with a circus for a, I don't know, it was like a design position of some sort. And they were like, "Oh, well we really like-
Gail Anderson: Lion tamer.
Maurice Cherry: They were like, "Yeah we really like... I mean, hey, we really like your resume, we love the work that you're doing." And they had heard of the podcast and everything and like, "Oh yeah this is great wonderful." But did the interview, everything was going great, they're like, "We're looking for an app. What do you do about app development?" I was like, "Nothing, because I'm a designer." "Oh well we really need an app. Can you help us with a app? Can you make a app? We're looking for a app?" I don't do app development. I'm not a mobile developer. I don't do that. "Oh, because that's what we're really looking for." I was like, "Well, if you're looking for a app developer, why would you say you need a designer?" And to them it was just like,
Gail Anderson: It's all the same?
Maurice Cherry: Right, like what's the difference? And I'm like, "Why the fuck am I even siting here in this chair, with all this bull? And like I didn't go back after that.
Catt Small: Slams desk.
Maurice Cherry: Ironically, they offered me the job and I didn't take it, because why the fuck would I be doing app development for a circus? I mean it was at a low point where I was like, "What am I doing? I've been doing all this work, I've been getting these accolades and things were going great, and it's not equating. It's not hitting for some reason." And oh, that was a low point. I mean I shut my studio down sort of in the end of December. Revision Path was doing doing well enough for me to subsist off of. This is not a humble brag, but it was doing well enough for me to pay my rent and everything, so I was like, "Cool."
Maurice Cherry: But I was feeling like I failed in my studio, because the work was decreasing. People would have heard of me, but then they don't want to pay me, or they want to pay you like pennies on the dollar. It was just like, "Why? I know that my peers are not having to deal with this. I know that other people I know they're at they're just at this other not having to deal with this. It's like what is going on?"
Maurice Cherry: And I got a job, so I shut my studio down. So I mean I don't mean that to say that that is what solved the failure, but that's kind of how I got through. It was just like, "Let me just take a step back for a little bit, and see what else is out there." But yeah.
Gail Anderson: The working on your own part, I know for me after Spot, there was a period where I was taking care of the folks with my siblings, and working independently like that.
Maurice Cherry: Mm-hmm.
Gail Anderson: My folks, even with dementia for one, cancer for the other, they were still like, "What are you doing? Have you lost your mind?" I was like, "Oh, look who's back."
Maurice Cherry: Yeah, Look who's back.
Gail Anderson: "Get a job!"
Catt Small: So all this risk. I don't know what it's like to take risk. But my parents, they just hate it. Like the concept of risk is-
Gail Anderson: Of course.
Catt Small: ... not there. You can't fail.
Gail Anderson: No.
Maurice Cherry: I feel like parents want you to be safe. I get that intrinsic like maternal, paternal, "We want you to do well and not have any obstacles." But then it's also like, "I'm an adult. This is going to happen." So, yeah. Didn't mean to bring the room down with that. Let's bring it back up. So given all of that, like the harshest that both of you have faced... even when I was talking about like, where do you pull strength from when those things happen?
Gail Anderson: A lot of therapy.
Catt Small: Therapy is the way. It is the way forward sometimes. Deep within the whole SoundCloud experience that I mentioned. I felt like I was responsible in some way, because I was like kind of hired to like run this, to help make the company profitable. And that obviously wasn't a thing I could do, and so I had a lot of time where I was talking to a therapist and that was really valuable for sure. I highly recommend that in those moments because you... there are times where you just can't by yourself. You can't do everything by yourself, and I think that was generally something that I... that's something I'm still learning but I've continuously been relearning that forever.
Maurice Cherry: Mm-hmm.
Catt Small: I worked on this game for five years. I should have definitely leaned on other people sooner. I do way too much all the time, and it's because I definitely feel this pressure to consistently just be a strong person. But the more that I've gotten used to being vulnerable and expressing my feelings with other people and really talking about where I am in my life, that's definitely helped. So it's funny because in a lot of ways, the strength comes from being vulnerable with people.
Gail Anderson: Asking for help.
Catt Small: Yeah, like leaning on other people, or at least like just sharing how you actually feel is really valuable.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah. Let's see, I don't think my mentor is here. No, I don't see him. I vented to him a lot. I was like, "Why is this happening to me?" And he's like, "Talkspace.com. You need to look into that." No I mean, no, but definitely the thing being able to talk it out certainly is a really effective way, I think, of trying to get through it. What about you Gail? Like when that was happening with you, where did you-
Gail Anderson: As I said, it was a lot of therapy. Knowing that I can talk to my friends. They've got their own stuff, so I can't burden them with that. Something that I've learned as I've gotten older too is to ask for help, to delegate, to trust people to do their jobs and step in if there are problems, and encourage them and push them up the hill and all that, but to not feel like the only one who can do it is me, and to be able to to delegate, and be really excited to watch people that you've taught kind of bloom and go off and do amazing things. And you end up working for them, and stuff like that.
Maurice Cherry: I'd like each of you to ask each other a question.
Gail Anderson: Well, I already asked you a question.
Maurice Cherry: I get a little break. I know you have been briefly acquainted back stage, but. What's a question you would like to get some insight on from the other panelist?
Gail Anderson: For you, because you're so young, and perky, and smart, and all that, and oh my God, that's so-
Catt Small: Like a puppy.
Gail Anderson: Like a puppy, yeah. That's so cool. The sky's the limit for you, and that's so cool. What happens next?
Catt Small: Oh God. I mean I think the thing I'm trying to figure out right now a lot is... I've been working in design for about 10 years at this point, and-
Gail Anderson: It sounds like twenty.
Catt Small: ...I'm kind of thinking.
Gail Anderson: [crosstalk 00:39:44] stuff that you've done.
Catt Small: I know, I'm telling you like I just do too much-
Gail Anderson: No, that's impressive.
Catt Small: ... all at the same time. And, I think a lot about do I want to continue to do individual contributor stuff? What does it mean to get to a point where you are past quote unquote senior as is defined by a lot of places's career ladders. What does that mean? Does it mean management? What is possible out there? So I'm thinking a lot about that these days and what I like cause I love growing people. It's just I don't really like the idea of fighting with HR, for example, and having to deal with all that mess.
Maurice Cherry: Mm-hmm.
Gail Anderson: Mm-hmm.
Catt Small: That seems like a whole thing.
Gail Anderson: Oh, it's a thing.
Catt Small: Yeah, it's just I'm not interested right now. So yeah, figuring out what growth means for a person who's still more hands on with the work, but maybe is still in a leadership role-
Gail Anderson: Mm-hmm.
Catt Small: ... and I think that's huge.
Gail Anderson: It sounds like you have the best of both worlds right now.
Catt Small: Yeah, that's the jam. Like seeing how long I can do that.
Gail Anderson: Yeah, that sounds good to me.
Catt Small: I think, yeah. For you, I am so curious about the education space, and what it means to grow people in that way. Especially like, how did you get to where you are now in terms of you're about to take on this huge, amazing role.
Gail Anderson: Well, I've been teaching for 28 years.
Catt Small: Mm-hmm.
Gail Anderson: So I started teaching a few years out of school in continuing Ed at SVA, and then undergrad, and then grad, and free college, and one class a year for most of my career. Because it felt like I'd had such amazing people, and it sounds so corny, but I had such great mentors in school, and it felt like this is something I should be doing. And as it turned out, I learned to become a good art director from teaching and critiquing work, and learned to be comfortable speaking in public as a young designer who was the age of the students at the time by teaching.
Gail Anderson: So there was so much that I got back from it, and as I got older, learning to be in touch with what younger students are interested in and early on what they read magazine wise, and now that sort of moot, but what they look at some of stuff that you're talking about now, it's like sort of taking all that in. And so the progression to this new position was certainly not planned, and is definitely unexpected, and scary because it's like really diving in now. And feeling responsible for these young lives, and in a lot of ways in the beginnings of their careers, and being on the constant search for people who want to teach.
Maurice Cherry: She's looking.
Gail Anderson: So, there's that I literally am looking, so please get in touch. It's been so nice over the 30 something years I've been working to have this sort of every decade or so have a new challenge. And so you want to remain sort of scared and challenged every now, and then to dig in and do really well at what you're doing and then take a turn and do something different, and then take another turn. And it'll keep you fresh, it'll keep you young and you'll always kind of be a little scared, which is a good thing. And then you'll start to coast-
Catt Small: Mm-hmm.
Gail Anderson: And then you're like, "This is kind of cool. I can coast for a while. And then you're like, "Oh no, I can't coast. I think I got to do something else."
Catt Small: Yeah, I'm super curious about how you balance, like the thing that's hard for me is I've done ad hoc teaching classes before, where it's like maybe a couple weeks worth of teaching, and then I was destroyed by the end.
Gail Anderson: Uh-huh.
Catt Small: How to balance that all?
Gail Anderson: Yes, it [inaudible 00:43:46] destroy you. You just keep going back-
Catt Small: Mm-hmm.
Gail Anderson: ... and you have those moments of some person you didn't expect who really surprises you, or somebody who makes this leap from being sort of not that great to being better and just these little moments. And again, to see someone go off and do so well and feel like you may have had something to do with that is... it keeps you coming back. It also keeps you cursing them out a lot too, but for the most part... at this stage, at this age, it's sort of a nice transition to doing something else. And who knew? So I've been fortunate that things have popped up over the years without my like doing this big search for them, and they've always been things that's like, "If I don't do this, like I'm going to feel like, ah." You know? "I got to at least try it."
Catt Small: Yeah, I know that feeling.
Gail Anderson: And in this case to know that I'm at an institution that I've got the support of people I've known for a really long time who were like, "I got your back," so I shouldn't really fail the assignment... come back with another failure story, my untimely demise instead of my parents. But yeah, I gotta take another chance again.
Catt Small: That risk.
Maurice Cherry: Given how much like design is I feel like these days relying on technology with tools, with positions, with companies. What does it mean to be a designer today?
Catt Small: Oh, gosh. Yeah, I think the thing that I usually think about is... this sounds really corny or like self-important, but I try to advocate for the people that are not in the room.
Maurice Cherry: Mm-hmm.
Catt Small: So what I mean by that is like when I'm working on products or projects, I try to think a lot about what we're saying and who we're saying it to, who we're missing, and make sure that those people get represented in conversations. I work really hard to ask hard questions that sometimes make people uncomfortable, because if I don't ask them, then that might affect someone-
Maurice Cherry: Mm-hmm
Catt Small: ... in a way that we didn't expect. So yeah, I think the thing I think a lot about as a designer now is how to facilitate conversations and bring people who help create the experiences that we're working on to a space in which they really understand who is actually going to be using the stuff that we're working on.
Gail Anderson: And I would add to that storytelling-
Catt Small: Mm-hmm.
Gail Anderson: ... for me I've really enjoyed that over the years in really trying to think about the audience that is being impacted by whatever the thing is that we're working on. But I love storytelling, and I love the writing and the journalistic side of things and the editorial and all that still.
Maurice Cherry: We definitely need more design writing.
Gail Anderson: Absolutely.
Maurice Cherry: Absolutely. Yeah.
Gail Anderson: In-
Maurice Cherry: Last... Oh no. Sorry, go ahead.
Gail Anderson: No, no, no. And they're few people who do a lot of it.
Maurice Cherry: Mm-hmm.
Gail Anderson: One who I work with, Steve Heller, who does most of it and-
Maurice Cherry: Steve's great by the way. He's a great guy.
Gail Anderson: Yeah, and so he's been life changing for me over the years. The books that we've worked on together, and just how smart he is and how it's all just kind of right up there with him. And we need the award that you received to sort of grow more Steves. So it's up to you.
Maurice Cherry: To me? Is Aniel still here? No.
Gail Anderson: Yup, it's on you now.
Maurice Cherry: It's on me.
Gail Anderson: Son.
Maurice Cherry: Wow. Thanks mom. Last question, then we'll open it up to the audience here. What's the one thing that you wish you could really communicate to the design community? I know both of you are effective communicators that you've spoken, you've written, you've done a lot, but is there one thing that you feel like you just have to get out there?
Catt Small: I wish designers thought about the quote unquote sad paths more, or like-
Maurice Cherry: Explain that.
Catt Small: So what I mean is... in engineering or in technology we have this phrase that's called like happy paths, where it's like, "If everything goes right, this is what the outcome will be," and I'm always like, "But what about if it doesn't go right?"
Maurice Cherry: Mm-hmm.
Catt Small: I think it's really cool when teams have, for example, what's called a pre-mortem, where they're like, What are you afraid that will happen that will go wrong, right?
Gail Anderson: Oh my God. That's my whole life is more death.
Catt Small: Yeah, I know, I'm like, "That's called anxiety." Like finally, it has a use. But yeah, I find that to be super valuable, because for example, when I was talking about SoundCloud, imagine if we had a pre-mortem or imagine if we had thought about all that stuff up front. Not that a designer could have impacted all the other people that were involved in that conversation, but yeah, I really encourage people to both keep it super optimistic, but also be really realistic about the context that you're in, and like what's going on around you, because that has a huge effect on the work that you're doing. And also just make sure to test everything. I find very often that people do not actually put their work in front of anyone-
Maurice Cherry: Mm-hmm.
Catt Small: ... and they just assume that everyone else will understand exactly what they're trying to say.
Gail Anderson: I would like to see a sort of swirlier mix of designers out there that-
Maurice Cherry: Swirly?
Gail Anderson: Sort of, you know. Different kinds of people.
Maurice Cherry: Like grammatically, or?
Gail Anderson: Grammatically, yeah. Yeah, I'd like to see representation from different communities out there a little bit more. Even in a big city like this.
Maurice Cherry: I would think it'd be easier in New York.
Gail Anderson: Yeah but-
Maurice Cherry: I come from Atlanta, so I'm biased. Well, I'm not that biased.
Catt Small: You would be so surprised.
Gail Anderson: Yeah, you'd be surprised.
Maurice Cherry: It's pretty, you'd be surprised at Atlanta for real.
Gail Anderson: Yeah, so I hope that I can have an impact on that in the coming years with students and the people who hopefully will be attracted to the program. So we have sort of a swirlier mix of different kinds of people.
Maurice Cherry: Swirly. I really liked that. Swirlier. That's dope. I like that. That's my last question. Thank you both so much.
Gail Anderson: You're so relaxed and mellow.
Catt Small: Yeah you're just [crosstalk 00:50:55].
Gail Anderson: I've had two glasses of wine back stage.
Catt Small: Hey.
Maurice Cherry: So I'm good. It's like the end of the day for me so I'm good. Thank you both over coming I really appreciate it. Give them a hand.
Catt Small: Congratulations.
Maurice Cherry: Oh, well thank you. Thank you.
Catt Small: Just saying.
Gail Anderson: Happy anniversary.
Catt Small: Let's open it up for questions from the audience. You can ask questions to any of our panelists. You can ask me questions doesn't matter.
Catt Small: [inaudible 00:51:18]
speaker 4: [inaudible 00:51:21]
Maurice Cherry: Oh, wait who's talking?
Daniel: ... I've been thinking about this question for a while.
Maurice Cherry: What's your name?
Daniel: My name's Daniel. All right, so I guess how were you trying to grow the community of black designers? I guess everywhere we go, whether it's social media, our companies, family members, friends, how are we trying to do that?
Maurice Cherry: Is that to me? Or to everyone-
Daniel: All three.
Maurice Cherry: Oh, how. Keeping this podcast going is a great thing. I mean that's one way of doing it. This podcast has a much larger reach than I could have just myself. Like it's an international podcast. Hopefully doing more events like this is great to garner fellowship and to get people from online to offline. I think what I've really seen over the years is that there's a large community online, but they're not really connected in some way. There are people who I know that I've interviewed who had been in the industry 10 plus years, and they're still like I haven't met any other black designers. I was like, "You've been on my show."
Catt Small: "You know at least one."
Maurice Cherry: "You know at least one," I mean, come one. But definitely more offline fellowship is I think what's needed. I think certainly tools like Twitter and Facebook and things like that have facilitated people to be able to communicate to each other or all around the world. Those links to be made offline so they can be made stronger, so that way, what happens is the community really becomes a driving force. It can become something, which helps with hiring, helps with apprenticeships, helps with networking, and things of that nature. So yeah.
Gail Anderson: It's really hard. It's hard in 2019 to do this. It's ridiculous that it's this hard that you have to make the effort when you're making hires to really go beyond the people you know and go further. You want an office again, that little swirly mix I was talking about you want-
Maurice Cherry: Mm-hmm.
Gail Anderson: ... an office that has all kinds of people, but it takes more work, and most people like, "Oh, I don't know. I don't know anyone," and it's really easy not to bother, so we have to make an effort.
Catt Small: Yeah. I definitely... I always recommend to people and the thing that I like to do is to go to conferences. I like to find the other one black person in the room and be like, "Hi."
Gail Anderson: No, and I always-
Catt Small: Right? "Hello."
Gail Anderson: The one other black person always comes to me and I'm like, "Oh."
Catt Small: "Like you're here. We're here. Yay!"
Gail Anderson: Yeah. I'm like, "Oh, what's your name? And even in school I'm like, "Don't. I got you. I got you."
Catt Small: Yeah, right? You nod. Yeah, that's super important.
Gail Anderson: The conference we were talking about before-
Maurice Cherry: Hue.
Gail Anderson: ...the Hue summit-
Maurice Cherry: Hue Design summit, which is in Atlanta.
Gail Anderson: Atlanta. I spoke there last year, and it was this little conference and we're in this house. And it was a room of 30 something black designers.
Catt Small: Mm-hmm.
Gail Anderson: And I realized I had never spoken to 30 something black designers before into a room of just black designers. And it was like, "My God, I've been doing this forever again, longer than you've all been alive kind of stuff." And it was amazing to see this many people in this house sitting and having this great conversation, and probably the longest talk I've ever done and was the most honest and it was so great that people was like, "You know what I'm talking about?" And they're like, "Yeah," and it was-
Catt Small: Mm-hmm.
Gail Anderson: ... wonderful. And that this little community formed down there and that they have this it's one that's coming up soon that Eddie's speaking at.
Maurice Cherry: Mm-hmm.
Gail Anderson: And I'm told there are a few more of those in different parts of the country?
Maurice Cherry: Mm-hmm.
Gail Anderson: Where are they and-
Maurice Cherry: They're small, but they're-
Gail Anderson: But yeah-
Maurice Cherry: And I know and-
Gail Anderson: And it's all these kids there saying that, "I work here, and I don't see myself at my job and like stuff that I've read about, I met people who actually said things like that, and I was like, "Wow, okay.
Maurice Cherry: Definitely if you're in the bay area, check out the Interact Project. If you're in like Columbus checkout... Oh my God, I'm blanking on the name. Oh my God. Creative Control Fest-
Catt Small: Mm-hmm.
Maurice Cherry: ... that's what it's called. But they're a lot of these little like-
Catt Small: Mm-hmm.
Maurice Cherry: ... actually coming up in October at Harvard Graduate School of Design, Be Black in Design 2019, Black Futurism 2019 so they're happening.
Catt Small: Yeah, there are things. The hard thing is you have to know where to look up very often-
Gail Anderson: Mm-hmm.
Catt Small: Or you have to find that one person who then suddenly opens the door and it's like, "Whoa, wow."
Gail Anderson: "I'm black. I know that one person. What's going on at Harvard? What." Yeah.
Catt Small: Just latch on to everyone. That's been my secret. Like now I'm in like a million slack groups-
Gail Anderson: See that's where you lost me. I'm out.
Catt Small: And they have shown me the way. [crosstalk 00:56:09] But like the concerted effort that you talked about is like exactly what it ends up being. And for me it's also I have a lot of these smaller group chats that I'm a part of, where I just try to like stay in touch with people, see what they're up to. I also try to like recommend people for a lot of different things, like jobs. I tried to recommend them for speaking gigs, and stuff like that, because I want to make sure that everyone stays-
Gail Anderson: Yeah, that's me too.
Catt Small: ... and that maybe at some point we end up in a place working together. I think that's the dream.
Gail Anderson: But at the same time, you're still going to have that moment that I've had my entire career as has my sister, that it's like "Am I here, because I'm the one black one?"
Catt Small: Oh yeah that's always fun.
Gail Anderson: That's going to follow you around forever. No matter what what you accomplish, no matter how you will... I still have it after this much at 57, after accomplishing so much through hard work, and luck and all that-
Catt Small: Mm-hmm.
Gail Anderson: ... that you still have those moments of like, "Really, this just because," or something happens and you're like, "What just happened?"
Catt Small: Good times.
Gail Anderson: So you guys know what I'm talking about. Like, "Oh. Yeah."
Maurice Cherry: Okay, who's there?
Speaker 1: Well, I wanted to say first thank you, Maurice for continuing Revision Path and Ms. Gail and Catt for showing up tonight. My question is kind of piggy backing up your previous statement about navigating predominantly white spaces. I'm a 5th Quarter Design student in Atlanta at Portfolio Center.
Maurice Cherry: Oh, nice. Shout out Portfolio Center.
Speaker 1: And I'm only black designer in my quarter, and I find it that I have to kind of assimilate some time.
Catt Small: Mm-hmm.
Speaker 1: I'm from Brooklyn. So it was hard for me to just act like I'm not from Brooklyn.
Catt Small: Mm-hmm. Oh I get it.
Speaker 1: And so it's like how do I navigate these spaces, remain yourself-
Catt Small: Mm-hmm.
Speaker 1: ... and still let your work kind of speak for itself, even though you look at things obviously different from-
Maurice Cherry: Let your work kind of speak for itself, even though you look things obviously different from the rest of us.
Gail Anderson: And you become voice of all things black too.
Catt Small: Oh Yeah.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah. Yeah.
Gail Anderson: Well, what do you think? Really, why do you care what I think? What?
Catt Small: Right, yeah. A lot of time with that, stab.
Catt Small: Yeah I mean, I think for me the things that's been interesting is that answer... The answer to that question changes depending on where I go. There are some places where it's really easy to be just be like, "This is who I am," and, "I'm from the Bronx, so like," sometimes people react to things that I say in ways where I'm like, "Did you not think that that was going to happen? You said something dumb, this is where it was going to go." Or, "You need to hear this feedback, this needs to happen, you work is not doing it right now."
Catt Small: And so, I think the thing that's been interesting for me is to, number one, figure out how to communicate to people where I'm coming from, and how I think, and why maybe we have some distance, and that's been really helpful. Just setting people's expectations and... One thing for example, that I did is I have a working manual, for working with me. So people now know, if you do not put an agenda in a meeting invitation, I am going to decline it.
Gail Anderson: Or you're one of those agenda's people? [crosstalk 00:59:13]
Catt Small: Oh yeah. I'm...straight up just like, this is how I work, this is what to expect if you do not do this. We can talk about it, but just know that this is where I'm coming from, and that's been really helpful for at least resolving some of those conflicts. And asking people how they like to work too has been really helpful for us to figure out together how we can kind of work.
Catt Small: But yeah, some places I've just to compartmentalize and I hate those places a lot.
Maurice Cherry: The concept of a working manual. I like that. That's really good.
Catt Small: I'm a robot.
Maurice Cherry: No, I mean, it lets people know, this is how, this is how she [crosstalk 00:59:45] [inaudible 00:59:45]goes, you know? Yeah.
Gail Anderson: I'd like to see that working manual.
Maurice Cherry: For me it's always helped to just have something on the side, like some side project I can put those feelings, or that creativity into. It doesn't have to be public project, but just something else to channel it off into, is what's helped for me. If you're in Atlanta hit me up. I'd be really good,[inaudible 01:00:08], so you got to hit me up. I'll be curious to hear about The Portfolio Center, and how it is. I spoke there one time, it was all right, but yeah... [crosstalk 01:00:15]Oh you were, okay, all right, yeah.
Catt Small: Yeah, I mean, sometimes you have to make the money, you know, and so you can't... Well what I mean is you-
Maurice Cherry: Oh. Oh I thought you meant he's speaking up [inaudible 01:00:25][crosstalk 01:00:25], okay.
Catt Small: But, side projects right? Because you can't always just choose to quit a job when they're like, "What do you think, singular black person who represents all human beings?" And you're like, "I hate all of you so much and I wish I could just walk out right now." You can't always do that and that is a coping mechanism. I think that accounting... figuring out how long you can cope in situations where you just have terrible people, is totally reasonable.
Catt Small: Like, when I went to SVA, I think there were six of us in a class of a lot of people, like hundreds, and so we all knew each other, and we were all in different classes, and I had to commute from the Bronx, and everyone else pretty much lived on campus and it was very hard because I also had a job, and so I couldn't devote the same amount of time, and people just didn't understand. And so, yeah, I mean in those moments I was definitely was like, three more years, two more years, one more year, one month. And that helped me get through it.
Catt Small: And yeah, sometimes with certain jobs, I was like, one year, six months, almost there, all right, let's go! And that helped too.
Maurice Cherry: Hi Stephanie.
Stephanie: Hi. My name is Stephanie. Maurice is actually... Well I was Maurice's intern for almost a decade though.
Maurice Cherry: Oh my God! Has it been that long? [crosstalk 01:01:48]Has it been that long?
Stephanie: Since [inaudible 01:01:48][crosstalk 01:01:48]
Maurice Cherry: It's been that long, wow I remember.
Stephanie: I have found... It was actually when he was doing an awards show, and I found it somewhere in me to ask "Can I be in the internship to graduate, I'm not in design oh, and I'm not in design now, but it made me appreciate the space even more. And then a couple years later after I graduated, he reached out to me about an intern for Vision Path. It was like a year after he started it, and I was like "hey, you have marketing thing, you have a marketing internship, you know I can do that for-
Maurice Cherry: I was like, "Come on down."
Stephanie: Yeah. So everything the guy said when I was walking in is true. Literally a couple of months ago he was a reference for a job I was interviewing for. I got the job. But [inaudible 01:02:33] it's been, he's... I will email him the most random things, and we talk in email maybe once a year, and he's always like, like I talk to him every day. So I definitely I really appreciate that.
Maurice Cherry: Oh, well thank you.
Stephanie: I can definitely get him, but anyway, the question. The question is, my instructor always told me, you need to learn HTML, you should learn HTML... I never learned HTML. But, and even to this day, I would like, "I could be making so much money." So is one thing-
Maurice Cherry: She's right.
Stephanie: So what is one thing someone told you you should learn and you didn't, and it came back to bite you?
Maurice Cherry: I don't know if this thing came back to bite me, but certainly when I was in high school. So for those of you listen to the show, you know I'm from Selma, Alabama, like the first generation after the movie essentially. I'm sure somebody has seen the movie. And so there's still a lot of like, latent racism with a bunch of things, and so being a smart black person's not necessarily always to your advantage when it comes to educational opportunities, or scholarships and things like that. And I would always have, well my guidance counselor, I think she's dead, I don't know, but she would always tell me that I had to... Well, she might not be dead, I couldn't speak ill of the dead so... I say that to say, she would always give me advice like... I wouldn't want to apply to these schools, and she's like "I mean like, have you thought about learning a trade, like HVAC, Air Conditioning, you could go down to Wallace Community College, I know your Mom works," I was like, "Your husband works there, so, no."
Maurice Cherry: I'm not going to necessarily say this came back to bite me, but my water heater blew up two years ago and for some reason that was on my mind like, should I have known the signs?
Maurice Cherry: No, no, no, okay but to be serious. So is there something that I was supposed to learn that have come back to bite me? That's a good question. I think anything that has kind of had to do with... I want to say like app development or coding, but any sort of hardcore coding stuff, I've definitely lost out gigs on. And so when I had my studio, I would just be friends with people who were coders, and I could bring them in on a project.
Maurice Cherry: But it has, certainly in my early days, that happened. I did some political work, and that would happen because... or that would come back to bite me, because I was working for someone who was a democrat, and then republicans would want work with me, and I'm like "no", and there would be things like that. Like I'd loose out on business for simple little things like that, so nothing I think, too huge.
Maurice Cherry: What about you all?
Gail Anderson: Math bit me in the ass. Not being better at that, that I'm still embarrassed by figuring stuff out sometimes, like it's not even, get the calculator, it's like "oh my God, this is embarrassing." So that... not having that facility is embarrassing.
Maurice Cherry: I was working at a box office once, selling tickets for the symphony, when I was in college. And when I got my math degree, they took my calculator away because they were like, "you got it." Which I did, but that's not the point.
Gail Anderson: No, I envy that. I'm glad I took personal typing in high school, you know. That was a good plan. The computer did end up sticking and knew how to type. But yeah, math, embarrassing.'
Catt Small: I think for me, even when I was younger, my parents would always be like, "be patient, you need to learn to slow it down a little bit," and obviously I have not learned since but I've gotten better over time at being like, "Okay, maybe I'm doing to much," or maybe I'm asking for a lot and I think the thing I think about very often is, I look at a lot of other people and they've been doing this for a lot longer of a time, and I have to remind myself, be patient and calm down, and things are going to come when they come, and that's okay.
Gail Anderson: Yep, they will. And to take a vacation? Take a break, you are not indispensable and you can be replaced. All that. And you can take two weeks and do something every now and then. Don't... Use the vacation that you're given.
Maurice Cherry: The work will be there when you get back.
Gail Anderson: The work will be there, and put your pennies together and travel sometimes. It just... I was so dumb that I didn't do that when I was younger, so.
Ron: Hi, my name is Ron. I'm from Philadelphia.
Maurice Cherry: Ron! Ron's been on the show by the way.
Maurice Cherry: What's up Ron?
Ron: What's up Maurice? Congratulations.
Gail Anderson: Is your picture up there Ron? I don't think it is.
Gail Anderson: [crosstalk 01:07:44]
Ron: I don't think so.
Maurice Cherry: I remember the month that it happened. It was like you, it was Natalie Nixon was also in Philly, Jessica Bell and me, and somebody else but yeah. So go ahead, go ahead.
Ron: Okay. I heard or first learned about design when I was younger in high school. I went to a vocational Tech school, and they had it in Philadelphia. And I hadn't heard of design school at all, someone had to tell me that these school existed in my own city. And as a result of going to design school, I started going back to my high school to recruit.
Ron: Flash forward now, many years later, I find in Philadelphia that that's still the case. I think that someone I know, a friend did some research and they found out that a lot of kids of color, especially African Americans, don't know about the design schools. So I'm asking that question, wherever you guys are located, I know Maurice, you're not here, you guys are in New York. Is there any talk, do you ever hear conversations of these art and design schools trying to connect to the high schools so that more students of color could learn more about what's out there?
Maurice Cherry: So I'm in Atlanta and there are... There's a few art schools, there's the Art Institute of Atlanta there's The Portfolio Center, there's The Savannah College of Art and Design has a campus there. But then there are also some of the major four-year institutions that have pretty good design programs, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Spelman has an arts Program, there's a couple others.
Maurice Cherry: I don't know how much high school outreach they really do. And I'm thinking of that because I know that there is a high school there, Maynard Jackson High School, that does have a design curriculum, for grades nine through 12. I don't know how much outreach those design schools are doing to high schoolers. So that's a really good question. I really don't know. I mean, just off of my observation, I would say none, but that could be totally off.
Gail Anderson: SPA does a lot of outreach to high schools around the country. There are people in admissions who are scattered through the year, going to schools, and there's a pre-college program in the summer and on Saturdays. It's fantastic in lots of different areas.
Catt Small: Yeah I went to that.
Gail Anderson: You went to the pre- See of course you did, of course you did.
Gail Anderson: And I've been doing work with the Cooper Hewitt, we've done some high school... An incredible Saturday of students around the city visiting a fair, and a teen fair. One afternoon after school the kids were coming from around the country to this fair. So the Cooper Hewitt does a lot of work locally and in other cities, and we've gone to other cities to speak at grammar schools as well, which is even more fun.
Gail Anderson: So, I know that I've certainly trying to do that, and these institutions I've been connected with do that pretty well.
Gail Anderson: What about you?
Catt Small: Oh God. I mean, I think from what I've seen, it kind of depends on like... Sometimes there are programs, or example, I did a fellowship while I was getting my Grad Degree at NYU's IDM program and I was working with high schoolers, and in that case, and I was teaching them how to make video games in this case, and got to talk a lot about what it means to design things for other people. And that was really cool. But it does feel like a lot of these programs are very one-off and it really depends on if you're in the right place at the right time. And I don't how to solve that. That's a huge issue. I don't think I would be here if a random program hadn't given me a program when I was nine or so. All these random factors kind of contribute. The nice thing is that there are some programs that are trying and some people are definitely getting to learn about things.
Catt Small: There are a couple of other... Because there's so much stem stuff happening now, I feel like people now have a sort of path of entry to learn how to code and then figure out, okay the coding part isn't as interesting, there are other parts of it though, that are related to creating these experiences, maybe I can do something like that. So I'm definitely confident that, at least in New York, people are really trying and more kids are definitely becoming aware of design.
Speaker 2: [inaudible 01:12:31]
Catt Small: Hi. Yeah!
Speaker 2: [inaudible 01:12:32]It's great that giving me a chair.
Speaker 2: I wanted to ask, what kind of responsibilities to up-and-coming designers have nowadays. Because we live in a very troubling era, you know? And what kind of ripple effect will that have in the future? Because, what you put out to the world eventually gets seen.
Maurice Cherry: Responsibilities-
Gail Anderson: I mean you have to make an effort to use materials that are responsible to be passionate about something, you know, and step outside of the sort of, make it cool, part of design. So you've got a lot on your head just so you know.
Maurice Cherry: I don't know if I'd use the word... I feel like responsible implies a certain level of autonomy that designers may not have an equal fashion. I think it's more about impact. What impact-
Gail Anderson: I think it's the same thing kind of.
Maurice Cherry: You think so?
Maurice Cherry: Like what impact can you work at, I mean especially if you're a digital designer, a lot of our work is very ephemeral, like the next version of whatever is going to erase everything that you put work into and then-
Gail Anderson: But still... But find the thing that, that... that if that's ephemeral, that isn't. And that's for me, what the teaching was. It was like okay I'm doing all this fun stuff for Rolling Stone, what is it that I'm doing that I can make change.
Catt Small: That's tangible.
Gail Anderson: Yeah. And so that was the... Teaching for me was that thing so many years ago.
Gail Anderson: But yeah, it's all that impact. And I guess I'm equating the two somehow, because I expect you to do this thing. Because I get to say that because I'm in charge.
Maurice Cherry: I really would love to see more designers get into civic design of some sort. Whether that's working with local, or city, or state governments, what have you, doing more things where your design work can make an impact on a broader scale. You would be surprised, I mean I know in Atlanta, we have a ton of neighborhood planning meetings and neighborhood planning units. And even just going to one of those and sitting in, and designing a flyer has so much impact just in terms of... Does anyone have anybody that does that? I mean even I think on the city level of government, certainly. That's something where design, I feel, could have a great impact. I mean-
Catt Small: Imagine if someone actually designed the voting ballot? Wouldn't that be nice?
Maurice Cherry: [crosstalk 01:15:24] Well, I mean, the voting ballots design is tricky because it's so different across states and jurisdictions and everything. I think AIGA tried to take that on for a while and was like, no, I don't have it.
Catt Small: Right like, woo, backs away.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah, pretty much, yeah. But even to that effect, I think that one thing that is clear that we've all seen, is the effect of design on how it can impact us on a much larger scale. When you think of things such as fake news, or anything like that. We'll stick with fake news, we'll say that. Fake news, or even types of things that you see on Facebook from these well designed, clearly fake sites, or whatever. It's designed in a way to fool you, or fool whomever, to think, oh, this is real news. Like Fox-news.com is not a real news site, you know that sort of thing. So we see how design is already kind of playing into ways that are impacting us on much larger, broader scales. So thinking of how your impact can help on a civic level I think is really important.
Maurice Cherry: Did you have something to add to it, or you good?
Catt Small: No, that was fine.
Regine: Hello. It's Regine. So all of you have... Thank you all for being here by the way. All of you have evolved throughout your careers. And so my question to you is, what recommendations do you have for designers so that they can continue to evolve themselves? Because I think it's really important for people to evolve as they grow in their careers. So what advice do you have, or what tips do you have for the designers of today?
Gail Anderson: Look up, look around, put your phone down. You know, just be aware of your surroundings. That seems like the silliest thing, but it's a world of everybody looking down.
Maurice Cherry: I have to keep beating the drum about design writing. Just because there's such a dearth of it, I think, from people of color in general. I mean certainly we have the very venerable designers that are creating and writing books and articles and things now, which is great, but where are they going to be in twenty-five year. Who is the next generation of design writers that are coming up that are going to speak about design across a number of different levels? I think certainly, we've seen with, let's say... I don't want to say pop culture, that's not the best way to put it, but we've certainly seen in popular writing like from The Atlantic, or other types of outlets, where you started to see this like new guard of people that are the next intelligincy or what have you.
Maurice Cherry: Where is that with design? So feel like if a designer is going to try to evolve in that way, think about how you can become on that level, and I think writing is the way to do that.
Catt Small: Yeah. I think the thing I thought a lot about as I was growing as a designer is, what are the actual activities that I'm really interested in doing? Like what are the things that engage me about the work regardless of where I end up doing it? And that's helped me to ensure that I am doing the work that I'm doing because it is valuable to me, rather than because I'm expected to climb the specific career ladder, or specifically focus on certain things. So I think being open to positions, or work that you maybe weren't expecting to be able to do, or have access to, and really just kind of like going with things, and takings risks sometimes, has been really valuable.
Gail Anderson: Absolutely. Yep.
Maurice Cherry: We've got time for one more question? Yeah.
Speaker 3: Hi, what's... I'm not a designer, so what is designer writing?
Maurice Cherry: What is design right now?
Catt Small: Design writing.
Gail Anderson: Design writing?
Maurice Cherry: Oh, design writing, oh okay, so design writing. Well, we can ask one more question after that.
Maurice Cherry: Design writing is essentially essays, or prose, or description, or commentary relating to the design industry. So that can be a book about design education, it could be an article about your experience as a designer. Basically writing about the industry that are in from a level of observer, and also as maybe-
Gail Anderson: As curator.
Maurice Cherry: Practitioner, curator, tactician, etc.
Gail Anderson: Yeah, I mean I've worked on 16 books over the last 30 years with Steve Heller and one on my own, and we're working on one right now. And Maurice and I might be doing something together. So yeah, my thing is typography, illustration... There is so many, graphic design-wise for me, areas to explore and curate work from around the world, and categorize and organize and... Luckily, design books are not that expensive anymore, for the most part, and if you have room, buy them. Because they go out of print so quickly and you will regret not having them.
Gail Anderson: And certainly... So that's where I still live in terms of writing, but of course there are blogs and-
Maurice Cherry: I bought a book... Do you know [Elly Kintz 01:20:49]? He did book in the 80s about visual puns?
Catt Small: Oh yes, of course. Yes.
Maurice Cherry: I had to buy that book off e-bay, it was hard, you can't find it anywhere. But yeah, those things go out of print so easily, so when you see it, buy it.
Catt Small: And if you're interested in writing, I am on the editorial board for Rosenfeld Media, it's one of the design book companies. I'm happy to share information with you about submitting a book proposal. Like, you can do it, it doesn't matter what level you're at. People want to hear from people of all skill levels and stuff like that. So if you're ever like, "I should not write because I don't have enough experience," that's not part of it, or like, "Oh, other people have already talked about this thing." Your opinion is different and interesting, so definitely put yourself out there and speak and write, and just share your voice, please.
Gail Anderson: Yes.
Maurice Cherry: Now that last question, all right, go ahead sir.
Speaker 1: So for closing now, it's a two-fold question. The first part is, as a designer which is more important, either the technical or the conceptual side?
Speaker 1: And then the last part is, as experienced designers, what resources or books would you guys suggest to help develop your either design style, or just become a more proficient designer?
Gail Anderson: For me, conceptual more than technical. You can... technical yes, but conceptual is the thing that excites me more. And has been more valuable for me over the years.
Catt Small: Yeah, if you... For example, I talk to people sometimes and they're like, "Should I Figma, or should I use Sketch?" And I'm like, "Does it matter, can you do the work and come up with the ideas that are really impacting people in a way that is valuable to them?" So I think the more that you can do in terms of interpersonal, or facilitation, conversations, really coming up with ideas, that is the stuff that is much more valuable.
Gail Anderson: Yeah, and work that makes you happy.
Catt Small: Yeah.
Maurice Cherry: I'd also say conceptual because there's always... I hate to say this as a truism, but there's always going to be someone out there that can do it better, faster, cheaper, etc. But they may not have your idea, or your way of approaching, or your thought process to get to what the concept is about.
Gail Anderson: You can find someone to help you with the technical part if you need it.
Maurice Cherry: And what was the second part of your question?
Speaker 1: The second part was any resources or books that you recommend.
Maurice Cherry: Resources or books.
Gail Anderson: Resources. Oh yeah.
Maurice Cherry: For Revision Path? (laughs).
Maurice Cherry: Resources or Books.
Gail Anderson: I mean we can make a list.
Catt Small: Yeah, I have a list of resources on my website, cattsmall.com. There's literally a link that says resources in there, so if you want to check that out, there's literally a blog post that's called, Advice for new UX for designers, and it has like 10 books on it that I read. I mean there's a lot of classics that are out there that people always talk about. I really like, specifically for UX design, I really like, The User Experience, Team of One, Don't Make Me Think is like the classic one that everyone references, and it's good. It makes you think and sometimes can be provoking in a good way. But yeah, there are so many.
Catt Small: You've written books!
Gail Anderson: I can tell you 16 of them, that you can get.
Gail Anderson: I'd be happy to make a list.
Catt Small: Yeah, I want to read your list.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah, I want to read your list too.
Maurice Cherry: I'm trying to think, what's a good book or resource? Oh, so this is going to be like... no I'm not going to say that. No it's going to be a glitch.com like [inaudible 01:24:27], but that would have been really obvious.
Maurice Cherry: Let me think. A good book that I read, and I think for me because I was a freelancer for so long, this book has really helped me out. It's a book called, this so cliché, but it's called, Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk. That book has really like, sometimes it's been just the kick in the ass that I needed to like, do the thing, or say the thing, or write the thing, or whatever, so. I still read it every year but it's such a cliché answer so.
Gail Anderson: No, I've never heard of it.
Catt Small: Yeah, me neither, yeah I'm like...
Maurice Cherry: Oh, it must just be, okay... Well, Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk. He's in New York, I'm sure he'd appreciate the plug, so yeah.
Maurice Cherry: All Right, wrapping up, all right. Thank you, everyone, for coming out. Thank you.
Catt Small: Thank you. Congratulations!
Maurice Cherry: All right, so, can we wrap up the [inaudible 01:25:25].
Catt Small: Thanks internet.
Maurice Cherry: Oh yes. For those of you who are not subscribing, you can go to glitch.com/revisionpath.com, you can subscribe there, you can also subscribe on just revisionpath.com.
Maurice Cherry: I guess I... Can I tease this?
Catt Small: Tease away.
Maurice Cherry: The 300th episode is coming up on June 17th, and I don't want to say who it's going to be? Okay fine, I don't even know if the [inaudible 01:25:53]is still going, but it's going to be... We're going to be talking to Hannah Beachler, who is the award-winning production designer from Black Panther, so. There's doing to be good conversation. That episode's going to air on June 24th, so it's coming up at the end of the month.
Catt Small: This is amazing.
Maurice Cherry: Thank you. Go drink, yeah. Fellowship, please.