#BlackDesignVisionaries is a $130,000 grant program for emerging Black designers and small design businesses

Launched in partnership with Brooklyn Museum and Instagram’s @design account, the grant announces a call for entries to US designers, open until 16 July with the shortlist announced in autumn.

Date
18 June 2021
Reading Time
3 minute read

In partnership with Brooklyn Museum, Instagram’s @design – the official account dedicated to global design – has announced a call for entries for its grant program, #BlackDesignVisionaries. Aimed at emerging and aspiring Black designers and small design businesses, the program is open to US designers from a range of fields and will offer four awards in total; three Aspiring Designer Grants each worth $10,000 will be given to Black designers aged between 18 and 30; while one $100,000 Small Business Grant will be awarded to a small Black-led design business with no more than 10 years under its belt. Additionally, each grant recipient will receive a year-long personalised mentorship, including regular check-ins and advice from a group of mentors chosen by the grant committee and @design.

Applications are open until July 16, and will be reviewed by a committee comprising of writer and curator Antwaun Sargent – who’s also the author of The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion, who recently joined Gagosian Gallery as a director – plus Champions Design co-founder Bobby C. Martin; Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter; Elle Décor editor-in-chief Asad Sykrett; former head of Instagram design Ian Spelter; Justina Blakeney, founder and creative director of Jungalow; Toni L. Griffin, founder of urbanAC and professor in practice at Harvard Graduate School of Design as well as director of The Just City Lab; Rick Lowe, artist and professor at the University of Houston; plus artist and designer Heron Preston.

In terms of the identity, #BlackDesignVisionaries has been developed by Toni Coleman and Frances Smith, two designers and community leaders at Instagram. Following the widely adopted capitalisation of “B” in “Black”, the identity employed this design characteristic into the visual design which thus uses a capital B as the foundation, “to declare a shared identity and design community worthy of elevation and celebration,” as stated in the press release. The stylistic change also follows on from the question, “Where are the Black designers?”, as stated by Mitzi Okou, co-founder of the project and initiative of the same name, along with Garret Albury.

#BlackDesignVisionaires has also been developed alongside three Black-led organisations: Chicago Mobile Makers, a nonprofit that empowers youth to become change-makers through design-focused workshops; The Hidden Genius Project, offering tech and entrepreneurship mentorship for Black male youth; and Interact Project, that supports Black, Latinx and underrepresented students of colour with accessing design education.

“Black culture and talent have a monumental influence in the design world, yet are often overlooked and undervalued,” says Laval Bryant-Quigley, Brooklyn Museum director of marketing, in the announcement. “Our exhibitions and programs seek to engage audiences by uplifting the often underrepresented stories and narratives of art history. We’re proud to partner with Instagram’s @design to create more inclusive opportunities to amplify more diverse voices in design.”

Antwaun Sargent adds in the release: "I am delighted to be helping lead #BlackDesignVisionaries. Design can be a source of empowerment and futurity. But in order for that to happen it needs to be more inclusive. Design affects us all and it is important that Black designers have opportunities to help shape our notions of the world by designing what the world can do and be. So, if you are a designer, aspiring or seasoned, please apply with your ideas of what design can be in Black communities.”

The #BlackDesignVisionaires grants are open for submissions from the US and enters are free of charge. All entries must be submitted by July 16 at 11:59pm EDT. Shortlist will be announced in autumn 2021.

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About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.

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