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    • Thursday, July 13, 2017, 3:06pm

Announcing the 2017 CUP Fellow for Change in Design

Announcing the 2017 CUP Fellow for Change in Design

CUP is excited to announce the selection of Nicholas Johnson as our first ever CUP Fellow for Change in Design!

The Fellowship is our new initiative to support the development of a pipeline of talented individuals from historically under-represented communities into the design fields. The Fellowship is a paid opportunity to work with CUP for one year, gaining valuable experience in the field as well as access to mentorship from leading designers. We received over 70 applications from designers across the country, and were both impressed and inspired by the level of talent among the applicants.

With the help of our three jury members, designers Jonathan Jackson, Tamara Maletic, and Sadie Red Wing, we narrowed the pool to six finalists. Each of our six finalists displayed a truly inspiring and impressive depth of talent, and making the final decision was incredibly difficult. (You can read more about them here.) We came away from this experience reaffirmed in the abundance of amazing talent from designers from historically under-represented communities, and hopeful for the future of design.

And we’re thrilled to welcome Nick to our team! Nick is a graphic designer, illustrator, and typographer originally from Detroit, MI. He is a recent graduate of Western Michigan University where he received his BFA in Graphic Design. Before CUP, Nick consulted with the Black Arts and Cultural Center and was an intern with the Frostic School of Visual Art.

As a self-described cartoon fanatic, he attributes his interest in design to his youthful obsession with cartoons and animation. Nowadays, his aesthetic has evolved beyond Miyazaki to draw on elements from his own identity and the community that he grew up in. He describes the black aesthetic as a central part of his design work.

“For me, the black aesthetic is an amalgamation of many things, because black culture is very complex: from ebonic terms, to jazz, to hip hop, all mixed with more traditional African elements. That’s very much part of my work, because it’s a part of me–it’s important for me not to just use the aesthetic elements that famous white designers have taught me.”

As we welcome Nick to our team, we also want to give a warm farewell to Deja Holden, our Design Assistant for the past year. In her time at CUP, Deja helped us develop the Fellowship and has been an important contributor to the creation of this program. Best of luck and happy trails, Deja!

Our sincerest thanks to all who applied, and especially to our six finalists. It was a pleasure and an honor for us to get to know and showcase so many talented, emerging designers!

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