September 22-23, ’23

3500 John A Merritt Blvd, Nashville, TN

A conference for better design

The State of Black Design is a groundbreaking conference and career fair that aims to increase the employment of Black professionals in the design industry. The conference, hosted by Texas State University, convenes annually to find ways to address the longstanding lack of diversity in the industry’s workforce and its professional practice. The conference’s designer-focused career fair connects numerous jobseekers with recruiters from dozens of firms around the country.

The State of Black Design has quickly become a premier gathering for networking, professional development, industry innovation, and job opportunities. It’s the only national effort dedicated to establishing young Black professionals and recent college graduates in design careers. The State of Black Design, in its third year, attracts leading Black designers, educators, activists, recruiters, and students nationwide. And each year, the conference sets new online viewing and virtual participation records for Texas State University. More than 4,000 people live streamed last year’s conference. This year’s State of Black Design is a three-day, hybrid event that will be held on campus and online. Renowned poet Nikki Giovanni and journalist Jelani Cobb are among dozens of speakers and presenters. Its theme is “Family Reunion.”

“The previous State of Black Design events have all taken place online due to COVID,” said Omari Souza, an assistant communication design professor and organizer of the State of Black Design conference. “This year we’ve added a hybrid component. We will attempt to safely bring together a limited number of people in person to further build and establish community. For that reason, we are calling it a family reunion.”

The conference will feature dozens of presentations, panel discussions and workshops exploring design diversity, best practices, and design activism. Conference speakers will hail from various disciplines within the design field. Presenters include Tre Seals, a Washington, D.C.-based font designer, who creates typography rooted in history –from the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Argentina to the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S.A. Marryam Moma, a visual artist, who’s made a name for herself in Atlanta, making collages that convey the Black experience, will hold a collage workshop. Decorated designer Kevin Bethune will also share insights from his forthcoming book Reimaging Design: Unlocking Strategic Innovation.

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