Angelica Marie is a Graphic Designer & Visual Artist from New Jersey. She is a graduate of the University of North Florida’s limited access design program with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design and Digital Media. She is currently a Designer at Broadway Cares/Equity Fights. She is inspired by the world around her as well as music and various cultures. She is also the founder of Karasi, LLC. (wearekarasi.org) An empowerment platform for womxn of color.
I’ve been designing since I was about 14 and professionally since 2013. I’m pretty chill; I love to read, travel and collect vinyl records featuring black artists from the 70s-90s.
Tell me about your early years and where you come from.
I am a first generation Jamaican-American. I was born in Perth Amboy, NJ and moved to Florida when I was 10. My early years were filled with being an awkward black girl, music, getting into trouble with my siblings and playing video games. Interestingly enough, I wanted to be a vet so I could help animals. Then I learned I didn’t like science.
How did you first get interested in design?
I didn’t know Graphic Design was a career path until I was about to graduate high school. My introduction to design started because I was obsessed with this group called B5. Music was my gateway into Design in many ways. I used to spend all day on the B5 message boards. Girls would have these cool graphics in their signatures. People had virtual “shops” where you could request graphics to be made, and I wanted to do it, so I taught myself and fell in love with it. I started making digital collage art of all my favorite artists. Fast forward to high school, I took a web design class and caught onto it immediately. I ended up becoming the teacher’s aide while I was still in the class. After this, I started exploring what else I could do with design in my future. (Also had a pretty lucrative myspace layout business back in the day! lol)
Tell me about the work you've done?
A few weeks before graduating, I landed a sweet gig at Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. It was my dream job. I knew that I wanted to design at a nonprofit and HIV/AIDS awareness was something I became very passionate about while in college. I design here fulltime, and in my free time, I freelance with small businesses generally women-owned ones.
What are your proudest accomplishments of your career?
I don’t have any major accolades, but I’m still proud of who I am as a designer. I’m just a regular girl touching people’s lives through my art and design, and that feels good to me. It makes me feel accomplished. I love when people thank me for creating. It makes me feel like I am seen. Also, having my work on the big screens in Times Square was pretty cool.
What have been your biggest struggles of your career?
Being in a white-dominated space becomes very daunting at times. On top of being black, I am also a womxn. This brings in another layer. It makes you very aware and sometimes too cautious to take risks or speak out because you don’t want to be a stereotype.
What are you doing that's special that sets you apart from your peers?
I have a lot of passions. Many people like to stay in one lane, but I like to dabble in a few. I think being able to use different mediums and platforms (and be good at it) makes you a more well-rounded designer.
What have your experience been as a person of color in the design industry?
It’s been interesting. I just feel hyper-aware of my identity sometimes. People are always looking to me for the “black insight” which gets frustrating but I try to open people’s minds to experiences that may be beyond their understanding or frame of reference.
What are your biggest motivators?
Honestly, hope for a better and happier world motivates me the most. I want happiness and freedom for all people.
How do your friends and family feel about the work you've done?
My family and friends are super supportive overall. They are always gassing me up and PAYING me. Of course, coming from a Caribbean family, I got the “why don’t you become a doctor” talk. But thankfully my parents have both been very supportive of what I do.
What do you love most about working in design?
I love being able to communicate visually. As an introverted person, I am not the best with words. But I can make something that makes you feel something and that makes me feel like I have value and power.
What would you like to see changed about the design field?
Diversity beyond race. More cultures, disabilities, and genders need to be represented.
How can design be more accommodating to underrepresented populations of people?
By actually doing market research and having more people of color and people with disabilities on your design and marketing teams! I’m very sick of seeing these companies offend large groups of people and issue an apology for their tone-deaf design and marketing. Diversity in design brings better design.
What are you working on right now, either for work or for yourself?
Just pushing out more content through Karasi and practicing my digital illustration skills. Trying to remind myself to create work that’s just for me to have fun with.
Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years? Do you think you'll stay in design?
I think I will always be utilizing design to some extent no matter where I go in life. In 5 to 10 years I see myself empowering black women through art/design on a larger scale. I want to start doing more for black mothers like providing educational pieces. I want to make empowering art for women’s shelters and things like that. Design is my voice, so it’s something I don’t ever want to lose.
What advice would you give to folks from similar backgrounds who are in design or hoping to get into it?
Don’t feel like you have to constantly create. Social media will have you devaluing yourself because you don’t post/create everyday. Don’t feed into that! Design or make art for yourself and find things that inspire you to create outside of a work environment.