How INVT is honoring Black History Month

Black History Month 2021

Aundre Larrow, Antionette Carroll, and Donna Lamar are some of the creatives we admire and hope to amplify.

Black History Month, celebrated in February in the US, was created to honor the achievements of Black Americans and increase awareness of Black identity. This year, we wanted to do our part with more intention, so we pulled together a list of Black creatives we admire and started featuring them on our social media. 

Our criteria is people who inspire us and give us hope, and we get excited each time we think of a new name to add. The first group in our series was a no-brainer, as you can imagine, because we started close to home with people from our INVT community, including:

Jerome HarrisMaurice CherryAundre LarrowEddie OparaAntionette CarrollGail AndersonRenee ReidMaurice WoodsFri ForjindamJames BadourWes O’HaireDonna Lamar

We hope you’ll read—and share—the profiles we’ll be posting throughout the month. Then, please join us in following these creatives and their work through their own platforms.

Concurrently, we’re dedicated to developing the pipeline through which young creatives will enter our industry. Inspired by Inneract Project, which empowers underrepresented youth through design education, we’ve made a donation to support their endeavors. Please take a few minutes to learn about Inneract Project’s vision and programs and consider making your own donation.

March 2021 Design & Art Event Hotlist

Hotlist March 2021

INVT’s curated list of “must do” creative events is designed to inspire.

It’s cherry blossom season in San Francisco! There’s something about seeing the bright bursts of color against gray skies that reignites our passions, gives us hope, and drives us to bring more beauty into our world. What might we create today?

So many possible answers to that question, and we’re getting inspiration from our monthly “Hotlist”, which you’ll see below. Here you’ll find our “must-do” Design & Art events from around the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond (thanks to all the virtual offerings), a list curated by INVT co-founders and practicing designers Arianna Orland and Dava Guthmiller.

Throughout March, we’re looking forward to feeding our brains, exploring design history, continuing our work for becoming better allies for each other, and inspiring our muses. Join us!

BIPOC Design History.

If you missed the live sessions from this series in February, you can now access the lectures, readings, and discussions online. “Black Design in America”, facilitated by Polymode, revisits and rewrites design history to include previously marginalized designers and cultural figures—particularly BIPOC and QTPOC. We’ll learn about innovative mathematics in African architecture, the Harlem Renaissance and other queer Blackness, the rise of hip-hop’s graphic language, and protest graphics of the Black Lives Matter movement. $30/class or $250/series for practicing professionals; sliding scale for educators, students, and BIPOC. Any time. Online.

CCA’s Spring Lecture Series.

We are going to be feeding our brains this month through the excellent lectures offered by California College of the Arts—and all are free! We are seriously excited about the group show “Which Mirror Do You Want to Lick?” (March 2) and the talks “Future of Work” and “Experimental Computer Animation” (both on March 12). Check out the full lineup of offerings on their calendar. Did we mention they’re free? Multiple dates. Virtual.

Leading Design Festival.

UK-based Leading Design is a month-long event for people leading design teams, overseeing design direction, or instilling a culture of design within their organizations. The 2021 event kicks off with a three-day conference, followed by “The Rest of the Fest”: weekly talks, masterclasses, and mentoring sessions. We’ll be there (virtually, of course) to learn from their speakers (including Etsy’s Michael Yap and Shopify’s Temi Adeniyi) how we can grow as leaders and to reconnect with our amazing global community. $395–$895. The Conference: March 2 through 4. Online.

A History of Arab Graphic Design.

Guided by speakers Bahia Shehab and Haytham Nawar, both practicing artists and designers, A History of Arab Graphic Design will take us on an exploration into how Islamic art, Arabic calligraphy, cinema, political events, and the arrival of the internet have impacted Arab graphic design. We’ll study the work of over 80 key designers from Morocco to Iraq, from pre-1900 to the end of the twentieth century. $2.50–$5. March 11, 10:00 to 11:00 am PST. Online.

SXSW Online 2021.

Join us in celebrating the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries at the South by Southwest Conference & Festivals. For 2021, all offerings—including Conference sessions, Music Festival showcases, Film Festival screenings, and world-class networking—will be offered online. We’d love to attend all 230 panels and keynotes, and somehow we’ll have to choose from the lineup that features big names like Erin Lee Carr, Dominique Crenn, Cynthia Erivo, Taraji P. Henson, Barry Jenkins, Queen Latifah, Baratunde Thurston, and Chris Webber. $249. March 16 through 20. Online.

Listening More + Speaking Less: White Folx as Allies for Equitable Outcomes.

Effective ally work, we know, requires people who identify as white and/or benefit from white privilege to acknowledge and leverage their privileges, power, and access to amplify individuals with historically underinvested identities. We plan on attending this event to better understand how our identities may have an impact on others, challenge ourselves to identify how racism shows up in our own behavior, and develop anti-racist practices as design allies. Please note: This event might be sold out. Get on the waitlist or—better yet—sign up for Creative Reaction Labs’ email list so you get first access. $25. March 18, 9:00 to 11:00 am PDT. Virtual.

In/Visible Talks 2021 Recap: Inspiration, Talks, and Takeaways

At the fourth annual—and first-ever all-virtual—In/Visible Talks conference, we explored how we can Re:Design our world.

At the fourth annual—and first-ever all-virtual—In/Visible Talks conference on January 14, we found ourselves in the in-between of pre- and post-pandemic lives. This past year we’ve also faced life-changing economic, political, and racial strife. While we know this space is filled with fear, anger, and frustration, we also know this space is ripe for Re:Invention. 

And so, we gathered together—designers, artists, creative thinkers, students, educators, change-makers, activists—to talk and listen and explore how we might inspire each other to “Re:Design” our world, to expand it, to make it more inclusive and equitable. “Creativity has the power to bring us together and to heal,” INVT Co-Founder Arianna Orland said in her opening message. “I believe that ideas can take us from stagnation to action. I believe that in action, there is hope.”

Our hope was bolstered by the Talks and Creative Bursts given throughout the day by an international lineup of speakers and presenters. They inspired us with their candidness, courage, and willingness to enact change. They broke down stereotypes, challenged us to move beyond complacency, and Re:Imagine, Re:Think, and Re:Everything.

The videos of all the talks are still up on the platform. If you bought a ticket to the 2021 talks, you can access them via the unique link you used on the 14th. If not, you can still grab a post-conference pass here. We invite you to revisit them whenever you need to be Re:Inspired.

Meanwhile, here are some of the highlights:

Stephen Gates reminded us of biases in everyday objects (Pokémon, soap dispensers!) and challenged us to work together for solutions. “Hope is not a strategy, hope does not get it done, hope is not going to get us where we need to go,” he said.

During her Creative Burst, Tina Touli encouraged us to train our eyes to see everyday things from different angles. “Sometimes, you know, it’s just a matter of looking at what you have in front of you.”

As an educator, Elaine Lopez helps her students reclaim and take pride in their cultural identities. “We need to make room for all of these narratives,” she said, and we, as designers, can “help ease the mistrust and polarization that currently exists in the world.”

A prompt in a writing class inspired Debbie Millman’s “Number 53,” an animated story she shared with us in which a man “thinks about the night before and wishes he was back in the dirty bar with the bad martini. Or better yet, that he was back in bed with a dirty girl from the bar.”

“It is important that diversity inclusion doesn’t just show up in our products,” Renee Reid said. “Diversity and inclusion and equity have to show up in the actual community.” She inspired us by sharing some of the work Inneract Project is doing.

Chanelle Ignant’s music warmed us up before the conference launched in the morning, then she lifted us up again during a Creative Burst with her live performance of “A Prayer for 2021.” In the chat, one attendee wrote, “Physically I’m in my room right now, but your music has transported me to a warm beach.”

“Pay attention to those funny feelings,” Sara Cantor said in her talk, “because they’re trying to tell you your values.” It was funny feelings (including guilt) that motivated Sara to reconsider her role as designer and “expand the center” in human-centered design.

We’re all thinking about “the sound of stars having a conversation” after Christine Sun Kim shared her beautiful and evocative “[Closer Captions]” video during a Creative Burst.

Our most important responsibility is to inspire, Bruce Mau said as he called us to action. “Most designers don’t really understand how powerful they are,” he said. “We have the ability to envision the future, and the future that we envision is the future we will live.”

Designer, filmmaker, storyteller, and artist Lawrence Weiner spoke to us through a short film by Hillman Curtis and Debbie Millman. “You are in the stream of life whether you like it or not…and you have to accept the responsibilities.”

“As designers, our job is uncomfortable,” Fri Forjindam reminded us, as she unpacked the word “reclaim” and explored how we might work through a creative brief for America 2050. But designers have an advantage, she said, for “your life experience is your creative superpower.”

We hope you’ll revisit the videos throughout the year and keep in touch. For announcements and information about upcoming Salons, Workshops, and other special events, visit the In/Visible Talks website and keep an eye out for blog posts and eblasts.

And now, let’s Re:Design the future that lies ahead!

February 2021 Design & Art Event Hotlist

Hotlist February 2021

INVT’s curated list of “must do” creative events is designed to inspire.

It’s a new day, it’s a new dawn, and we’re fired up to channel all the goodness from In/Visible Talks 2021 into our creative lives!

A shout-out to anyone who is getting our monthly “Hotlist” post for the first time. Here’s what they’re about: Each month, INVT co-founders and practicing designers Arianna Orland and Dava Guthmiller review their many invitations to Design & Art events around the San Francisco Bay Area and create a curated list of what they “must-do”. In sharing their list, we hope to motivate you to try new things, explore new places, and get inspired.

In keeping with the sheltering-in-place precautions, this month’s events are virtual. We hope we all get our vaccines soon so we can gather together in person again. Till then…

Outsider Art Fair.

Now in its 29th year, this fab fair includes seven exhibitions across five locations. Check out “Semiotic Terrain: Art from Australia and New Zealand”, “Figure Out: Abstraction in Self-Taught Art”, and “The Realm of Minnie Evans”. We’re also excited to support the 13 artists from San Francisco’s Creativity Explored who will be part of it. $15 for an all-access pass. January 29 to February 7. Online (and at multiple locations across New York City, if you’re lucky enough to be there).

IXDA 21.

Interaction Week is a series of design events that will inspire us to engage in conversations about “Design in Perilous Times” and delve into the themes of anger, accountability, and action. What led us to this place? How can we solve the problems of our generation? Let’s figure out how we—as a global interaction design community—can come together and change our path forward. $165–$500. January 31 to February 5. Online.

Poetry & Calligraphy with the Asian Art Museum.

We’re celebrating the Year of the Ox! Poets Michael Warr and Chun Yu will read works in English and Chinese (Mandarin) that reflect the essence of the New Year (vanquishing the past, embracing new beginnings, and venerating ancestors), while internationally renowned artist Aiqin Zhou illustrates some of the poems with her calligraphy. $0–$25. February 4 at 7:00 pm PST. Online.

Landing Day! Countdown to Mars LIVE.

On February 18, the newest Mars rover, Perseverance, will attempt to land on the Red Planet. This is NASA’s latest mission to Mars, and the Exploratorium is bringing us live coverage of Landing Day. If you’ve ever dreamed of being an astronaut, here’s your (virtual) chance to investigate the journey to Mars, experience the nail-biting excitement of landing, and learn about what the scientists will be looking for. Free. February 18 at 12:00 pm PST. Online.

MOVE IT! Dazzling Type Animation Workshop.

Whether you’re creating an Instagram post or an ad, or simply looking for a way to tell a story in a new way, making letters move is super cool. Zipeng Zhu, aka Mr. Dazzle, will teach us how to animate type and give it the ultimate dazzling splash. Bring your own words and learn how to use After Effects transformations and transitions to bring them to life. $360. February 27, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm PST. Online from Letterform Archive.

Five Questions with Tina Touli: Creative Director & Graphic Communication Designer

5 Questions header image of Tina Touli

After joining us at INVT21, Creative Burst and Evening Workshop Leader Tina Touli talks about finding creative inspiration in “objects”.

How can we train our eyes to really “see” everything around us? Tina Touli helped us with this at INVT21 when she led a mid-morning Creative Burst on “Inspiration from the Everyday” and expanded on the topic in “Blending the Physical & Digital World”, one of our Evening Workshops.

A London-based creative director, graphic communication designer, maker, speaker, and educator, Tina runs Tina Touli Design, her own multidisciplinary studio, and teaches at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. In 2017, Print Magazine named her one of the 15 “Best Young Designers in the World”, and her work has been presented at events and conferences including the Adobe MAX, the FITC Amsterdam, and the Bump Festival.

Tina loves experimenting and working on different projects that require diverse skills and techniques. Here are some more insights into her creative life.

What did 2020 bring into focus for you that you want to Re:Make, Re:Think, Re:Imagine, or Re:Design for 2021?

During 2020, things feel a bit different. Time seems to have stopped, even if it is still rolling. My body is stuck in a room, but my mind is still traveling around. I’m stepping back from my everyday routine, having an inner self-endoscopy. I’m exploring the actual value of life, learning how to appreciate simple everyday things that were taken for granted.

What is your relationship to the creative process?

For me, creativity is all about process. It is a journey of experimentation. Sometimes the strongest designs come from a simple concept and by trying things out, from experimenting and exploring the possibilities. I really enjoy interacting with the “objects” from the digital and the physical world, leaving them to lead the way, even if things work out differently from the initial thoughts. Once you interact and understand the strengths and weaknesses of the objects, they can become your tools or prototypes or even the design outcomes.

How or where do you find inspiration?

Anything around me that can stimulate any of my senses can be inspirational and an “object” for investigation. A hole on a paper, a glass of water, the ribbon that we use to wrap our presents, even our sketchbook as an object itself. There is so much inspiration in the physical world that we tend to ignore and could implement in our work.

What was one of your biggest creative challenges?

To make every single project that I am working on the best project that I have ever created.

When did you first realize you needed to be in a creative field?

I always loved communicating and expressing myself through any form of art. Since I was little, I was keen on dancing, drawing, and playing music. A friend of my parents had a piano, and whenever we were visiting her, I was always trying to play some kind of a melody. After I implored my parents for a while, they signed me up for piano lessons, and that led me to study music in high school. Soon, I realized I enjoyed playing the piano and the violin just for me and for expressing myself. However, it was not really my dream to become a musician. I was more thinking of becoming a mathematician, a physicist, or an architect. It was only a few months before graduating that I realized what I wanted to do in my life. When a friend told me about design, a field that would allow me to combine everything that I was passionate about—audio, motion, visuals—I got into a Graphic Design course and fell in love with design and creativity.

Bonus Round: What’s on your desk?

I like it when it is “nice and clean” with very few objects on it. It really helps me focus on my work.