October 11, 2019

Five Questions with Jerome Harris: Housing Works’ Design Director

Multitalented graphic designer Jerome Harris challenges and inspires us to create in ways that serve our communities. Currently based in Brooklyn, New York, Jerome holds an MFA in Graphic Design from Yale University and a BA from Temple University. In addition to his work as the Design Director of Housing Works, a nonprofit organization fighting the HIV/AIDS and homelessness crisis in New York City, Jerome has curated “As, Not For”, a touring exhibition that celebrates African American graphic designers active in the 20th century.

Jerome DJs under the moniker DJ Glen Coco, and he maintains an ongoing choreographic practice. (Check out his moves on Instagram at @32counts.)

We are thrilled that this much-in-demand speaker will be joining us on the main stage at January’s In/Visible Talks 2020. Till then, here’s your chance to get to know a bit about Jerome and what drives his creative life.

What is your relationship to the creative process?

“We’re friends…sometimes.”

How or where do you find inspiration?

“Research, mostly. Sometimes the most clever ideas and references are hidden in an image caption within a scholarly article, or in the last 30 seconds of a YouTube lecture. Conversation with anyone about anything comes second to research. Amateurs (across history and practices) offer new logical pathways in their naiveté, which has also been inspirational.”

What was one of your biggest creative challenges?

“Avoiding everything arbitrary. It’s easy to be default, and taking the hard route is challenging every time I am tasked with making something.”

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

“As a teenager. (First job, at age 14, was as a camp counselor in New Haven, Connecticut.) I saw so many people unhappy with their jobs, and I promised myself that I would do a job that didn’t feel like work, to be honest. I got a neck tattoo when I was 23, so there was no looking back at that point.”

What drives you to create?

“A more radical impulse to disrupt through visuals, more than anything else. There’s no reason to design if you don’t have something to say, or a community to serve. It’s like baby talk otherwise: an effort to express, but nonsense nonetheless.”

Bonus Question: What’s your favorite color?

“Green, because the human eye can see the most shades of it. #nerd”