Black Designers Ignite 2021 speakers! It was broadcasted live on Crowdcast on Sunday, August 22 and below are the speakers’ bios.


CECIL CROSS

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Dallas, TX

Cecil Cross is a 20 year veteran of the creative industry. As Associate Creative Director at Idea Grove, he brings a unique global perspective with his knowledge of B2B tech marketing and design strategy from a career of in-house roles. His career spans retail, education, government, technology, and broadcast, with work being showcased in over a dozen countries in up to 6 languages.


ABRIANA J.

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Chapel Hill, NC

Abriana Johnson is a brand strategist/designer, author, podcaster and equestrian. With over 20 years of horse experience, she blended her passion for entrepreneurship, design, and horses into her business Black Unicorn Creative, a creative agency that teaches horse business owners how to optimize their online presence through brand development and strategy. When she’s not designing brand assets or serving her equipreneur clients, she enjoys podcasts, books and gardening. Abriana co-hosts Young Black Equestrians the podcast and solo hosts The Digital Hoofprint podcast. She has authored, illustrated and published 3 children’s books in the Cowgirl Camryn book series, a book series about horses, cowgirls and farm life. Abriana spends a lot of time traveling with her miniature horse Encore and working with community organizations to share Cowgirl Camryn, equestrian life, and the joys of entrepreneurship. 


SUPASTAR RELL

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Queens, NY


Jorrell [Supastar Rell] is the #LordOfTheRealms. A Hip Hop lyricist from Queens, NY that writes his own music and designs merchandise that promotes his songs or projects! In addition, he also produces his own tracks and shoots/edits his own videos along side his brother, EJ2WAVY. Creativity has always been a tool or even a superpower of his. Through the power of innovation Supastar Rell uses real life experience to design art that reflects the times and speaks life to the universal “God” in all people. His goal is to inspire and enlighten through various forms of art and expression, while learning new skills and earning a better life. 


EMEALIA HOLLIS

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Atlanta, GA

“My name is Emealia Hollis and I am a Senior Designer and Branding Specialist in the Atlanta, GA area. I have a passion for branding and creating designs on purpose for a purpose. As a lifelong learner, I am always searching to grow and expand my knowledge of other perspectives and topics. My hope is to share my talents and knowledge to enhance the design community and encourage the people I meet along the way.”



SHARRYL CROSS

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Detroit, MI

Sharryl Cross is an American Artist and Fashion Designer from Detroit, Michigan who earned a Bachelor of Science in Apparel and Textile Design from Michigan State University. She moved to New York City in 2008 to work in the fashion industry and built a successful career designing for reputable brands like Macy’s I.N.C., Elizabeth and James for Kohl’s, J. Crew, Juicy Couture, and many other powerhouse mass market brands. After moving back to the Detroit area in 2020 she decided to start her own contemporary collection of dresses.

Known for her love of dresses, Sharryl found herself in search of an affordable well-designed timeless silhouette, with the right amount of detail. That passion led her to create signature Rosa Dress, the perfect dress to be worn for multiple occasions.

Her process is carefully thought out from her painted prints to fabric selection, each style is meant to make a woman feel feminine and beautiful with a little bit of edge. She designs quality, timeless pieces for the modern woman’s closet. With her customers in mind Cross says,“I want my customers to know she can always find the perfect dress at Truth.”


DEON MIXON

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Detroit, MI

Deon Mixon is a graphic designer, author, and entrepreneur from Detroit, MI who specializes in brand identity design. He is an alumnus of Cass Tech (2013) and Western Michigan University (2017) with his BFA in Graphic Design. Mixon is a Bill Gates Millennium Scholar, designer of the Detroit Rise Flag (a new flag for the City of Detroit), author of the Lethal Creed Saga, and creator of the world’s premier graphic design education board game, Design Eye. While a movieworm and student of Krav Maga, Spanish, and Japanese, Mixon believes not in creating for himself but in giving great design to the world to help realize and voice ideas for others.


CHRIS MCCULLOUGH

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Brooklyn,NY

Christopher Mccullough is a Photographer Based out of Brooklyn,NY Born September 3,1990. Raised in A Single Parent Household and to a Blue collar Family he attempted to go to school and enter the work force traditionally.As time Progressed and Chris began to Travel, Learn, experience and Discover his own identity Chris picked up a Camera in 2015 redirecting his career. Since then he has walked in his purpose curating creative projects also being commissioned to do what he loves, Photography. Follow him on his Journey to show you his world though the lens of his Camera. “This Art, not content”.


ASIA REYNOLDS

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Palm Harbor, FL


“I’m a graphic designer and illustrator based out of Florida. I have been creating work for over 4 years using my experience with photography, illustration, and design to prove that print is not dead. I started as a photographer but later found that design was where I wanted to be. During the pandemic, my love for illustration grew and it was added to my roster. Since then, I have networked with several designers from major publications, worked with amazing nonprofits, and somehow convinced myself that I’m more talented than I thought.


KERRY MCPHEARSON

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Atlanta, GA

‘I’m an audiophile who collects vinyl and dropped out of college before it was cool. I also collect Pokemon cards and study art for the fun of it. I always had an appreciation for design and used to push Microsoft Publisher to its limits; but it wasn’t until I worked in technical support roles where I saw how ‘software updates’ just made the problem worse for many customers that I decided to become a product designer. 

Using the same consistent practice that allowed me to become a top musician in high school/college, I have been able to work on products that millions of people use. At Inspire Brands, I work with product managers, developers, and a small team of designers to improve the customer flow and franchise platforms of household names like SONIC, Arbys, Buffalo Wild Wings, etc. It’s only been two years since I started, but I can’t wait to work on projects that make an even bigger impact on people’s lives such as improving mass transit, infrastructure, education, self-sustainability, and anything that makes the world more egalitarian.”


Eric D. Jackson, MFA

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Murfreesboro, TN

Eric D. Jackson, MFA is an instructor in Art & Design Department at Tennessee State University and owner of Jackson Designz. A native Memphian, Eric’s attraction to the visual arts was solidified in High School while attending “Saturday School” at Memphis College of Art. A few years later while attending college, his entrepreneurial spirit was birthed leading to the official launch of Jackson Designz in 2001. He began his teaching career at Nossi College of Art and Middle Tennessee State University, teaching typography, branding, web, and various graphic design courses. He is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design and Full Sail University with a Master of Fine Arts in Media Design. Eric serves on the board of AIGA Nashville as Secretary (a local chapter of AIGA, the professional association of design and is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Eric is the father of four awesome individuals, Ashantie, Malik, Jayden, and Myla. Eric is a creative leader who inspires while serving as a conceptual visionary and a skilled creative designer, making certain that work is of a consistent, high quality. During his career, Eric has worked with a diverse clientele associated with general & higher education, nonprofits, religious based organizations, government, and finance to name a few. He’s developed, collaborated, and directed several initiatives ranging from print and digital ads to out-of-home executions, website designs, collateral marketing materials, branding/Identity and campaign development.


ANT MCDONALD

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Brooklyn, NY

Anthony McDonald (Ant) is a Brooklyn based artist whose intersection of realism and fantasy in portrayals of people of color produces a vibrant, cartoon style. Pieces are created in any combination of mediums including digital, painting, and drawing. Alongside his personal style, Ant produces a wide range of design services. His scope of clients include small businesses extending from collectives, hair and skin care brands to other artists, musicians, and clothing brands.


ELIJAH CLAUDE

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Atlanta, GA

“Since 3rd grade, I’ve been obsessed with inventing hovercars and exploring fantasy lands. These passions, along with living in poverty, fueled my ambitions to change the world. Since having to opt-out of college, I explored Fortune 500s, startups, and a number of positions to find my path towards radical change. However, I fell asleep at meetings, got stuck pushing around primitives with javascript, and got depressed about not making a difference in those jobs. 

I operated Georgia’s first virtual reality arcade and turned it into one of the highest rated arcades in the world through exceptional customer service design. After seeing thousands of people get excited to experience virtual reality, yet struggle with the new tech, I resolved to build more accessible XR experiences. Today, I’m learning how to design sufficiently advanced technologies with a human-centered approach.

All of this is just a small part of my Journey to Become a TechnoWizard. I hope to share more of my story with you soon!”


BREON WATERS II

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Los Angeles, CA

Breon is a Senior Product Designer at Rocket Insights. He’s also the founder of the design collective, People by Design. However, his most important title is father (of Essie & Makai).To Breon, Design is about making people take action and solving problems. He’s not afraid to inject humor or a healthy amount of weirdness into a project to create something that resonates with people. Breon learned the foundations of design and injecting play into his work while studying at Art Center College of Design.


Matshoshi Matsafu

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Minneapolis, MN

“I am a South African nomad, User Experience Designer, Illustrator, and all round creatrix. My immersion into multiple cultures feeds my curiosity, leading me toward a futurist, human-centric approach to design. I’ve long exercised my creative sense to develop digital and tactile products. Living in South Africa, Korea and now the US, I have taken every opportunity to dive into learning, discerning patterns, behaviors, and implementing experience design as a whole to solve real-life problems.

I’m always seeking collaboration with folx to create engaging, delightful, and impactful work from a lens of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. I aspire to build/design immersive experiences, art, and tech that center blackness and amplify our stories.”


BAILEY ELYSE

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Raleigh, NC

Bailey Elyse is a senior graphic design major at Howard University, and is based in Washington DC. She currently works as a designer at Ojii Creative which she loves. Bailey finds the best part of working for Ojii is it gives her the freedom to be part of a collective of black designers and artist’s who focus on the positive cultivation of their team. Designing for 4 years, Bailey also takes a personal interest in painting focusing on oil painting. Through her painting, she likes to connect with her audience by focusing on personal narratives.


CECLEY HILL

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
New York, NY

Cecley is an urban planner committed to enhancing social justice aims across built landscapes. She is currently working on a mix of economic development, housing equity, and transportation access projects at planning and design firm, Asakura Robinson. Prior to joining the AR team, Cecley worked at a Boston based consultancy, leading creative placemaking projects and engagement efforts in low-income communities.

Cecley holds a BA in architecture and dance from Columbia University, and recently completed her Master’s degree in Urban Planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), with distinction. At the GSD, she served as co-president of AfricaGSD, a student organization dedicated to centering African designers and work. This fall Cecley will resume research begun at the GSD in Tanzania, positing solutions to rethinking port infrastructure along the coast.


KEVIN ADAMS

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
New York, NY

Kevin Adams is a lettering artist and typeface designer based in New York City. His typographic-centered designs combine elements of pop art, graffiti and propaganda art. Known for his bright color palettes and highly detailed letterforms, his work has appeared in Entrepreneur Magazine, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, and Typism books 4, 5, and 7. Recently, he was featured in editorials about his work by The Brooklyn Circus and Type Magazine.

In the wake of a global pandemic and civil unrest, Kevin’s work has been evolving. Currently, he finds a great deal of inspiration from African-American music which has helped to uplift souls, express pain, and give social commentary on the Black experience. In his work, Kevin has addressed topics like equal pay for women, mental wellbeing, cultural appropriation and the importance of actionable allyship.

Last summer, Kevin advocated for better representation for people of color in the lettering and type community. His efforts lead to platforms such as Typism taking this baton to amplify voices that may be neglected in the art and design community. In addition, Kevin was one of 12 artists to create an open pack of free downloadable posters for Fine Acts – ready to be used in action with the goal of dismantling racism and building anew during the civil unrest that affected our country.


CURT POPE

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Silicon Valley, CA

“I was born and raised in the Bay Area. Formerly, I was the founder of a startup in the mobile retail space. Once it was acquired, I had the opportunity to work with and lead technical teams at great brands like Google, Gap, Old Navy, Verizon, HuffPo, Yahoo, Allstate, Kaiser Permanente, Stanford, and PG&E in the spaces of mobile/web, UX, innovation, and digital transformation. Daily I  use all of my skills ( Technical, UX, Coaching) to move technology and initiatives forward, however, I can add value. New technologies, and innovative user experiences, drive me. Uncharted territory is my favorite place to go. I believe that an optimistic attitude and a willingness to have a “beginner” mindset can take you far. I love drinking tea (and sometimes coffee), and this past year, I have really been enjoying rowing. My other hobbies are reading any comic book I can get my hands on, helping startups, and sewing.”


NICOLE COOPER

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Seattle, WA

Nicole Cooper is a design director at Work & Co. She has experience in various industries, designing for the fashion, education, journalism, finance, entertainment, and technology sectors with clients such as Facebook, Eli Lilly, Tableau, VMWare, AT&T, Microsoft, Oracle, and T-Mobile. Nicole can problem-solve with UX design, visual design, and brand thinking while delivering beautifully crafted products. She believes that brand thinking can result in more engaging and bespoke solutions. She is passionate not only about how a product works but also about how it makes users feel.


Dillon Narcisse

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Lafayette, LA

Hailing from Louisiana. Dillon Narcisse (@dillonnarcisse) is a graduate of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he came across the paths of Business and Industrial Design. He uses a holistic approach, coming from a background of being a self-learned graphic designer of 13 years. Now he is a multidisciplinary designer working at the intersection of brand and product development, using his experiences in graphic, industrial, and user experience to help small brands and startups grow.

A lover of good stories and even better design, Dillon is very passionate about using strategic thinking and storytelling to help leverage the experiences of brands throughout every touchpoint. Coming from a demographic where design is not prominent,  Dillon services the community through mentoring and fostering collaboration, evangelizing about all things design and inspiring others to embrace their journey to be creators of their own narratives.


DREA

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
LA > San Francisco, CA

“Let’s get weird!” -A mantra that encompasses who Dréa is at her core. Born in Tacoma, Washington and raised throughout Oregon, this Pacific Northwest native has fully embraced going against societal norms! This rebel at heart and self taught artist began her journey at age 11 with portrait drawings she would make from pictures of her older sister. This same sister introduced her to the works of Salvador Dalí and Dréa instantly fell in love. It’s the complete freedom within Dalí’s creativity, the odd and abstract yet insanely alluring components that Dréa says is the largest influence in her personal work today. Her work expanded from drawing to painting to photography to digital collage and at times she combines these disciplines creating work that’s extremely unique. Dréa has steadily practiced art for nearly 20 years and launched her website www.wyzechild.com at the top of her 29th birthday. 


CAITLIN CREWS

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
PA/NYC

Caitlin Crews was born in Pittsburgh PA, lived in Brooklyn for the past 13 years and is currently residing in Philadelphia PA. Caitlin  is the Content Development, Design Templates Lead at Adobe.  Her focus is on the advancement of creatives through design on the Adobe Stock Team. Caitlin is the lead for Black Employee Network in NYC for Adobe (BEN), Adobe for All site lead and is a member of the Taking Action Task Force for Advocacy and Responsibility at Adobe. She is a graduate of Kent state university, where she majored in Photography, Art History and Creative writing. Caitlin also received her Master’s in Art and Cultural Management from Pratt Institute.

Previously, she worked as a Curatorial Assistant at the Brooklyn Museum, At Nautica she was a still life photographer and retoucher.  She was also a design and photo coordinator at Lord & Taylor and Victoria’s Secret. Her curatorial and community projects include Art 4 WTC (2017) Northside Festival Block Party (2013-2018), Brooklyn Public at World Trade Center Gallery (2015), Curatorial Assistant for Art in Odd Places RECALLed (2015). Caitlin has written for Got a Girl Crush Magazine, as well as a current member of the ISCP Young Patrons Committee. She received her M.P.S in Arts and Cultural Management from Pratt Institute and her B.S. in Photography from Kent State University.


JARVIS MOORE

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Oklahoma City, OK

Jarvis is a Senior Product Designer at NerdWallet, where he works on their design systems team. He is a proud founding partner of Black UX Labs, with a goal to diversify the tech space. Jarvis is also a mentor, who uses his unconventional path into tech to inspire others. His passion is to show people that you don’t always need a degree to accomplish your dreams.Outside of design, Jarvis is a loving father of two, a hobbyist photographer, and avid sneaker collector. For Jarvis, family comes first. They are his source of motivation, and without them, he would not be the man he is today.


GABRIELLE MODESTI

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Birmingham, Alabama 

“Hello Lovelies! I am Gabrielle Modesti, Founder&Ceo of g’Whipps. I was born  and raised in Pasadena, California and I am a proud Alum of Tuskegee University with a BA in Psych & Auburn University with a MA in Community Planning with a specialization of Urban Design. My design niche is natural hair and skin care products. These aren’t just the average hair care products, they are customized for specific ailments that people have issues with as well as being customized to YOUR liking. You request it I make it.

In addition, being a product of Postpartum Depression and suffering from severe hair loss, I had to design another outlet to target hair loss in mothers as well as to target mental health in postpartum & marriage. This is done by creating a more diverse platform to provide knowledge to mothers/ husbands that don’t know about the new rollercoaster of emotions that will come from having a child, balancing a marriage and dealing with hormone levels. 

It’s for the love. It’s for the wellness. Its for the awareness.”


DANNII

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Washington D.C.

CEO of Danniigraphy.Media.
Dannii is a Photographer/Filmmaker and content creator based out of DC.  She is a junior Digital Media major at the University of the District of Columbia who focuses on Film and Digital Video Production. Danielle is thrilled to see the world through the lens of her camera. She is eager to learn about people and hopes for her experiences through storytelling, photographs, videos and writing.  She believes that through developing her skills in digital media and mass communication she can become a better storyteller and advocate for those who are like her.

“I can fly, I just need a camera.”
– Dannii


DELAUN ANDERSON

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Dallas, TX


Delaun is an Art Director and Designer based out of Dallas, Texas who specializes in illustration, branding, and motion graphics. He has a B.A. in Advertising from University of North Texas and attended the Creative Circus. He’s currently an Art Director for VMLY&R Commerce working on Ferrara candy brands. Delaun is very passionate about exploring the various design processes through experimentation and designing with a purpose.


BRANDON SIMS

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
New Jersey

“Hey my name is Brandon and I’m a motion graphics artist based in New Jersey. I was inspired to go into art and design  since I was young. I found a lot of entertainment through TV programs like Cartoon Network adult swim which helped me embrace being creative.

I recently graduated from college with my associates in digital media arts multimedia. A very broad major that allowed me to Be able to explore different mediums photoshop to traditional art. Here’s where I got exposed to after effects which I got accustomed to very quickly. I was able to make logo animations and many different video effects.  One of my goals is to get eventually to break into the animation field to start telling my own stories.”


ZARIAH CAMERON

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Atlanta, GA


Zariah Cameron is a Senior Graphic Design student, at North Carolina A&T State University, pursuing a career in UX Design. She aims to cultivate a sense of community within her work and amplify the voices and stories of marginalized communities, specifically the black community. She has a passion for strategically placing equity and inclusivity at the forefront of her design work.She is also the founder of the AEI Design Program, an initiative that provides resources and virtual events to prep Black design college students, for the industry.She co-leads her own podcast where she infuses her love for poetry, creativity, women empowerment & healing.She is currently interning at Ally Finanical where she is also helping to drive an Inclusive Design methodology for the design organization.


Akinyemi / Yemi Fapohunda

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
Brooklyn, NY

Akinyemi is a Nigerian / American Industrial Designer based in Brooklyn NY. He earned his degree from Parsons the New school for Design. Yemi currently works for a consumer electronics company based in NJ Where is has earned multiple patents and brought many products to major stores. As a creative and designer, Yemi is very hungry and strives to bring otherworldly ideas to life through industrial design. As an Empath, he strives to create products that connect with my users and their environment.


MATTHEW SUBER

2021 Black Designers Ignite Speaker
San Francisco, CA

Native to Midtown Atlanta, Matthew has spent the last 12 years as a designer leading various products like the CNN Mobile suite, mobile POS platform for retailers, and more recently, was Lead Product Desginer Facebook’s Ads Targeting platform and Mid-flight Recommendations before shifting product domains. Currently, Matthew is a Product Designer at Opendoor working on internal facing tools the enable the business to serve customers buying and selling their homes.

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