I think I waited too long to really try to do my own thing. Like the strikeout is like, dude, like, have my own business. I waited too long to try to fit into a mold that I don't think I was made for. You know, when I graduated college in 2003 did a bunch of like customer service, he typed up I was like a telemarketer I help car dealers at Auto Trader got fired from every job I had, like, I just wasn't in like, my heart wasn't intuitive, and got my first creative job. And then I was sort of hearing all this stuff about oh, you just have a bachelor's degree, you have to get a master's because the you know, the bachelors is a new high school diploma. And the Masters is a new bachelor's and I went to graduate school for three years, got my master's degree. And I just felt like I was trying to fit into a mold that like this doesn't work for me, I need to break out and then I left my job at AT and T started my studio. And I feel like that's when I really started to realize my own potential. So I feel like I would have, I should have realized my own potential sooner. Instead of trying so hard to fit into this particular mold that I think society had carved out for me at that stage in my life.
What's up everyone? Welcome to works in process, the podcasts about uncovering creative methodologies from people doing inspiring work. In each episode, whether I'm talking to a designer, and educator or an entrepreneur, we learn the hows and whys behind their work. Through experiences and determination, my guests explored the techniques and inspiration that have helped them navigate their creative careers. I'm your host designer and educator George Garrastegui, Jr. Joining me as I look to elevate the creative process by shifting the focus to how we work over what we produce.
On today's episode, I want to welcome Maurice cherry Reese is a designer, strategist, and podcaster located in Atlanta, Georgia. He is principal and creative director at lunch and award winning multidisciplinary studio he created in 2008 that helps creative brands craft messages and tell stories for their targeted audiences, including fostering relationships with underrepresented communities. Maurice is a pioneering digital creator who is most well known for revision path and award winning podcasts and which is the first podcast to be added to the permanent collection of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. Other projects include Maurices black weblog awards, 28 days of the web, the year of T and the design anthology recognize more recent projects and overall design work and advocacy has been recognized by Apple, Adobe gravity, NPR, life hacker, print magazine, AIGA, Forbes Fast Company and many other print and digital outlets. He's also an educator that has built curricula and taught courses on web design, web development, email marketing, WordPress, and podcasting for 1000s of students over the past 10 years. Maurice is a Maryland Institute College of Art 2021 William O. Steinmetz, designer in residence, the 2018, recipient of the Steven Heller cultural commentary prize from AIGA, the recipient of creative loafing Atlanta's 2018 influentials in the field of business and technology, was named one of the GED USAA is people to watch in 2018 and was included in the 2018, the route 100, the annual list of the most influential African Americans, ages 25 to 45. It's a great honor to get him on the podcast. What's up Murray's thanks so much for joining me on works in process.
George, thank you so much for having me. I'm really looking forward to this.
I am so psyched to talk to you today in this capacity, but before we do, and dive in, let's clear your mind. I start every episode with a fun icebreaker. Are you down? Yeah, let's do it. Cool. So first is a series of this or that questions? Podcasting? Or guest speaking? Podcasting? breakfast or lunch? Breakfast? Writing, or designing, writing, print or digital? Digital hip hop or Jazz? Jazz? I thought you were gonna say lunch? Definitely. I couldn't believe that breakfast.
That will be a little too on the note.
That's kind of why I put it in there. I was like, What's he going to say? And secondly, some quick word associations. The first thing you think of when you hear these words, all right. Creativity, instinctual determination, innate business, serious. Failure, inevitable. Community. Necessary. Education, safety, mistakes, opportunities, skills, perks, history, knowledge, opera. tunity gamble. Accessibility overlooks future now. And of course, last but not least, process system. Awesome, awesome. This is just a perfect way to kind of start each episode and I want to really focus on like the instinct and not these canned responses that we always usually come up with. So thanks for that. Yeah, so we heard a lot about you at the top of the episode from your bio that I read. But let's find out a little bit more about your origin story. So, you know, this is what my listeners can learn how you were introduced Art and Design. Where did you grow up? And were you creative as a kid?
So I grew up in Selma, Alabama, which I think most people know about. Now, from the civil rights movement. There was also a movie that came out in the 2000s, about Selma. So that's where I grew up. I was kind of one of the first generation of kids after the whole Bloody Sunday incident. Was I a creative kid? I want to say yes. And well, the reason that I say it that way is because, you know, Selma for what it's worth, even back then, and I would say even more, so now. It's a very segregated town. And so I think my parents definitely did what they could to try to put me in the best possible environments, for learning and for just like picking things up, like my mother worked at a college teaching biology. My father was an engineer, General Electric. So like, I sort of was always around some type of, I guess you can call like, general nerdery. Like, I remember, early on, like, my mom had this big red physicians handbook that has all these like names of pills and stuff in and and I would look through the book and memorize the pills and stuff like that. She had old college textbooks, like her old biology, college textbook, or old French college textbook, and I would look at those and read through those. I would say yes, because I, you know, first of all, it's the country so there's not really anything to do, there's no Mall. There's no, I mean, you have like playgrounds and stuff when you're in school, but it's, it's pretty much home and church, like that's pretty much what it is. So there's a lot of free time to get into doing pretty much whatever it is that you want to do. So I'd say in that aspect. I was creative, because we didn't have a lot of anything to do. So we just kind of made do with what we have. Right?
Right. Yeah. I mean, creativity doesn't have to be what we, you know, this idea of like artsy and stuff like that, but creative and just being like, you know, we could figure out stuff on our own.
There were no art museums, or after school courses or anything like that. It was free time, a stack of like, I don't know, scrap paper my mom brought from work and my imagination, and then you just come up with stuff, you just do things, you know, we did have access to I mean, we have a public library and Selma, so I can go there and check out books and things on. I remember checking out books on origami, I would check out books on basic the programming. Oh, yeah, because we had or my brother, my older brother had a keyboard type computer called the laser 50 from VTech. It just had like this one line dot matrix screen, and it couldn't do anything because it was the 80s. But I learned how to program using that. Eventually, like graduated up to a larger noisier computer from V tech called the pre computer 1000. That's where I learned some more coding and like some rudimentary music skills and stuff. So yeah, it was a very creative time, because you just had nothing else to do. Like,
there was nothing else to do. Right, right. I mean, when you were talking about the stacks of paper, I remember my mom used to have the old dot matrix printers with the green and white paper, you know, what the little circles at the end that would like, just kind of like keep on feeding it. And I would just have reams and reams of that. That was like my, my cool thing I was like, because I also just like ripping off the edges, you know, it's one of those things. So who, if any, was a big supporter of you as a creative and your creative career?
I mean, I would have to probably say, of course, my mother, she's always even with just kind of the limited resources we had allowed the opportunity for me to pursue interest in options especially as a kid that you know, I don't think maybe many others would have like she let me really go into music when I was in middle school in high school like really get into that. She let me get into video games and drawing and things of that nature. So I would say her because she never really I think stopped me from trying to do creative things now stuff like going out to parties and things like that. She definitely would stop me. But if it was anything that was like an educational or creative pursuit, she didn't try to hold me back or or limit anything that I even as I became an adult and had my studio she would help out if I needed you know, if there was a low cashflow month, which can happen she'll send some money just to like tide me over until I get another client or something. So that's I was definitely say she's been like a huge supporter, in my creative endeavors like pants now. Yeah,
shout out to moms, yeah. What was your first creative job? And how did you stumble into it?
My first creative job, who I would say my first creative job was at the Georgia World Congress Center. So I was, how old was I was probably 2425. At the time. I just got fired from a job a couple of months before I started this new job. And I remember being on the phone, my mom and her being like, well, what are you gonna do? Like, you can't keep leaving these jobs to get fired from these jobs. You got this degree? What are you going to do? On a lark, I had applied to this position that was in the back of creative loafing, which is a weekly newspaper that's here in Atlanta, Georgia. And I applied for this position for an electronic media specialist. I felt like I had the skills because I was sort of, quote unquote, doing design in my spare time, which was essentially just using a cracked version of Photoshop, and copying, whatever tutorials I would see on websites or going into like Barnes and Noble and getting those like Photoshop Tips and Tricks books. And just like writing down the steps, and then going back home and trying to recreate it, I was just doing a lot of random design work, not like for a client or anything, because to kind of give a sense of when this was this was like 2004 2005. Okay. And so there wasn't, you know, product design really wasn't a thing. UX design wasn't really a thing. And I just applied on a whim, I didn't think that I would actually get a callback, but I did. And then I went down there. And I did two interviews. And that was my, my first design job was electronic media specialists. For the Georgia World Congress Center authority, which is this multimodal campus in Atlanta that's made up of Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia World Congress Center, which is like a convention center, the Georgia Dome Rest in peace, which is a sporting arena. That's where I used to host the Atlanta Falcons. So that was my first creative job was I got to do a little bit of everything I was doing web design, I was doing graphic design, we had like maps and stuff that were done in Illustrator. So I would do work with that. I even programmed our internal wayfinding system in the convention center, because there would be these screens that would show you like, go this way to get to building B this way to building a or this, you know, event is in B 205, or something like that. So I did all the wayfinding stuff for that as well as program these big outdoor like Mark keys that would be right on the road. You know, when you drive by something, then you see a big screen, right? This wasn't a screen though. This was literally like light bulbs that were screwed into this big black,
I don't know just flicker on and off depending on like the setup. Right?
Right. And so basically, when I had to design stuff for those that was like, you remember like, right, of course, it was very much like using light bright, but on a computer. So I would have to like go pixel by pixel, to map out the letters and do illustrations and stuff. There would be times when Oh, and this is really good. I had to dial into it with a modem in order to upload the images. And sometimes it wouldn't work. And I would have to get engineering to go out and like physically get inside the marquee reboot the computer in order for me to dial into it. Yeah, that was fun. That was a lot
is that 28.8 or 56? Like, was it remember the K rates?
It was definitely some like 28.8 Like, archaic sort of thing. You know, you dial up you hear all the sounds do you know that? Never just stuff took for it. I would have to literally like leave my office walk outside to see you to make sure that the images were up and everything. So it was a it was a different time back then it's a totally different time. But it was fun. Yeah, a lot of fun. A lot of hands on it looks like oh, yeah, absolutely.
So and then, you know, with all of that, when did you consider yourself a creative?
Because I think I've always had at least prior to starting my studio, I had design jobs, like I was Electronic Media Specialist at the Georgia World Congress Center for roughly about a year and a half. I did a six month stint at Web MD as a web services producer. I did roughly about two years at AT and T as a designer. I don't know if I would ever say I felt creative in those aspects. Because a lot of it was production based work, right? Where you're just kind of like taking something, doing your your little bit to it and then passing it on down the line to like QA or to another department. So there wasn't really a lot of room for creativity. It was more so just about executing on a design. I would probably say I consider myself a creative once I started my studio, which was in late 2008 and then got my first big clients, which was doing the borders for Atlanta campaign in 2009. Because that was something I mean, I had never done In politics, and this was the first set of municipal races after Obama became president for his first term. Okay? A lot of politicians were looking for that same level of design polish. But of course, they don't have Obama's budget. They don't have Obama's team, that they've got a version of Gotham that somebody gave them. And you can use that, right? You can use the Obama font is what they call it. Of course they did. I will say that was my first time really like feeling creative, because I got to really think outside the box on a lot of different things. I mean, how do you, I didn't know how to market a politician, right. But she believed in the work that I do, and believed in my skills, and the campaign was just such a great place to work. And it's really kind of a microcosm of working at a company like it, they start up in such a short amount of time, every day, you're working on stuff and weekends even. And then when the campaign ends, that's it you just kind of go your separate ways. But I think it was probably the first time because we had to do a lot of out of the box thinking our campaign definitely was the most kind of visually appealing out of other candidates that were running during that time, because they were still kind of pulling from this old. I want to say pre Obama like toolbox, but they weren't doing what we were doing. We were on MySpace, we were on Flickr, we were on meetup, we were on, of course, Twitter, and Facebook and stuff. And we were out there taking pictures. And we were really getting in front of people in a way that other candidates weren't right. And in a way, to me, it sort of felt kind of natural, because it was just I want to say sort of the beginnings of like social media in that way, at least with Twitter, you kind of felt that way. So that was I'd say probably the first time I felt that way.
Awesome. And I mean, like, it just sounds like, you know, there's an organic nature to it right now trying to force it, you're actually just doing the work. You're out there representing the politicians, but also seeing what's going on. And then being part of the beginnings of a lot of this social media, especially something like Twitter, and even being part of meetup or, or MySpace, things that are like totally different or even gone, you know, kind of right now. But yeah, that seems a great introduction of of just how you've been able to use what you have, like you said before, and starting to get and be able to make things happen in different types of jobs. That's awesome. Thank you for that.
Yeah. And I'd say a lot of the work also was really like, anticipatory, like, you never knew what the candidates were going to say. And so if something did happen, where they slammed the campaign, you have to bounce back like that. There's no, oh, we need to have a meeting and run it through focus groups and testing. Like, you have to get on it. Right away. It's like a spindle, because, yeah, because the campaigns are gonna be running as they run, you'd have to prepare for debates, things of that nature. There was a lot of times that I really was just pardon my language, I'm just pulling stuff out of my ass, like, let's do this. Okay, let's do it, and then see if it works, you know, because a lot of this stuff, again, was really untested. And at the time for a politician, not really something that they knew how to do, like, they didn't really know about social media and trying to convince them that like, you know, followers don't equal votes, like followers may get people to the polls, you know, but like, how do we run this, even on the actual election day running like a sort of ersatz like help hotline for people that were having troubles at the polls and things of that nature, like, spinning all that stuff up and doing it so quickly, and having to kind of just run with it really, sort of, I think, strengthened my design chops and allowed me to get to that ideation stage quicker and get to that execution stage a lot quicker than I think I would have if I would have stayed at, you know, like, at&t or something.
Yeah. Because I think that the fact of like iteration and constant iteration, right, and how to how to figure it out, kind of builds that muscle memory that you keep on doing it and redoing it, hopefully better or worse, sometimes the next time, but like you said, you're able to kind of do it more effectively, the next time. I think that's a big challenge in design it just kind of like, you can't just put it out there. And that's it. Right? You got to keep on working at it. And it seems like right, that working for a politician? Definitely. Because that stuff, we see the media right now, like every single second. And you know, this is obviously almost 15 years later, we see all of that move quickly.
Yeah. And I mean, also, I would say, you know, getting feedback very quickly to like, we could shoot a commercial. And we think the commercial is great. And then the commercial, like, hits the hits the television, and people are like, what is this? Yeah, this makes no sense. And, and this was also at a time when, you know, our candidate was running for mayor, which is a nonpartisan kind of race, right? But also it was at this time where, like Obama's coming in as a Democrat, Georgia is typically a red state. And so we had to kind of really put ourselves out like, yes, she's a Democrat, but then it's like, why does it matter? Right, it doesn't really matter, but it kind of matters. It's a very, very odd thing I mean, I think now politics is I, you couldn't pay me any amount of money to get back into it. But at the time that I did it, it was a lot of fun.
So I'll scrap that question of, you know, would you get back into politics?
Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, not not now, not in this climate? Absolutely not? No.
So thank you for that, you know, it's a really quick way to get a lot of information about your design career, how you started and kind of how influential was the people in your lives or where you come from. And one of the things I want to say is, in 2017, when I started this podcast, you one of the first people I talked to, and it definitely helped me understand what I was getting myself into. And it's so great that even after all, that I've stuck with it, and now I have you on my show? Well, so just want to say thank you a lot for that, because I think it really took this idea of of talking to people and gave it some real framework, because I was just kind of being like, yeah, I could just do this. It's no big deal. And it's so much more work than
Yeah, no, it's my pleasure. I mean, you know, I've been doing podcasting for a long time, not just my current show, but I really like started with podcasting back in oh, five. So I've kind of always had my hands on and in some capacity. I think with this, at least at the time, I'd say probably starting in 2013, which when I started revision path, you had this big sort of second wave of podcasting, where shows like cereal, for example, were getting big sponsors, a lot of people were like, oh, I want to do is I want to get into that, you know, podcasting thing, because I want the money, I want the prestige and XYZ but it's so much more than just getting a microphone and talking like it is a form that you have to work on, not just like your behind the scenes process of the show, but also the actual interviewing, and how do you get the most out of the guest. And it's something that depending on the type of show, I think that you have, you will craft and and cultivated over time. But because now I think the learning curve to be a podcaster is so flat, you've guessed, you just have like an abundance of people talking on a microphone, and then they may not stick with it, they may not see how much work it takes like to craft it into something that's going to be good takes work like it takes time to kind of get that process does. So I'm always happy to help out when I have time and where it's where it's necessary to like make sure that more people are creating great work.
Thank you like, once again, it was it was just an amazing conversation to like, open my eyes. Right. And so also, as I read right in your bio, which I said was extremely extensive. You have a plethora of entrepreneurial ventures and accomplishments, right? What gave you the itch to start in 2005, the black weblog awards.
So the black weblog awards came out of a time where I just felt black bloggers were not being recognized at all for the work that they were doing, to kind of give the listeners a sense of time here. I mean, we're saying 2005, the black weblog awards, I feel like that story really kind of starts with me first discovering the internet in 1995. In high school, like discovering it, we had a we had just gotten a supercomputer lab donated to our school from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. And that was like my first foray into like Netscape Navigator. 1.0. And, and discovering the internet and like staying in the computer lab after school and trying to figure out things and stuff like that, up to the point where I want to say in like, 97, is when I started doing stuff on Geo cities, like just playing around with HTML, we didn't have any HTML books in our library and the nearest bookstore, it was 50 miles away in montgomery. So it's just a lot of view source. Let me try this does this work? I don't know. But also at that time, you know, people were starting to create online destinations, you know, blogs, magazines, websites, what have you. And a lot of the stuff that I read and saw were from black people that were doing things on the web, so like urban box office, the online Hip Hop lyrics archive, for example, like their Shh, you know, all those types of sites, okay, player, these were places that I really kind of frequented a lot and kind of tried to learn about culture and stuff from but I never saw them really being recognized outside of kind of their respective audiences, right. And I was a blogger myself, I had a number of different like, pseudonyms, I'm not going to name them because I was a kid back then. And people don't even know all that. But I was kind of active during that time. And I knew a lot of people during that time doing great work at Big levels. Like I had a new designers at vibe that were like, designing Mariah Carey's website, designing Jennifer Lopez website, but nobody was recognizing them at all. And I want to say it was around like 2004 or so I saw that there were two weblog awards like events that were created. One was actually called the weblog awards. And the second one was sort of nicknamed the Bloggess. Okay, and that one sort of took place with a live event at South by Southwest every year. And one year, I think I saw the nominees for like, best African or Middle Eastern weblog, and all of the nominees were white, and the winner was white. And I'm like, You need to tell me out of the entire huge as continent of Africa, and the huge ass area of the Middle East, you found the five white people that were blogging, I refuse to believe that is the case. So to say that the early web was a time of discovery, I mean, it was also really a time of a lot of opportunity. If you saw something, or if you didn't see something out there that you wanted to do, you could just make it right, you could create it. And I think it's sort of still the case now with the web. But back then, absolutely, if there was something that you wanted to see done, you could just make it you didn't have to get permission or anything. And so I created the black weblog awards as a way to spotlight black bloggers that I knew were doing really great work. And like the first year that I did it in 2005. Like the graphics are really, when I look back at it, it's like, really bad embossed white text on a green background. It's not great, because it's 2000. Well, it's 2005. And I didn't go to Design School. So like this was, this was all stuff that I learned out of like a Photoshop Tips and Tricks book. Like it's not, it's not stellar design work. If anyone pulls it up and what and looks at it ain't great how to do
gradients and how to do.
Like, let me let me do this watermark by dropping the opacity. Like I thought I was doing like big shit, right. But I wanted to do it to find a way to really recognize what we were doing. And I didn't know if it would take off or not, right, because I didn't have an audience back then. I was just a guy in Atlanta, trying some stuff out. Let's see what we'll do. You know. And I was surprised by the feedback, because the first year when I did the awards, I just had people email, they're like, nominations and stuff. Like, yeah, just, you know, email me a blah, blah, whatever. That was a mistake. My internet service provider, and my hosting provider were like, Are you a spammer? Why are you getting all these emails? What is happening here? So the first year was really rough. But like every year afterwards, the demand and I think interest in the awards, just like ramped up at a huge scale. Like I feel like every year, it quadrupled in terms of traffic in terms of votes in terms of interests. So that was great. The fact that it really sort of took off in a way that I didn't think was going to happen, because I wasn't connected to anybody. I didn't have a network, I was just a guy doing some stuff. And I told some friends that I guess they told some friends, and eventually it sort of grew into what it was.
And it seems like how long was the awards go on for? So I
did them from 2005 to 2010. Okay. And then I sold them in 2011. And they continued with the new owner from 2011 to 2017.
Okay, so for you for five years, and like you mentioned, right, just knowing a bunch of people who are doing really amazing things, and not getting the recognition seems like a great way to start something right. And yeah, and when I look at also, the opportunity of the web, and even, like you said, the opportunity of what's going on, right, you know, with all the democratization of like creative tools now, kind of has that same energy, but the things that you keep on doing right, the weblog awards, 28 days, the web revision path, and now recognize all seem to be finding a void. Right?
Yeah, I think finding a void and then using my skills to try to fill that void in some capacity. You know, with 20 days of the web, for example, that's revision paths. Sister site, where it for every day in February, we showcase a different black designer or developer in conjunction with and a celebration with Black History Month. So I mean, you would see, to be clear, I didn't really invent the 28 days format, like February I said, 28 days, you know, who knows how long. And I really kind of picked up the idea from two people one being Wayne Sutton, who had like a 28 days of, I think black people on the web or something like that. And Tina shoulders who had something where it was 28 days of black interior designers, I want to say, I kind of got the idea from them and wanted to focus it just solely on the web. And so when I did my 20 days of the web, I wanted, you know, 14 men, 14 women make it you know, equal because it's 28 days. And for leap years, we'll toss in another person. And this was all publicly available information. So the people that kind of learned about it, learned about it when it happens. There wasn't any sort of like permission. I'm like, I'm pulling your public photo from LinkedIn, your public bio from your website, like all the words and everything here, I didn't write them. These are all you so we did that. Every year just as a way to try to one for Black History Month showcase that because by the time that I started 20 days on the web, this was 2014, I think it was the first year, I had sort of gotten a sense of what design media looked like at this point, I had been a working designer, I had my own studio. So I knew about communication arts and print magazine, and how magazine and other types of places, as well as some online outlets like that net magazine, the great discontent, etc. And I'm like, nobody is talking about black people, not even during Black History Month, like, what. So I just tried to find a way to at least put something out there since it didn't seem like these other outlets that were geared towards design, wanted to talk about it. So I'm like, here's 20 days on the web, you know, and with revision path, I mean, it sort of came out of that same wants for, you know, showcasing what black people are creating on the web. That idea I really had from the black web blog Awards. In 2006, I introduced the best blog design category, because I knew designers that were making themes and such for, you know, movable type, and WordPress, and blogger, etc. But again, they were not getting any sort of recognition for like their amazing skills that they were doing on these platforms, right. I mean, the kind of, you know, also put it in context, this is at a time 2006, when design was really starting to transition from page layout and tables, to Page Layout using CSS. So you had a lot more flexibility in how you could represent yourself online that didn't, you know, involve slicing up an image in Dreamweaver, and putting it into table cells with spacers. You know, that was the worst, the worst. I missed that time, at all, Oh, my God. But I wanted to do something around black designers back then. But I just didn't have the time I was working full time I was in graduate school full time. And during the black weblog awards, I was like, I don't have time to do another project. So really, it was seven years out from that in 2013, when I finally had the capacity to, you know, really turn that into something with revision path, I initially wanted it to be an online magazine, in the vein of the great discontent, because I really liked what they did with their articles and photos. But I was like, I don't have the resources to do that. We'll just, we'll start small. And we'll grow from there, just like I did with the black weblog awards. And I had the time because at that time, I had sold the black weblog awards and hadn't done it for two years. So I'm like I have time to do something new. But yeah, it did sort of grow out of this void of not seeing black representation in these areas and wanting to find a way to showcase the people and the work and the things that they're doing, since it doesn't seem like anyone else is taking up that charge at least at the time, right. And I'm not saying that to say that I'm the first I definitely don't want that to come off as me being like, you know, the grand discoverer of black designers or whatever. Like that is not the case, there were people doing this well before me, Maurice woods, a team and that oh time the organization of black designers like I am not the first. But I definitely tried to build on their legacy by showcasing work that black designers are doing. And I'm just fortunate that it's able to have gotten such a huge audience as it has over the years.
Right. I mean, you answered a question I was about to ask you thinking about after the web blog awards, you know, seven, eight years passed before you started revision path. Right? And you just explained how come you needed to take like a little bit of a break. The tools of podcasting are so much more accessible today than they were when you started. So kind of how did you get into it? What did you think about when you you know, your first mic your, you know, kind of like the tools of the trade then. And how was that like compared to what people have access to today.
My first microphone was a $10 GE mic that I picked up from the CBS on the corner, from the apartment building that I stayed in, it was just like some basic ass stick mic, that you stick into the headphone jack or one of the jacks on the actual computer, and you just start talking. So there was no preamp. There was no XLR cables or anything like that. It's just plugging in, start talking. And I think I even used like Windows audio recorder like I didn't have any special software. When I got started. Actually the first episode of revision path was recorded on my cell phone at the time, Raquel Rodriguez who was a reader of revision path, who lives in Chicago, she had contacted me and was like, I really like what you're doing with revision paths. I'm gonna be in Atlanta, I would love to talk to you and do a podcast and I was like, I don't have podcast equipment. I don't have that. But we'll try. And sure enough, we went to a restaurant. It was one eared stag over in Edmond Park. I had my phone which was I think it was the G one at the time. Like the first Google phone that was okay, that was my phone at the time and I just set it on the table. And we started talking audio quality is terrible. Like, I've tried to clean it up over the years, it's just not happening. But I do leave it up so people can like it's audible, but not, it's not great. It's not crystal clear, like our are talking now. But I leave it up to show the progression of where the show has gone. So over the years, I have been able to upgrade mics from a basic stick mic to a Yeti mic to the mic that I currently have, which is a Shure SM seven v. So over the years, I've been able to do that. But in terms of the availability of the tools, I would say the tools, the software, and like the people are kind of over the years have really made podcasting a viable option for so many people. I mean, in order to get like a decent mic, you would have to go to like a Guitar Center or some kind of music shop or something like that. Now you can get one at BestBuy. Right? You can get one on Amazon software there. I think there was audacity, but I don't know if there were any other like, really big tools unless it was Fruity Loops stuff for the loops. What am I talking about? The one I've used Fruity Loops before, but um, unless it was like a pro recording program, right Pro Tools or, or something like that. And now you have tools where you can do it on your phone, you can do it on the web, even recording, you can do all that stuff on the web, you would have to before you would have to try to find some janky program that could maybe record both parts of the audio or like you had to do the audio at the guest had to record and then you had to just like clap and like sync it up in some sort of way. Now, there's ways to do that automatically. And now there are people that are just podcast editors, like their audio editors that know how to edit for sound, how to put in the right pauses and take out arms and ahhs and breaths and popping and all that sort of stuff. I mean, over the past, I would say, you know, we're talking now in 2022. Certainly over the past 10 years, the podcasting industry as a whole has leveled up dramatically to the point where anyone can really make like studio quality audio, have great sound, use a great mic. And it's not a slog to try to put all this stuff together. Like it used to be 10 years ago. Right?
Right. And you talked about obviously your first episode. And when I did the research, right, it was June 2013. And at the time of this recording, you're going to be at like 475 episodes, I do want to say Wow, just wow. Because that type of commitment and routine. It's amazing. And looking at what you were doing early on, it seemed like it was bi weekly. But now you're having weekly episodes, how has that routine been and evolved over the last nine years,
you know, I really had to work hard to put systems in place to kind of make it happen on a regular basis. As I mentioned before, when I first started revision path, I wanted it to be this kind of online magazine. So what I would do is I just reach out to people via email and say, Hey, I'm gonna send you some questions, you sent me the responses back, we'll kind of do like a volley like a back and forth, right. The problem is that people would take weeks to get back to me for responses. And like, I can't keep a regular schedule, when you're taking so long to get back to me. Like I know people are busy, I understand that. But even if I gave them a deadline, people wouldn't meet the deadline. And at first even just trying to do the written interviews became, you know, kind of impossible to keep on a regular schedule. I would say it wasn't until I had that first interview with Raquel that I really considered, maybe I can just do this as a podcast. And so after I did hers, when I reached out to people, I would give them the option to either do a written interview, or we can record it. And the time that it took to put together the recorded interview versus the written interview was like night and day, like recording, it took us maybe an hour, maybe 90 minutes. Whereas with written that will take weeks to get stuff back and edit it together. And it will just take a long longer time to do it written than it would with podcasting. And so I was able to really shift over to that. I'd say the real process itself didn't begin until I got an editor. Before then I really was not thinking like weeks and weeks ahead in terms of content. I was just trying to get things out as quickly as I possibly could. So maybe I do a written interview one week and then next week, it's a podcast like it was very erratic, right until I would say roughly about March of 2014. I had enough audio episodes saved up to like officially launch or relaunch I should say revision path as a podcast. And that was with episode I want to say 15 or 16. Alicia Randolph was the person who we launched with I remember that and I want to say she was like episode 15 or 16, one of those two, when that was when I officially launched the podcast, and like switch the format over and by then I had also met My editor RJ RJ Basilea, who is fantastic. We've worked together all these years he's been anyone I can attribute the success of revision path to particularly in the cadence that I've been able to release episodes, it's been my editor, I would not be able to do this without his help, because before I was recording and editing, so I would record everything. And I quickly found out that I am a very anal editor. I'm like, trying to do every single assignment ah, and the problem with that, aside from just the time that it takes, is when I listened back to it, it sounded like too robotic, right? It just sounded like, there were all these pauses is that, like, it just didn't sound natural. But I would also say, I didn't know what the hell I was doing. I was learning how to interview people how to talk to people, which I've gotten better at over the years, like those first few episodes are dry. They are like sandpaper. They're like a Popeye's miss you this stuff is not easy. It is not easy. It was dry. Like it took a while for me to like, ramp up to get to a more natural interview style and cadence. Because at first I was just like, people would say something. And I just respond. Yes. Question. It was not great at all. And like an interview was more than just asking questions in succession, it's a dance. It's a back and forth, there's a rhythm to it. And it took me a long time to really get that. And I think also with having the editor and being able to really hear myself back, helped me a lot to get that process more and more fine tuned. And I mean, I would also have to say what helped out was certain web tools kind of helped me to structure everything. So at first I was just using well, to go back even further. At first, I was just using Excel to keep track of like all the episodes like the contact log, everything. I switched from Excel to Google Docs, I want to say in like 2015, I was switched everything over and was doing it with Google Docs and just kept a really long spreadsheet, write that off. And I would put all the questions in different Google Docs and share it with guests and stuff like that. And I don't know, when I moved to notion, I want to say that was not a no before notion. So I moved from Google Docs, to Trello in 2018. And like 2018, through part of, I think, 2019 ish, I was using Trello, which is like this Kanban board sort of project management software, which was great. I mean, I was able to do the show great to Trello, add a few particular plugins, and like it worked for me. And then from there, I switched over to use a notion, which is what I currently use. And it allows me to have like, a database of guests, every guest has a page like I can really keep up with the process a lot better. Plus, I'm able to set reminders, I'm able to loop in my team, like my social media person, and my editor RJ, they can get looped in and like get informed when I've got updates on things. And I can see the data in different formats, like Trello is just a Kanban board. Whereas with like notion, you have different views, you have Kanban, you got lists, table, database calendar, I think they just introduced a new one that's like a Gantt Project View. So I'm able to kind of, yeah, I'm able to really look at the show and a long format, to see how it is like, see where it's gonna go, what themes I might want to do. And then there are a couple of analog tools. And I don't really talk about those. I mean, for the longest I was just writing like pen and paper. I mean, now I use my iPad and my pencil, but I would write notes as I'm doing it to like keep track of what I said what the guests said, if like there was something very memorable, right, I would write it down because what happened before is, I would have to listen back to the whole episode to remember what was said. So I can write the show notes. And it just made it easier now to kind of do it. While that's happening. I also use a big like 24 by 36, wall calendar. Nice. There's a guy here in Atlanta, named Jesse Phillips, who has a website called New Year in AU, y e AR. And he sells these big like dry erase 24 by 36 calendars, right, so I have the calendar like taped on my bedroom door, I can like mark off. These are when I have interviews, these are days that I'm off. And like It basically puts the entire year in front of you. Like it takes out all the spaces and stuff. So it's one big grid, right. And as a math guy, I just like grid so like I'm able to really map out the shows and when things are gonna happen and when I can switch stuff around. So the combination of all of those things together really kind of helped keep me on track and also doing it you know, week after week, month after month, year after year, there's certain refinements in the process that will take place just like maybe RJ needs more of this in order for me to do editing or maybe I can do less of this because I don't really use it in the final product or something like that. So as the process kind of continues, I'm always like constantly refining things here and there. But taking the time to put that system together, particularly in the early days was important. And knowing I think, when to pivot from one tool to another, because there are so many tools out there that you can use now to record to manage and things like that, finding the right ones that fit into my workflow that I'm able to use that my people are able to use is super important, like making sure that those things are set up where I can do this process. Like, I think for anyone that might be considering starting a show or starting some type of weekly content venture, don't get so hung up on the tools, like use what works for you now. But don't try to find, quote, unquote, the best tool, because the best tool is going to be whatever works for you in your process. And it's a very singular kind of thing. What might be good for one person may not be good for other people, like, I still edit audio in Audacity, which is a free program. Some people use audition, some people use Pro Tools, that's great. I don't use that, because audacity works for me. So just knowing what those tools are and what works best. In your process, as you're refining the process is crucial. I think with any process and system, though, you have to do it like you have to continually stick to it, you have to have the discipline to do it, you can build the best system, but if you don't use it, it's useless, right? having the discipline to continue to use it and refine it, you know, maybe even refine your behaviors to fit in the system, what have you, that also is what really is going to help. So finding those right tools actually using them. That's the key to it. That's been my key, right. And
I mean, you know, just hearing your evolution, right from Google, sorry, from Excel to Google to Trello, to notion. And then even combining that with the analog tools of I do, I'm a big proponent of just like, you know, I use my iPad a lot, or just write in notes. Because I think the act of writing just allows us to memorize things a little bit better. Versus like typing, which doesn't have the same like resonance, it almost feels like it's not etching something in your brain. But like, you know, when you're writing, you're like thinking, your hands moving, and everything's happening at the same time. So you have multiple touch points. So I think you tend to remember things more, when you do a combination and seeing the evolution. I mean, I've tried to dip into notion, I think, because you are looking at it with like, it has all these features. And I look at conversely, like it has all these features, I don't know where to start, right. So I, I kind of go I want to use it. I've tried to you know, do some of the, the organizational tools that you know, sometimes the templates, you know, start with whatever. And it always seems too overwhelming that I kind of just stick to Google right now, the notes, everything kind of just flows for me, because it's just an easier way for me to, you know, have my workflow. That's what I tend to, you know, use, but I can see how like when it starts to get so overwhelming, and you can figure out how it works best for you, then using these other tools definitely start to make a bigger impact. Yeah,
I mean, notion is daunting. Don't get me wrong. I mean, you, you started nowship page, and you look at that blank page, and you're like, Okay, now what, and I think the good thing about notion is, even though it has all these features and integrations, you don't have to utilize all of them. Like for what I haven't noticed, because I've also got the app on my phone like I'm literally pulling it up now, I can see sort of the the Kanban board that I have for production, which I have like a column for potential guests. So every guests that I have on the show gets a card. And then on that card, I've got like an attachments thing for any like photos or something. I have the interview dates, I have the air dates, I have the status. So like each of my columns in my production page is a status of where the episode is in production. And those statuses are potential guests contacted pending booked recorded in production ready to air aired. So like as it moves from left to right. I can sort of see okay, I've got like right now as we're talking, I've got five in the queue for production. I've got one that's been booked right now. So I need to start reaching out to people. But I've also like contacted 10 people and I've got 26 potential guests to potentially reach out to so as the list kind of narrows down of course as it gets to who's been aired because I'm only hearing one episode a week. But on that individual guest card. I've got all this information that I need for the episode. So I have sponsors email address, Skype username, because I still use Skype, Twitter, Instagram, I have a SoundCloud link, a simple cast link, which is my audio host. I have discussion topics, I have tags, I've got the URL of what the actual episode URL will be. And then everything else on the page is like bio topics I want to talk about etcetera. So I think like start with what works. The thing with notion is that it's really it's a really good playground. It's a good sandbox it is to kind of play around with it. and see what works best. Like I recommend notion to people. But also like, if you're someone that will get stuck on all of the features, it's probably not that great because you'll get stuck on like, well, how can I optimize this? Or how can I do that? Like, don't get me wrong, the Google tools work, I used the Google tools for several years before though she came out like it definitely works. But as you kind of refine your process, you know, it's, it's a process, yeah, eventually, we'll kind of learn what is going to work best for you. Because like, I use a combination of like, analog and digital, because like, for me, I like to look at my analog calendar, and see all the ones I've done for the year, right, I don't necessarily see that in the digital view, I just see what's on my plate right now. Right.
And I'm such a visual learner, like I, I kind of have the same breakdown that you're talking about of like, certain guests and who I'm trying to get and who have already secured, but I do it on my mero board. Because it's a lot more like I can play and move things around. And it kind of feels like Illustrator like a, you know, a software, I can just kind of like, navigate things. So for me, I kind of do a lot of the same things. But more on a visual aspect versus kind of this like analytical aspect of notion. And all of this because I can see it has all of these options. And for me, it starts to feel overwhelming. But I can easily move cards and links around easily on this visual whiteboard, which feels a little bit more conducive, just the way that I work. And it's the same thing. It has less of the connections of like, you know, as you move things to the Kanban board, because you have to physically move stuff, but it kind of acts for me the same way. And all my listeners Did you just hear that, like you just got to break down from Maurice of how he's able to break down like his episodes for the last upcoming, I guess it's an amazing thing. I'm gonna try to knock that out and like, share that with everybody because I think he just shared the gold right there.
I mean, I think it's also important, like I said, like, you have to use it like process feeds habit. So as you continue with the process, it eventually just becomes like a habit. For me, I know what my weekly breakdown is going to be for every episode. So like Monday, we published a new episode Tuesday, production begins on next week's episode, Wednesday, we do like social updates and recording like I record the intro and outro every week, Thursday, I send that in my social media updates off to my social media persons to my notes off to my editor, I usually get the finished audio like Saturday. And then by Saturday, I already know Okay, take this audio, run it through all phonic to like clean it up just a little bit more, just put a little polish on it, and then get it transcribed with Rev. And that usually takes about a day or so maybe. And they're usually pretty fast on the weekends I found but like, send it over to read for transcribing uploaded to my audio host. And like I've already got the like WordPress page scheduled the episodes already scheduled in Simplecast. It's already scheduled on SoundCloud, all I have to do is just upload the other audio. So as I feed into that process, like I know, every week, this is what like the schedule is. And so I know that my editor knows that my social media person knows that. And we kind of just work on that from week to week. And granted, there's going to be times where I maybe offer two weeks, my social media person may have to go somewhere RJ may have to do something. And so because I'm doing it so far in advance, I can build in breaks, like in doing podcasts for this long is no easy feat. Now it'd be week in week out for almost 10 years, I'm telling you, man easy. I take breaks all the time. And so because I'm doing the episodes, at least like a month or so in advance, I can say all right, boom, I gotta get these two episodes ready by this week. So I know the next week, I don't have to worry about it. I'll be out doing something or my social media press will be out. So let me go ahead and prep the show notes and get those going. And because the process works that way, I'm able to kind of keep things moving and take enough breaks. Like I took two weeks off in July like and the other thing is because of how the show runs. Nobody knows. Yeah, exactly.
They do. Maurice, Maurice now you've given up the secret.
I mean, you know, with with, like we said around 475 episodes at the time this this, hopefully this podcast comes out. Right? You've been interviewing 475 people you have, sorry, 475 black designers. And you obviously for the last 10 years have a pulse and a sense of the industry through this lens. And what have you noticed is the biggest shift for black designers or design that you've seen in over the last 10 years?
Oh, I think the biggest shift is that there's just been more of a push for UX and product in general. I would say roughly, I don't know maybe one out of every 15 episodes on Revision path is with a person in UX Looks like there's a lot of UX designers out there, a lot of product designers out there. And that's something that I've seen just grow probably since about 2015 2016. To the point where I think if someone says they're a designer, people will think, Oh, they're probably a UX designer or a product designer, unless you qualify it right in some way. Like, I am a service designer, or I am a experiential designer. But definitely the rise of UX and product. And design is probably the biggest thing I've seen across the board that's black, white whomever. For Black designers, in particularly, I've seen a growing of foster communities. So you know, as I said, when I started revision path, I was not the first to do this I, I made mention of the organization of black designers, they've been working on this since like the 90s. And I've really kind of build things up, not to a point where I think they're super well known now, they are still an organization. But what I've seen over the past maybe five to seven years is there's been a lot of community based web tools that have, you know, grown like Slack, mighty networks, Discord, et cetera. So a lot of people, they're not able to find that community. I'm saying people, I mean, black designers, but a lot of black designers when they're trying to find that community. And they're not able to necessarily find it in person, like, say, through AIGA, or through another type of design organization, that's IDSA, or the graphic artists guild or something like that. They can spin up their own community, they can have a Twitter list, or they can have a discord community or Slack community of people that they talk to where the black designers, what came about in 2020, has like about like almost 10,000 people, I think, in their community, that's huge. Anybody would love to be able to tap into that level of support. But that's what one thing I've definitely seen over the past five years for black designers is, if you may not be able to find that community that you're looking for, you can make your own with tools that are available. But there's also just so many other communities that you can join. Now, it can be a large global group, like where are the black designers, it could be something regional, like black designers in Seattle, or Bay Area, black designers, you could get involved with an AIGA chapter. There's just more options now for community and for finding that kind of camaraderie that you're looking for. So you don't have to be the only one. You're not the only one. There are so many other people out there, like looking for you waiting for you ready to hear from you. So that's for black designers has been the biggest shift I've seen,
right. And I mean, the technology allows for that to happen. That's kind of amazing that that now all of these community based things, and especially at a time for the last two to three years, where everybody had to be kind of, you know, sequestered and social distancing, and all that stuff. So you had this sense of not being together, but that technology allows you to actually be and have a larger community, which is kind of right, exactly. Yeah, we kind of almost worked Kismet that way we know the world was burning. But you know, this other stuff was kind of working towards fostering a lot of that stuff. That's amazing. That's a great approach to see like these, like community based things and his opportunities. Moving forward. What do you think are the next big opportunities for black designers? Whoa, I'm trying to hit you. I'm trying to hit you with the good stuff, man.
No, no. I mean, that's a good question. One thing that I'm seeing definitely are a lot more partnerships. I'm seeing brands, mostly indie brands, partnering with black designers on like, collaborative efforts, you may see, like the crocs with Sully, hey, Bunbury, I think is his name. Pink Washington I had on the show did a collab with me undies, Jen white Johnson went on the show did a collab with target. So I'm seeing a lot of black designers, particularly black visual designers and illustrators, doing a lot of collabs with brands. So I'm seeing more of that happen. In terms what I would like to see happen, I would just like to see us out here getting more work, period. And this is something I think that has been roughly maybe a 30 year venture that I think probably really first came to play through AIGA. They did a symposium in 1990, where they talked to people at their design conference about, you know, ways to kind of get more black designers into the industry. And some of those same things echoed during that symposium or the case now. They need more job opportunities, more like mentorship, apprenticeship type of, you know, opportunities. They just need more opportunities to do work. And look, I can tell you right now, as someone who is currently out of work looking for work, black designers need those opportunities because they are not out there or if they are out there. It's normally at a level maybe perhaps for I want to say like internships or like entry level, but certainly not mid senior level type things like I'm not seeing companies wanting to A, quote unquote take that chance with a designer, a black designer at that caliber, I would presume that as because we know our worth once we get to that level, and companies generally don't like that. So I feel like that might be the case. But overall, just more opportunities for black designers to do. Great work is what's needed. I hear so much I even hear this of myself about how hiring a black designer is a risk. And I think the reality is that hiring anyone is a risk. Any person that you hire is going to be a risk, you hope that the person that you've interviewed is going to be the same person that shows up and works on day one, you hope that's the case, because we all like we all put off for interviews, like we all put on, we know what the Dan says, we know what the game is, like, let's be real here. Exactly. So you hope that the person that you hired is going to show up and still do the work at the quality that they at least said they could do it for it the interview, every hire is a gamble. It's a risk. But I hate when it's applied to black designers. Because what that does is it closes the door. For so many other people. It's not just oh, we don't want to hire you, we just don't want to hire a black designer, right, or something like that. So more opportunities as a whole, I think is what the black design community needs. There just needs to be more of us out here, doing work, doing great work. At all levels, I should say this is not just a mid senior level thing. But like those mentorships and apprenticeships are super important, you know, from studios, from agencies, etc. Like, open the doors, like extend something like you've got some kind of grunt work that you can offer you can offload to someone for $20 An hour or something is a generalization by me saying that, but you know, I mean, revision path has even had interns, I'm not gonna fret like, I've had interns that were college students that I've been able to provide college credit for in the past. So there was a way
Yeah, I think the opportunity is the fact that you get more people at different levels. And those people bring on more people, right, and then they start to diversify the industry. But if there's no people thinking like that thinking the way you're thinking, then they're just going to stay to their same communities and what they're comfortable with. And you just need more people there who bringing this the same thing, they are going to bring their community in, and then boom, next, you know, you have an industry that has a bunch of people who all look diverse and act different and bring different perspectives, because they're all doing the same thing, trying to, you know, help their community come up. Yeah, because
the thing with companies and I've seen this from the inside is that they are not, I mean, I would say over the past, maybe three or four years, a lot of companies are really like, dialing back on their DEI efforts a lot. I think the events that happened during the summer of 2020 really put a spotlight on companies and others to do more around like Black Lives Matter, I'd say probably just black people in general with regards to equity in their workplace. But so many places have dialed that completely bad. Oh, yeah. They may not have been super public about it. But you know, here's the thing. Companies just aren't doing enough. They aren't there talking to talk, they're doing just enough to get the like diversity. pat on the back. Like, I'll see things. For example, someone will drop a link in a Slack group about oh, we're looking for work. Let me just drop this link into, I don't know, where are the black designers and just keep it moving? That's not doing the work. That's not really doing the work. Like you can't do that. And then just pat yourself on the back like, Oh, good job I helped out today. Did you? Did you help out? Or did you just post the link somewhere and just hope that the right people will come to you? Or what I'll see is basically, companies are looking for black designers in places where black designers are not present. And it's like, well, if you're looking for us where we're not there, then you can't really complain that you can't find this because we're statistically not there. And I mean, like certain educational institutions or certain strict career paths, for example. You're just not going to find this there. And so if you're looking for us there and and then like throwing your hands up like Well, I tried Exactly.
It also I think they also tried to put off a lot of work on the BIPOC community, the Black designer, Latin design, Oh, yeah. You know what we're like, here's an opportunity. Can you share it with your community? And I'm like, no, no, it's not my job to share your stuff. But look, I have a community but I'm going to want to get it out there. But it's not my job to do your work.
Listen, this is the main reason that we started a job board on Revision path is because I had so many companies that would reach out and say, Hey, we're hiring at you know, the gap or whatever. Can you let your community know like, I'm on the other end sitting waiting with bated breath just like yeah, come on. Come on. Oh, yeah, come on opportunity. I just can't wait like rubbing my hands together. Anticipation like no. We have a job board now. If you want your opportunity to get out to my audience, it'll cost you $99. And we'll, we'll put it up for 30 days, and we'll let folks know how about that. And some companies are like, okay, great boom. Others are like, well, we'll just let somebody else know. Or, like, there's a lot of like, even trying to get around that, like we purposely put the job or cost would be pretty low. Like it's lower than most other jobs. Exactly. Yeah. Especially design job boards. And a lot of companies will still be like, Oh, my God, like, $99? I don't know. I was like, Well, do you want to reach the audience or not? I mean, for you mean,
spend more on a social? Yeah, they're more spend more that on a social ad? Like, come on.
Right. So they're like, oh, I don't know if we should do this. And can you let folks know? And? Well, I'd appreciate if you will let your personal community know, because sometimes companies will try to just circumvent the job board does ask me directly, and then I point them right back to the job boards, like, just posted here. That way, I for sure. I'm going to talk about it on the podcast in some capacity, like just do that thing. And they don't even want to do that. Yeah, they don't even want to do that. And it's like, Man, I'm not sure what you want from me.
They want you to, they want you to do the work. Yeah,
or, and I mean, and this has happened to me also where you say you do end up getting hired, as you know, the black designer, and maybe you're one of the few black people that work there or something like that. You are now inadvertently tasked with being like the diversity spokesperson for the company in some way, like you've been drafted into it. And I'm like, You didn't ask me to do this. This is not part of my job description. Yeah, I work here. But like, is this a psychologically safe place for other black people to work here? Exactly. Because you know, we're different, right? Like, we're not all the same. Oh, you know, what, and I'll use the last place I worked as an example. So I was not the only black person that worked there. I was the only black American that worked there. We had a lot of French Africans that worked there. And I think the company felt like they were being diverse because of that. But it's like, just because we're all black in the diasporic sense, doesn't necessarily mean that we all have the same like, needs and wants and things like, I may ask about Juneteenth. The other the black Africans that work there don't really care about God, because it doesn't apply to them. So, and they just never took the steps to make that happen. But I don't work there anymore. But I'll just leave it at that. I say that to say that, like, there's maybe even diversity in what you consider to be diverse. And if you're not even doing the basic steps of just reaching out and like actually trying to talk to people, you know, I still get to kind of go to the where the black designers question. That question came about because I had so many companies that would contact me in the early days, and still now saying, like, well, we're trying to find black designers. We don't know where they are. I'm like, well, they're at revision path, like, well, how are you finding them? Well, look, my melanin doesn't give me any special like Spidey sense to find black people there on the internet, just like everybody else. Like I search on LinkedIn. I look at websites, I talk to people, you can do the same things like what I'm doing to find guests is not wholly special. They're not even doing that. Right. And that's like the basics, the basics. So like, if I can't even trust you to do the basics, how can I expect you to go above and beyond? Right?
No, that's that's totally, it's totally makes sense how you're able to just put it back on them. And I think that's part of the thing that we need to do is to realize we're doing all this work, because we're doing it obviously for our own respective podcasts, our own connections, our communities, if they want to be part of that they need to put in some effort.
Yeah. And like, if you're not even putting in the minimal efforts, then I don't know what to tell you. I mean, you're probably not going to get what you're looking for, if you can't even reach out and talk to someone send a cold email, or a cold LinkedIn message like something right. Like, even that goes a long way. And if you're not even doing that, I mean, right? I don't know.
I mean, honestly, we could probably talk about this forever, right. And, you know, the podcast doesn't need to have, you know, an end time. But you not only talk and you not only talk to and interview people about design, but you also write about design, and not actually solely on behalf of brands, which you have done a lot before. But you've also been part of recent books, this book called We inspire me extra bold, and even the black experience in design, how did those opportunities come about?
So I know what we inspired me that came about, I think, after the interview I did with its author, Andrea Pippins. And that was like, oh, gosh, that was episode 147 148, something like that. But it came about from her. I had been a big fan of her work for years. I had been a fan of her work since the black weblog awards. She's actually one two or three black weblog awards and Andrea has. And so my love for her work. I mean came out of me having the opportunity to finally talk with her. And then that's how I think that opportunity came About with that book with extra bold that stemmed from my 2015, South by Southwest presentation that I did for were the black designers that got transcribed by Ellen Lupton, along with my conversation with Dr. Cheryl D. Miller, that I had on my show for episode 248. I believe 248. That's how that came about. She basically transcribed that. But it came from that initial presentation, because I couldn't have put that presentation together without reaching out to Cheryl, and talking with her and getting her blessing. And then putting that presentation together getting to South by Southwest, actually presenting it. It's all a chain reaction, like none of this is like coming like out of the blue, ever black experience in design. I mean, many of the folks who I have interviewed are in that book, in some capacity, like, there are not a lot of degrees of separation between me and every person in that book, either as a guest that I've had on the show, or someone who I've ran into at a conference or something like that. And at least with what I've done with the podcast, like even like PhDs and scholars are reaching out to me like you're putting together the definitive body of work for black designers like across the diaspora. Nobody else is doing this. Can we include you in this book? And I'm like, yeah, we'll do like. And it's funny because like, I talked about this with a Omari Sousa, who's one of my mentees, and like, I guess I because I've been doing it for so long, I never think about my place, I guess in history with it. Like to me, I'm doing the show, it's going out every week, I'm focused on like the weak, the weak, I'm not really stepping back and looking at the broader kind of like, Legacy of it. All right. And so for me with just doing the show week by week, and continually adding to this larger roster of black designers and such, in a way, if somebody is talking about the black experience in design, they kind of can't do it without revision that, of course. So that's how I ended up. Or at least in this case, as I ended up writing, that essay for the book was about, like how I started it and kind of the pitfalls that I've had throughout the years. And you know, it's been tricky. I mean, the podcast community is a lot. I'll just say that the podcast community is a lot the design podcast community, in particularly when I started the show, was very enhanced style. And as a lot of that I just had to work through and eventually kind of ignore, and just focus on the work that I'm doing in the community that I'm reaching, as opposed to trying to be a part of a community that historically, people like me have been underserved. Like, I'm not, I'm not trying to get a seat at your table. I built a great table over here, of course. So let me just keep working on that table. Right.
And I think one of the things that you mentioned, right is the idea of just who you've had. And I've had a Omari on my show, and you mentioned Jen White Johnson, right? Who had stuff at Target. It's great to see those people after you've interviewed them, and they're continuing to do and go on the path that they've been set on. And it's such an amazing aspect to kind of, when you're thinking about your own stuff, and not seeing the bigger picture and just focusing on like, Hey, I'm just gonna focus on who I interview and stuff like that. But then when you step back, and like I mentioned, you have 10 episodes in the Smithsonian Museum, right? These are now archived living history, things that are there. So I think sometimes the organic nature of what we do, we're not thinking of like, hey, my goal was to get into the Smithsonian, know, your goal was to continue to highlight and interview black designers, right? That was your goal. And because of what you're doing, you got recognized, which is awesome, right. But if you put the that other goal first, then you maybe would have never achieved kind of what you've been able to achieve so far. And you're continuing to achieve.
And I'd say even in the case of like the Smithsonian thing, like that wasn't, that wasn't a goal. Like that was a four year process of how that happens. And I mean, I started the show before the museum even existed before I even broke ground. I was at a conference in 2015, I met one of the curators there. And like, I think I had done maybe like about 100 episodes or was close to it, and was like, Hey, my name is Maurice, I do this show. And you know, she took my card, I took her card, and she was kind of like, okay, and like I could tell, like, you know, didn't really mean anything about it. But then, two years later, at the next conference, I saw her again and was like, Hey, I'm still doing my show. We're up to like 200 Something episodes that you'd love for you all to just take a look at it because by this time, grounded broken on the museum building had been built. Everybody's talking about it's the hottest ticket in DC at the time, like I got that. But I just wanted them to take a look at it. I didn't even say put it in the museum. I'm like, I just want to know like, what do y'all think about it? And the fact that they then came back, I think a year later after that, and was like, we would love to include some of the episodes. And then they chose the episodes out of the archive, which at that point I had been up to about, like 250 or so episodes, and so like, almost 500, but like to that point, they looked through and said, We want these people, I was like, great, that should be fine. And then they had to go through the whole process of obtaining rights. So it's like, they have to contact every person, get their approval, signed documents, I think one of the people had passed away that I had interviewed, so we have to get rights from their estates and put it all together. And eventually the news did, you know come out that we would like to put it in, I had a deed of gift that I had to sign as a donation, and they sort of counted as a donation, but it's an acquisition. And I can send them the files in a certain manner. And it's a lot to have to put together. Right. It wasn't a goal when I started the show. And I would, I would tell for anybody that wants to do a similar type of thing, like don't do it with the goal in mind, create the work and make it so great that it can't be ignored. Woof.
Look at that. Look at that. So I mean, right. I mean, that's the thing, right? We want to do good work, and then have it recognized. We don't want to just do the work to get recognized. We just want to do the work. And then yeah, byproduct, you know, and all that stuff that comes with it is just a nice cherry on top.
Right. Oh, I see what you did. There. That's, that's I like that. Jerry.
My wife would be proud because she's the postmaster. And I'm always like, what? As we sort of like end off a little bit with this great conversation, like I said, Maurice, we can probably talk forever, but we know we have time constraints. But as a podcast and entrepreneur, what is something that you'd like to explore more creative wise?
Oh, wow. That's a great question. I'm at an interesting crossroads right now, because I've spent largely the last five years of my career my like, professional nine to five career in tech. And I'm tired of it. I'm good. Y'all can have the program and the software. I'm good. I don't want to go back to startups. I'm good. I don't want to do that. So there's a lot of places that I feel like I can take my career at this point. And I'm suddenly exploring several of them. So one is music. I was a musician for a very long time before I started, a lot of my projects, I played trombone through middle school, high school, college, I played in my 20s, I hung up my horn when I was 30. And just like focused on my studio and on design work, I've been thinking of like, what are some ways I can maybe get back into the music field, maybe not as a as a performer, but maybe as a creative director, or an art director or something for a label or for an artist or something. So that's one thing I'm thinking about. Also thinking of wanting to do more with podcasting now, particularly with revision path, like, I think revision path is great. And I certainly would love to grow that into a major like, network sort of thing. I think that's always been a goal of mine, as the show has grown. But like, I would love to be a host, I would love to do more like one on one type things, fireside chats, you know, that sort of thing. Like, I know that there are other podcasters that are probably of similar caliber, I would say to me, in terms of just like the amount of shows that we've done that do a lot of cool opportunities that I just don't ever get asked about, like, I want to maybe do books or something like that, I don't know, I would love to do more in sort of the podcasting space, maybe like as a host or something like that. Okay. And then there's also like visual stuff I've mentioned before, like in my early 20s, doing a lot of like Photoshop, ie graphic design, visual work, I can still get in Photoshop and you know, make things and stuff but I'm not a, I wouldn't call myself a great visual designer by any stretch, but I know enough to do some things. I would love to get back more into that really like creative aspect of making stuff whether that's like, as a collaboration with another brand or with another designer. I think you've had Tré Seals on the show before have you
had him on? No, but I want to.
And he and I at one point, were thinking about collaborating on a typeface project, which we may do one day, I don't know. But I would love to do more kind of visual sort of design, stuff like that. And then another thing is publishing. I guess I've written online, on and off for roughly over 20 years. I would love to get back more into writing. The last thing I did at my old employer was I was the editor in chief of a print magazine, which I designed. So I would love to get back more into writing and publishing. Maybe I also work as a dev editor for a book apart so I help other writers kind of bring their ideas to life and structure them. I would love to have my own comic book or graphic novel. That's another thing I've had like I think anybody that's kind of grown up in the 80s or 90s, at some point at this creative had an aspiration to do something like that. But my own kind of creative graphic novel or something like that, the sky's the limit. I feel like right now, I'm very fortunate to be at this place in my career. And at the age that I am. I'm not saying that like, I'm an old man. But I'm fortunate to be at a place now where there's still so many other things that I can do right, and can pivot towards. So yeah, that's a lot like, even yesterday, I was thinking I would love to make crossword puzzles. Look at it. I really, I really liked crossword puzzles. I've been doing a crossword like me and my mom, that was the thing we used to do. Since I was a kid crosswords and cryptograms and stuff, that the cryptogram stuff all through college. My my college thesis is partially about cryptography. There's a lot of stuff I can do. That's a broad question, because but I just feel like right now, because I have so many things I want to do, it's hard for me to be a specialist to like, just focus on one thing, because there's always going to be so many other things I want to do. I mean, even with revision path, I'm lucky that the focus on that show has allowed me the opportunity to network and find and talk to so many other great black designers just all over the world. So being able to get inspiration from them on things they're doing. Like they inspire me, as much as I hope the show was inspiring them and others that are listening, that you can really sort of make your own path. So it kind of ties into a way into the name of the show revision path. And that like, yes, you can go like the old logo used to be a road that kind of took a right turn. But now it's like a sign where yes, you can go one path. But you can also make this, this revision. And it also looks like an art, like I thought about all that stuff. But I say that to say like, at this point in my career, and in life, I feel like there's a lot of creative things, I can do this a lot of creative things I want to do. And I'm open right now to all of it, like whatever the universe brings my way I'm open to it, as long as there's not another tech startup.
And what I love hearing about all of that is each thing was so different. It wasn't like a lot of different variations of the same thing, you know, a comic to music to hosting to making more stuff, right? Like, each thing has its own unique path versus like, okay, they're all kind of in this trajectory. And I'm going to just like, pick and choose which version or how far I'm going to take it that it just shows and even, like you said, the crosswords and stuff like that, it just shows how you are multidisciplinary and not limited by this one thing that we all know you for. But there's so many other things that you are doing, and also want to continue to do and capable of doing and want to just like push yourself in the future. And I think that is just also just an amazing thing. Because I think a lot of people may just go and say, I'm going to do one thing. This is the greatest thing I want to you know, work on now. And you're like now I got a whole boatload that I still need to explore.
Yeah, I get really inspired by people who I consider to be like Renaissance folks that can do multiple different types of things at different levels of capacity. Like I think of like a Paul Robeson or Yeah, or even Leonardo da Vinci or, or Beyonce. Since we're talking about Renaissance. Yeah, I can, I want to be someone that is known for doing a lot of different kinds of things. And I'm just fortunate that my career has allowed me the space and the capacity to do that, in a way that also is helpful to other people that that sort of has an impact. So yeah, that's that's kind of where where I'm at right now.
So with all of that, right, what are some things you struggle with? creatively?
Oh, what do I struggle with creatively? I mean, as I said, I feel like, because I have so many different focuses, it can sometimes be hard to just focus on one thing, I'm pretty sure someone is probably diagnosing me as ADHD or something by listen to this conversation. But what I mean, when I say that is, I can't be a person that just does one thing day in day out, like, I have to be able to use all the stuff that I have to do other types of things like whether that's a side project or, or something, I need to have that kind of creative outlet to do something else. So if I only could just do one thing that would be really hard for me to focus on and struggle. I mean, granted, doing one thing and being an expert in something like that does grant you I think, a good degree of stability. So I think if there's anything I would struggle with right now is just that stability of like, because I do so many different things across so many different aspects of my career in my work that having something that can be just long term and stable, is tough. Like I may do one thing for a year, then another thing for six months and then something else for 18 months and then maybe this for a year and like it's never like I envy those folks that have these long stretch Kids have one thing in their career because it's just like a good stable foundation. I'm like, What's that? Like? How do you do that? Teach me that. I don't know how to do that.
470 episodes 475 episodes, Maurice. Well,
I mean, we'll see. But also like, I mean, I can understand if I was just the host, but like, I'm the host, I research I designed, I produce, like, I do a lot of other stuff. Even in the, like, confines of one project. I was just the host, or if I was just the producer, or just the researcher, like, no, I'd want to, you know, get my hands dirty doing other stuff like with the magazine I did at work, like I was the editor in chief, so I edited the copy. But I also designed it in InDesign, like I wanted to, like get my hands dirty and be like, Yeah, I've never designed a magazine before. So I'm just gonna be Khadija James from the first season I live in single and I'm gonna say flavor. I'm gonna get an InDesign. I'm gonna put it together, and we're gonna make it work and we made it work. I can't
believe we are able to get Living Single in the episode.
Which by the way, Queen Latifah, we share a birthday. That's my word, march 18. Like
year two, like are just not here. No, no, not year. But that's still that's still pretty sweet man. That's pretty sweet. I
would I would love to meet her. That's another like, renaissance person I consider like, she's such a great jazz artists and people don't really, I think, know that about her. They probably see her Of course, as an actress as a producer, director, as a rap artist, of course. So she came up but like two great jazz albums. I wish you would do another day. Oh, nice.
Wow, they put me on. Thank you. So you know, I know you like to do a lot of different things. But what one piece of advice would you give to a younger Marie's and her entering the industry today?
I would tell younger me to strike out earlier, I think I waited too long to really try to do my own thing. Like to strike out like, do like have my own business. I think I tried. I waited too long to try to fit into a mold that I don't think I was made for. So you know, when I graduated, I graduated college in 2003. Did a bunch of like customer service type jobs, because nobody wants to hire you if you had a math degree unless you were a math teacher, which I didn't want to do. So I was like a telemarketer. I sold cars that sold cars, but I helped car dealers at Auto Trader got fired from every job I had, like I just wasn't in like my heart wasn't intuitive, and got my first creative job. And then I was sort of hearing all this stuff about oh, you just have a bachelor's degree, you have to get a master's because the you know, the bachelors is a new high school diploma. And the Masters is the new bachelor's. And I'm like, like, I gotta go to grad school. And I went to graduate school for three years, which I total mistake. But I went to graduate school for three years, got my master's degree. And I just felt like I was trying to fit into a mold that like this doesn't work for me, I need to break out and then I left my job at a TNT started my studio. And I feel like that's when I really started to realize my own potential. So I feel like I would have, I should have realized my own potential sooner, instead of trying so hard to fit into this particular mold that I think society had carved out for me at that stage in my life. Wow, wow. Right, just
being able to I think of it as like, fail fast or fail often or using strikeout, I think, yeah, putting yourself out there a lot earlier. Because sometimes you think it's so precious that you have to do it a certain way and follow someone else's rules, or ways of approaching it. And if it doesn't work for you, why are you going down, you know, going down that path?
Because I mean, at this time, you know this, this is also something where you have I don't know if anyone else in? Well, I'm not gonna say that that's not true. But this is also at a time when like technology, I mean, I cannot stress how much technology and the internet were taking off during the early 2000s. And like, I wanted to be in that so badly, and just didn't know like, where's my spot, like trying to figure that out. But then all the sort of career advice and stuff that you hear is from a generation that didn't have technology. So they're probably giving you advice about, well, you need to do this and stay in this job and do that, that just doesn't apply in this current climate. There's so much opportunity for other things in this current climate. I can't be the the factory worker, I mean, I mean, I come from a city that has factory workers, like I can't be that I have to do other things. Like it's just a different time back then. So I think now certainly with the internet and social media, like you have, you know, like my god, daughters are eight and 10. And like, they want to be creators. They want to be content creators, their father, my, my best friend is like, she wants to do YouTube. I'm like, we should let her do it. Right. You know, but like, because it's an option now it's an option like it's, it's something that is available for them that wasn't available for us. So like don't try to hold her back to like, what you might have been taught. Like, let them explore let them see how to do it, you know? Yeah,
because everything now is is just so much more accessible. You don't have to go through all the steps that we did to be at the same place. And you can do it a lot younger and earlier than we did.
And there's more support. There's more community out there. Because really like those early 2000s was the wild wild west for the web, like, especially if you weren't in like California, Silicon Valley. Just trying to find your people was tough is tough. So tough. Much easier now, though.
Definitely. So lastly, right? I'm starting this new idea at the end of my show, and I'm calling it pay it forward. So who do you think I should have on the show? And what one question about process?
Should I ask them?
I really want you to talk to Dian Holton. Do you know her? Of course,
I'm trying to get Dian on we we have definitely crossed paths and thinking about when to to get her on. And we just always missed each other.
I am so inspired by Dian and her career and what she has been able to do. And I've told her this before. So she's I mean, this isn't a surprise to her. But like, that woman is like a design superhero. Yeah. Like, every time I hear about her, she is always doing something that like just is like so cool. Like she's designed a sneaker shoe that suits design, like a lot of sneakers for Nike. She does like storefront displays and stuff. She just recently, I think are directed a book does a New York Times bestseller. Like she's always doing such phenomenal work. And she gives back to the community through the work she does through AIGA. Like, you should talk to her. And I think the question you should ask her about process is, how has she managed to achieve the level of success that she has across so many different industries? No, I mean, yes, it's all it all kind of boils down to design, but like, it's different types of design and different sorts of ways. And like, I'm just really inspired by the work that she does. She is so cool to know,
agreed. And I worked with Dian, you know, as part of the AIGA dei stuff and just collaborating with her and just listening to her process about just how she does stuff with AARP and also just learning firsthand of some of the Nike stuff that you're talking about. I mean, Diane's an amazing individual. And I definitely want to get her on the show. She helped
me out with the magazine. When I was first putting it together. I reached out to her. I was like, how do you do this? And she was like, boom, let's talk.
Yeah, she's always willing to give up over time. Yeah. So yeah, awesome. Awesome. And so you know, where can our listeners find out more about you revision path and all the things that you're up to now?
Yeah, so definitely hit up my website, Maurice, cherri.com, M AU, r i, C, E, ch, E, rr y, that's got links to me on Twitter, which is Maurice cherry, it's got my LinkedIn, you can just search for Maurice cherry. But it also has pages that are devoted to like my speaking, volunteering, podcasting, awards, judging, etc. So you can see all of that for revision path. It's just that revision path.com. And then we're also on Twitter and Instagram, under that name, just one word, revision path.
Thank you so much, Maurice, this was an amazing chat, it would went a lot longer, and it deserves to be a lot longer than my normal episodes, there may be an opportunity to split this up so it can just live longer. But thank you for all of this. Thank you for your advocacy on behalf of black designers, pushing the industry making sure that these creatives are known, and they have a place to live in space in the universe. Because I think without all the work you've been doing, there would be a big void. Still, and as you mentioned, from where are the black designers and that idea of something that's happening 30 years ago, and we're still having this conversation, we need more people like you to push this envelope. Thank you so much for doing all the stuff that you
do. Thank you. Thank you in George, it was a pleasure to be on the show. Glad to come back anytime.
Awesome, man take care and ...
This has been works in process.
I want to thank Maurice for joining me again today. It was great to hear him break down his podcasting process and how he continues to advocate for black designers. And as he mentioned, he's not the only one it does take a village.
If you want to learn about the various projects people organizations mentioned in our conversation, please check out the show notes in your podcast player or on our website w i p dot show. The works and process podcast is created by me. George Garrastegui, Jr. That content and transcriptions was reviewed by or shift linear, and this episode has been produced and edited by RJ Basilio. You can find the works in process podcast on all media platforms such as Apple, Spotify, Google, and more. And if you liked the episode, feel free to give us a five star rating on Apple podcasts and Spotify. And if you're extra generous, write us a review that really does help. And just subscribe on whatever platform you listen to right now. It's that easy. Follow us on Instagram or LinkedIn to stay up to date on the release of new episodes. I appreciate you taking the journey with me and I hope you enjoyed our conversation.
Remember, until next time, our work is never final. It's always a work in process.