Why artists need to make diversity a priority

Diversity is important because it allows you to understand perspectives that you may not be familiar with. This applies to school, work and life. By seeking to have a better understanding of diversity, you are making a conscious effort to grow. By doing so, you are building relationships while connecting to others who have a different background and life experience than you do. This applies to diversity in race, sexuality, thought and much more.

In the culture of arts, seeking to understand diversity is essential in becoming successful. That very thought in mind is credited to the success of our Brand Manager at RMCAD, Madeline Austin. Madeline is the glue of our marketing department. Wearing many hats, Madeline is the lead on the visual representation of the college along with it’s marketing strategies. Madeline was hired in 2016 as a graphic designer and quickly grew into this leadership role for several reasons. Her conscious effort of implementing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is why RMCAD’s marketing efforts have made this a priority.

Madeline admits she is no expert on the subject, she is simply a designer trying to make a positive difference in the RMCAD community. Based on her experiences as a graphic designer and brand manager for RMCAD, we asked Madeline her thoughts on what artists can do to better implement diversity into their work:

Why is it more important now than ever for creatives to implement diversity into their work?
It’s not just a social responsibility anymore, it’s a requirement. Especially in the worlds of advertising, marketing, and branding, success is measured by our ability to build connections. We cultivate stronger relationships by listening to, understanding, and respectfully representing the unique experiences of a diverse audience. 

What has adding diversity done for you OR how has that helped you as a designer?
One of my favorite quotes is part of a Tweet from journalist Erica Williams Simon. She said, “Attach yourself to a mission, a calling, a purpose ONLY. That’s how you keep your power & your peace.” My skills are creative, but my mission is to leave the world a little better than I found it. Helping under-represented communities feel seen or share their message is part of that, and it makes me happier than any award.

What are the three things designers can do to bring more diversity into their creative process?

Start Here
You don’t need a million-dollar budget to inspire positive change. Start exactly where you are now by pitching an email signature that includes pronouns or a social post to celebrate Juneteenth. Small acts create ripple effects. 

Select Inclusive Imagery
It’s natural for people to want to see themselves as the happy woman in the commercial with the perfect teeth — that’s why we buy the toothpaste. But as creatives on commercial projects, we have to remove ourselves from the equation. Use models from a range of backgrounds in your photography to let your audience take center stage.

Seek New Influences
Platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are designed to just give you more of what you already like to see. Yawn. Consistently look for new sources (without algorithms) to cast a wider net of inspiration.

As you can see, implementing diversity is something that Madeline is passionate about. She is also a rock star graphic designer, so you should check out her work.

RMCAD is committed to maintaining a policy of inclusiveness that recognizes, values, and reflects the diversity of the community it serves. We encourage you to learn more about our DEI initiatives and to join the Diversity Alliance by clicking here.