What's the story behind the founding of Vocal Type?
In May 2015, I graduated with seven job offers ranging from art director positions at startups to a Pepsi junior design position. I ended up taking a full-time position at a staffing agency where I worked for 8 or 9 companies over the course of 2 years. I learned a lot about what kind of designer I wanted to be and what types of clients I wanted to work with. After that, I went full-time freelance and began to renovate the stable that is now my studio.
One day, while working on another brand identity for another real estate agency (I did a ton of those as a temp). As usual, I was aimlessly searching for inspiration, and suddenly, I just got really bored. Everything looked the same to me. No matter how beautiful, everything looked the same. There was no character, no culture. I started wondering if I had chosen the wrong career.
Not long after that, I came across this 1987 article titled "Black Designers: Missing In Action" by Dr. Cheryl Holmes-Miller. In it, she talked about how, like most industries, the design industry is white male-dominated. If our job (as designers) is to communicate an idea to Black communities, Black designers need to have a seat at the table. And I say the same for Latin communities, Female communities, LGBTQ+ communities, and so on. Everyone needs to have a seat at the table. The world continues to become more and more diverse, and the industry needs to catch up.
A few weeks after reading this article (2016), Cheryl released a sequel for the original article's 30th anniversary, "Black Designers: Still Missing In Action." This version was less analytical and was her way of passing the torch to the next generation of Black designers. It made me want to figure out a way to, somehow, add diversity to the design industry.
I looked back on my life and thought about those days of practicing cursive, graffitiing people's names on index cards, designing tattoos, making Unveil; it just made sense to start a font foundry.
And in thinking about diversity, I had to think about my racial experiences. Like the times I experienced racism and bigotry in the workplace, or when I got stopped by four cops in Minneapolis, or the first time I was called the' N' word, or the first time I experienced racism. However, I also had to think about my positive racial experiences. Like the pride, I felt when learning about Dr. King, Bayard Rustin, Eva Peron, Ruben Salazar, Dolores Huerta, Nelson Mandela, and many others who have left this earth better than they found it.
That's when I realized that type could be more than just a design tool, but a tool for educating and sharing stories like this one. That's why I decided to add a piece of minority culture to the root of any great work of graphic design—typography.