On September 26th, New York-based designers Amélie Lamont and Timothy Goodman took to Twitter to announce their newest passion project: People of Craft, an online directory of creative professionals of color—from artists to writers, entrepreneurs to creative directors.
Lamont tweeted her personal goals for the project, stringing together a series of 140-character messages that resembled a mission statement: “As a person of color, I find that we often get placed into boxes. These boxes end up defining how people think of us,” she wrote.
“My hope is that with this directory, we can start acknowledging that people of color also have the capacity to be multidimensional creatives worthy of the same attention their white peers receive, [without] relegating them only to a checkbox of ethnicity,” she continued.
When I speak with the founders, it’s two weeks post-launch, and Goodman and Lamont are already encouraged—if not a bit overwhelmed—by the enthusiastic response to the project. “We’ve already received around 250 new requests to be added to the directory, which began with around 300 people,” says Goodman. Lamont chimes in: “And that’s a really good indicator that this is something that people want.”
The platform joins other internet databases, like Women Who Draw, Women Photograph, Queer Cartoonists, and Cartoonists of Color, which are encouraging inclusivity and intersectionality across creative fields.
The concept for People of Craft began germinating last year, when the pair met at the WebVisions design conference. Lamont, who is black, Jamaican-American, and from New York, is a product designer and writer who works at the New York Times. Goodman, who is white and from Cleveland, is freelance graphic designer, illustrator, and author who counts Airbnb, Google, and The New Yorker among his clients.
Goodman and Lamont realized they harbored the same frustrations around the lack of diversity in design, as well as across the entire professional creative landscape. Both had previously voiced their concerns on social media and through personal projects. Lamont runs the website Good for PoC with Catt Small and Jacky Alciné, which provides a list of tech companies that create safe, supportive environments for employees of color. Goodman, for his part, has made it a personal mission to encourage fellow creatives, white men in particular, to advocate for increased diversity in their offices, as well as the conferences and lectures they commit to.
The pair also share a desire to take action. “There are two camps, there’s one where you’re complaining about it, and there’s another where you do something about it,” Lamont offers. “So we said, ‘Okay, we talk about this a lot, so let’s actually do something.’”
“This project was born through that shared activism, in a way—a desire to create a platform that can be used for good,” Goodman adds.
They worked quickly to bring People of Craft to fruition—not an easy task for two busy designers with rigorous day jobs. “We wanted to get it out as fast as we could, because we both wanted to both start this conversation,” says Goodman. Lamont notes that they were eager to provide a concrete response to the companies, conferences, and other entities whose answer to a lack of diversity amongst their employees and participants had been “We can’t find these people.”
“Now our response is, ‘You’re just not looking hard enough. Here’s literally an entire database of them,’” Lamont says.
Currently, People of Craft includes over 300 professionals of color. Each person is represented by a thumbnail image to represent themselves or their work, alongside their name, creative focus, and links to personal websites and Instagram accounts. Using a navigation bar at the top of the page, users of the site can refine their searches by specific professional categories: designers, illustrators, artists, letterers, creative directors, photographers, entrepreneurs, writers, managers, and developers.
But Goodman and Lamont both emphasize that this is just the beginning of a project they hope will expand, both in the number of creatives listed on the site, and the overarching scope. Their first task is to add the 250-plus (and counting) submissions they’ve received over the last two weeks. By the end of the month, they expect People of Craft’s original database of 300 to double.
“As long as you identify as a person of color, and you believe what you’re doing is creative, then you belong on the site, and you should reach out to us,” Lamont explains. They hope this ever-growing digital rolodex will not only serve to connect companies to professionals of color, but also creatives to each other, thus fostering community and a support network.
Other future goals include introducing a lecture series, as well as a directory and calendar of diversity-supporting events and projects, like St. Louis-based designer Tim Hykes’s 28 Days of Black Designers project, which featured profiles of underrecognized black designers. Hykes was inspired by the 2016 Design Census, which found that black people made up only 3 percent of the U.S. participants who took the survey. “As designers,” Hykes writes on his project’s site, “we should be asking what can we do to solve this problem. The first answer is always more awareness and celebration.”
Just two weeks in, Goodman and Lamont are already well on their way to expanding their passion project, and turning it into a powerful tool for encouraging diversity across creative fields.