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2017.07.27

The +Company: Nijel Taylor

+ Title: Designer & Animator

+ From: Coatesville, Pennsylvania

+ Currently living in: Brooklyn, NY

+ Studied: Graphic Design at The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA

+ With Trollbäck for: 4 months

+ Instagram@nijeltaylor

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Where did you work before joining the Trollbäck team?

I began my career as a designer at Lippincott, where I designed for a wide range of clients including Taco Bell, PWC, Autotrader, WestRock, JackRabbit, and Hyatt Centric. I also taught Motion Design at Kean University and actively mentor young talent.

What is the motivating factor that drives you to create?

When you live in a world that doesn’t always reflect your culture, the only thing to do is to help fix it. I became a designer because I wanted to solve that problem.

Part of being a designer is creating artifacts that reflect your experience and the experiences of others in the world. I grew up surrounded by paintings that my parents collected. Every single painting was of a person of color and was created by a person of color. At a young age, I recognized that the stories within those paintings weren’t being told in the world or depicted in media.

As a designer, especially as a black graphic designer, I felt it was my duty to create things that further removed cultural biases. To fix problems by tearing down walls that separate people, and to help people understand diverse stories and diverse perspectives.

You were also one of the creatives nominated as an LGBTQ “Creative to Watch” by HelloMr. Do you identify yourself as an activist through your work? 

Yes, absolutely.  I like to think I design things that have the potential to speak to diversity. For example, my work for Taco Bell has a lot of colors in its palette, which can be used to speak to pride, to diversity, and other multicultural themes.

What kinds of things inspire you? 

I am often inspired by the weirdest things, like the way a building is painted, or the way light shines itself on a surface. I am also a big modern and pop art fan.

What does design mean to you?

Design is a tool to engage and affect meaningful change.

Design is a team sport. I am a strong believer that nothing great is made without a team of collaborators. I always design in the company of my peers and am constantly bouncing ideas off people to get to solutions that make sense — but also to reach solutions that have that elegant detail and deeper meaning. Whether it’s a logo, a visual system, illustration or icon, every design solution is the result of countless conversations.

Design is about studying. I constantly tell myself to think slow, but act fast. I spend 30 minutes on one idea but typically may do 10–15 executions of it. Design ideas need time to marinate and roam before we can capture them. You have to watch how an idea lives, how it behaves, and how it functions before claiming it as a viable solution.

Design is an enjoyable process. Designing something for a client is like walking around in someone else’s neighborhood. When faced with new industries, I listen for what is changing and where the pain points are. It’s a strength to bring an outsider’s perspective to a situation.

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What are some books/blogs/publications that influence and inspire you? 

Marshall McLuhan: On the Nature of Media, Eye Magazine, AIGA Eye on Design and ItsNiceThat.

Who are some of your favorite artists? 

I love the work of Ellsworth Kelly, Josef Albers, Roy Lichtenstein and Jean-Michel Basquiat. When it comes to design, I love the work of Deborah Sussman, Lance Wyman and Eddie Opara. 

Music, I am into almost anything.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I run track and field.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

I wish I could teleport, and see more of the world.

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