Black Designers Ignite Event To Showcase Portfolios of 30 Black Designers

by | Jul 23, 2020 | Inspiration

Plenty of talented Black designers exist, yet they are not widely represented in the art world. Black Designers Ignite is an upcoming event that will not only celebrate Black excellence in design, but challenge the masses to review how they approach hiring, networking, and celebrating Black lives.


About the Event

On August 27, 2020, the first-ever Black Designers Ignite will take place. The virtual portfolio showcase will feature 30 Black designers from across the country who will have 5 minutes each to present their work via 20 slides. Jurors are currently being selected and 100% of ticket sales will be split among the speakers.

Promotional Graphic for the event. (Photo: Black Designers Ignite)

Meet the Organizer

Lack of diversity in the design field is just one of the factors that lead Heatherlee Nguyen to organize this event.As a freelance designer living in St. Paul Minnesota, I’ve experienced a huge difference between living in the inner city and working in the suburbs. “The corporate jobs in the Twin Cities were mostly held by Caucasians and people from similar backgrounds. I felt that I couldn’t fully show up as myself; a woman of color with really diverse life experiences,” said Nguyen.

It always makes me sad to start a new gig and there are not a lot of people like me. I feel isolated and don’t see the same diversity I see in my neighborhood, as I see in the office. I love to be around different people who bring different perspectives and I’ve never found that in the jobs here. Designers are critical in changing the narrative. That is why I’m throwing this event.”

(Photo: Black Designers Ignite)

Event Theme

The theme of the inaugural showcase will be “Transitions”. For some, this could mean transitioning from:

  • Junior designer to a senior design leader 
  • Design program to corporate America 
  • One field of design to another
  • Senior designer to design educator 
  • A place of fear or limited access to a place of empowerment,
    exposure and community


(Photo: Black Designers Ignite)

Speakers should come prepared to discuss ideas, provocations, personal stories, or anything that relates to the theme of making a transition. “I hope people listen to the deeper message and better understand what has been missing in their communities,” said Nguyen. Non-Black audience members should take time to reflect and share the stories they hear. I know we can collectively change the way we hire, mentor, and pay people.” 

Designers looking to participate have until August 1, 2020 to submit a talk.  

How You Can Help

Black Designers Ignite is poised to be one of the most impactful design events of 2020. Here are a few ways you can support the event:


Event update. (Photo: Black Designers Ignite)


With roughly four and a half weeks until the showcase debuts, Nguyen and her team are making big strides in their organizing and marketing efforts. “Working with everyone has been pure magic. I have a long list of people to thank,” she smiled. This has been a grassroots effort from day 1, and as more people come in to help it feels like so many superpowers coming together at once. I love knowing people want this event and feel grateful to the mighty team behind the scenes.”

(Photo: Black Designers Ignite)

I want Black Designers Ignite to inspire people in new ways,” said Nguyen. “By the last talk I hope the audience feels so moved that they take it further and collaborate with one another; whether it’s those in hiring positions or fellow designers. People who work in the diversity and inclusion space should come away wanting to amplify their support, but everyone should come away feeling ignited!

What else can be done to support Blacks in design? Share your thoughts with me in the comments!


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