For this month’s “Do Good” issue, Cleveland Magazine recruited all-star illustrator and designer Timothy Goodman. You may know the Cleveland Heights native’s work from Chipotle bags, his West Elm collection or national magazine covers for Variety and Time. If not, you’ll recognize his signature style: stark, free-form ink lettering. In his own act of goodness, Goodman (yes, the last name helped him get the gig) called for a local black, female collaborator — part of an ongoing effort to promote inclusion in the design world — and found local illustrator Alesha Williams, a second-year graduate student in Kent State University’s visual communication design program. We spoke to the artistic pair about creating this month’s cover package.Cleveland Magazine: What does it mean to do good?
Timothy Goodman: Doing good is about caring about people who can’t help you, who don’t look like you and who don’t have the same privileges as you. That’s how we can begin to make this country and this world better.
CM: From ensuring you’re only speaking on inclusive panels to creating People of Craft, an online directory of creative professionals of color, with Amelie Lamont, you’ve put an emphasis on inclusion throughout your career. Why is inclusivity so important to you?
TG: Inclusivity is still a big issue in the design world, the world I’m a part of. There’s an imbalance in our community. I speak at design conferences, and I have a big platform and audience. It’s an important topic for me, so I try to discuss it publicly. I’ve worked at agencies, and the majority of people there are cis white straight males, and the statistics back that up. Hopefully by doing stuff like this [cover with Alesha], it does give opportunity and visibility to people who might not have had it, and encourages people like me to open up their windows and their communities to people who might not look like them. Because not only did I find someone amazing like Alesha, but also I had 25 to 30 people who emailed me who were all very talented. We need to discover these people.
CM: What did this opportunity mean to you as a black, female designer?
Alesha Williams: It felt like finally somebody is looking specifically for me. Sometimes I feel like the work I do won’t get noticed. To have my elements incorporated into the design, it was like a ray of sunshine.
CM: How did the collaboration work?
AW: At first I was like, OK, I’m going to be doing busy work. But he gave me the reins to use my own style and voice. Both of us are in the illustration, but it doesn’t clash. Of course, he gave me edits and critiques, but he was like, “Don’t copy my lines, add your own flair.”
CM: What did Alesha bring to this project?
TG: She kind of approached some things in a much different way and did some things I wouldn’t do, and I appreciated it and liked it. I learned the way that she works and learned from her different style. I felt she brought a certain rawness to the illustration that I wouldn’t have. I just let that go. I didn’t want to crowd that. I wanted her voice to be a part of it.
CM: How would you describe your personal style?
AW: I’m very versatile, which is how we were able to work together. My style is loud, full lines, big illustrations, and I draw from anything comedic. Describing it in one or two words: bold and dynamic.
CM: What do you hope to do when you graduate?
AW: The dream job is to have my own indie comic book company. I’m doing my thesis on minority representation in comic books. I’d like to publish comic books of all types, but specifically ones that highlight minority experiences and minority super heroes. I also love teaching and would like to teach on the college level.
TG: Cuyahoga Community College is how I got my start in design before I moved to New York at 23. The teachers there really pushed me to keep going. So I felt like the “[Do] Good” package was a chance to come full-swing and give back to the community.
AW: Growing up, I've seen Cleveland Magazine on the coffee table and around town. I haven't done illustrations for big clients yet, so this was a really big deal for me. I'm going to pick up a thousand copies.
CM: Why do we need goodness now?
TG: We’re constantly bombarded with awfulness, and we’re exhausted as a people. Whether it’s family, friends or doing good for others, it’s important to remember the things that count.
Click here to read more from December's "Do Good" package.
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