Support Black Designers: Students and Alumnae Install Mural at the University of Toronto to Call For the Dismantling of Systemic Racism in Design

The “Support Black Designers.” mural at the University of Toronto’s Daniels Faculty contributes to the larger discourse around the need for increased empowerment and recognition of Black designers.

Support Black Designers
Image Credit: Guershom Kitsa; Official Photographer of the “Support Black Designers.” Mural. October, 2020.

Support Black Designers Mural

(TORONTO, ON – November 05th, 2020)

The Daniels Art Directive, a student-led club at the University of Toronto (UofT), in collaboration with Daniels alumnae, Ashita Parekh and Tolu Alabi, have installed a temporary mural “Support Black Designers.” on the Daniels Building featuring written pieces and illustrated artwork from Black creatives. This mural is a call to action for dismantling systemic racism in the discipline of design. Thus, supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, as it calls for the urgent investigation and rectification of racism in workplaces and academic institutions of design.

When asked about the values and goals of this mural design, Tolu Alabi said, “This project brings awareness to the need to support Black designers. It also creates an opportunity to make practical changes to the educational system by bringing awareness to the diversity in design.”

Ashita Parekh, in agreement with Tolu’s statement, added that “This moment isn’t about us at all; it’s about supporting social justice movements and challenging current institutional systems that don’t recognise the efforts of diverse communities.”

The mural is a community-driven project. Made of 248 pixels, it features both written and illustrated artwork submitted by Black creatives. The call for submissions was open online to all creatives. However, of the 84 pixel designs received, only 20% were from Black creatives. This is reflective of the marginalisation of the voices of many Black creatives in the design industry.

Given that the mural was made to create a platform to amplify the values of Black voices in design, it was decided that only the work submitted by Black creatives would be installed. This decision was made after extensive consultation with students as well as Black professionals both within and outside the design industry.

“We are honoured to support this message, and the Black creatives who contributed,” said Michelle Ng, a founder of the Daniels Art Directive. “We were pleased when Tolu and Ashita’s design won the community vote, as it is crucial that we as students and members of the society, listen to and amplify Black voices in design. Through community consultation on this project, we learned & unlearned our own biases. While this mural is temporary, we hope to continue creating, sharing and supporting more platforms for Black voices in order to inspire change in design.”

Project coordinators worked with their lead sponsor and partner Vistaprint to create and print pixel posters, banners and custom face masks.

“Social change and the arts have always been inherently linked. As a business that prides itself on fostering creativity and bringing quality design to millions of people around the world, we see how great design can help to amplify a message to a much wider audience,” Vistaprint North America Market Manager Erin Shea said. “This has truly been a passion project for our team. We are so proud to be a partner in spreading this very important message alongside the Daniels Art Directive students and alumni, University of Toronto faculty and staff, and the amazing artists contributing their artwork to bring this mural to life.”

The team understands that a mural does not do justice to address the various lived experiences and discrimination that Black creatives face, especially in the education system. However, they hope it will call to action all members of the public and institutions to create lasting reformation in the academic and corporate fields.

The mural will be showcased as part of the DesignTO Festival from January 22-31, 2021.

More info about the ‘Support Black Designers’ mural at:

About the Project

The Daniels Art Directive, a student club, launched a competition for mural compositions about social issues. The final mural was intended to engage multiple artists in creating pixels (individual pieces of art and writing to form the mural). Ashita and Tolu’s design won the vote from the Daniels community, and was finalized through consultation with Black students, clubs, faculty, and professionals.

About the Designers

Ashita Parekh was born & raised in Mumbai, India, and is an alumna of the Daniels Faculty. She completed her undergraduate degree, in Architectural Studies, at the University of Toronto in 2016 & her MArch Urban Design degree from The Bartlett School of Architecture UCL, London, England, in 2017. She currently works as an Urban Designer at Perkins&Will. Ashita is also a freelance writer.

Tolu Alabi is an alumna of the Daniels Faculty. She completed her Undergraduate degree at UofT in 2016 and Master of Science in Urban Planning also at UofT in 2018. She currently works as a Zoning Examiner for the City of Toronto.

About the Curators

Founded in June 2019, the Daniels Art Directive supports artists to learn, network, and fabricate. As an art club based at the University of Toronto (UofT) John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, & Design, we host events, including an annual art project and student sale.

Support Black Designers is sponsored by:

The Daniels Faculty, Vistaprint, Above Ground Art Supplies, UofT Bookstores, Mulvey & Banani Lighting, Rising Youth, TakingIT Global, Government of Canada, Canada Service Corps, Dollarama.

Lights by TPL Lighting.

About Vistaprint

Vistaprint is the marketing partner to millions of small businesses around the world, empowering each one to live their dreams. For more than 20 years, we have helped small businesses look and feel credible through high-quality marketing products and solutions that include signage, logo apparel, promotional products, face masks, flyers, postcards, business cards, websites and digital marketing.

With Vistaprint, small businesses are able to create and customize their marketing with easy-to-use digital tools and design-templates, or by receiving expert graphic design support. In 2020, Vistaprint acquired 99designs to expand its design offering via a worldwide community of more than 150,000 talented designers to make it easy for designers and clients to work together to create designs they love. Vistaprint is focused on making great marketing and design accessible to every small business owner, allowing them to create a cohesive brand image for use in-store, online and on-the-go. To learn more, visit: Vistaprint is a Cimpress company (Nasdaq: CMPR).