The pioneering designs of Thomas Miller

Motorola, Bauer & Black, and 7 Up—just some of the names that Thomas Miller worked on during his career at Goldsholl Associates. He’s also best known for his mosaics in the lobby of the DuSable Museum of African-American History in Chicago. The Black American designer worked on everything from logo design to animation, but, like many of his peers in the 20th century, his journey was fraught with racism:

“I had to be super-qualified,” he told Fitzpatrick. “I took things in art that weren’t necessary, like airbrushing and retouching and things you didn’t have to do because I wanted to be prepared in case someone would ask me to. They couldn’t use that as an excuse for me being not qualified.” In the design profession, he discovered another rigid color line: a racism more genteel than a Klan march but no less degrading for the young professional. The Ray-Vogue School, for instance, limited the number of Black students who could enroll. On the job market, Miller experienced racism in moments that could have come from the pages of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. “You’re very talented,” one prospective employer told Miller. “Too bad you are so dark.” Another suggested he could work but only behind a screen, out of sight from clients. 

via AIGA Eye on Design

AIGA awarded Miller the 2021 AIGA Medal for his pioneering work in the design industry.

Read more about Thomas Miller on the Chicago Design Archive website and SoulFul Design.