Cheryl D. Miller

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cheryl D. Miller
Cheryl D. Miller in 2021
Born1952 (age 71–72)
Washington, D.C., United States
Alma materMaryland Institute College of Art
Pratt Institute
Union Theological Seminary (New York City)
Rhode Island School of Design
graphic designer
decolonizing historian
decolonial artists
Known forDecolonization of Graphic Design
Notable workTranscending the Problems of the Black Designer to Success in the Marketplace (1985)
Black Designers Missing in Action (1987)
AwardsAIGA Medalist "Expanding Access" 2021,

Cooper Hewitt "Design Visionary" 2021

The One Club Hall of Fame Inductee 2022

Cheryl D. Holmes Miller (born 1952) is an American graphic designer, Christian minister, writer, artist, theologian, and decolonizing historian. She is known for her contributions to racial and gender equality in the graphic design field, and establishing one of the first black-women-owned design firms in New York City in 1984. Her alma maters are the Maryland Institute College of Art, Pratt Institute, Rhode Island School of Design, and Union Theological.

Early life and education[edit]

Miller is of African American and Philippine American ancestry and identifies as BIPOC. Her paternal family is from Washington, D.C. and her maternal family is Filipino Creole from the U.S. Virgin Islands. Miller's grandmother was an indigenous Danish west Indian and Ghanaian. Her great-great grandmother is of Ghanaian descent from St. Johns. Her Philippine grandfather was part of the U.S. Filipino navy as a steward's cook during WWI in 1917. Her grandparents met at the USO and married. Having three Filipino lineages of their own, Miller's mother being one of them. Her mother, a Filipino-Creole, came to the United States to attend Howard University. Her maternal Afro-Caribbean Saint-Tomian cousin Larry was installed as a chief of their tribe. Their tribe are artisans, specifically shipbuilders, wood carvers and make decorative coffins. Her paternal grandfather was white and American Indian with Patriotic daughters of American Revolution DNA.[1]

Miller's parents met at Howard University in Washington, D.C. where they settled and began the family of their own. She was a Girl Scout and when she won her first award, she was published on the section covers of The Washington Post and Washington Star. As a child, Miller spent most of her days at museums looking at an era of contemporary art and the cadre of Washington color field schools. In 1969, her teacher told her that she will never make it as an artist, but her specific experiences and heritage became formative to her art practice.[1]

Miller graduated from Calvin Coolidge High School. In 1985, she received a Masters of Science in Visual Communications at the Pratt Institute.[2] As a thesis project, she was asked to make a contribution to the field of graphic design and instead of a visual design project she wrote "Transcending the Problems of the Black Designer to Success in the Marketplace" as her thesis.[3][4] Miller's 1985 thesis studies design, sociology and history to give a portrait of African American job prospects.[5]

She attended the Rhode Island School of Design for her BFA, but when Miller's father died second year, she transferred to Maryland Institute College of Art where she lived closer to her mother.[3] She earned her BFA from MICA.

Miller was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters from the Vermont College of Fine Arts in February 2021.[6]

In May 2022, Miller was awarded a Doctor of Fine Arts from Maryland Institute College of Art.[7][8]

In June 2022, Miller was awarded a Doctor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design.[9][10]

In May 2023, Miller received an honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from Pratt Institute.


After finishing school, Miller worked in broadcast design where she created on-air sets and graphics.[11] During this time she created the logo and identity for BET. After 10 years in broadcasting, she moved to New York City and attended Pratt Institute, and then graduated from Union Theological Seminary.


In 1987, Print Magazine published an article on Miller's thesis titled "Black Designers Missing in Action."[12][13] The thesis and article started a movement to research and promote more diverse designers and for the industry to develop a discourse on the role of diversity in the practice.[14][5][15] In 1990, by Step-by-Step magazine published "Embracing Cultural Diversity in Design". In 2013 she wrote a memoir, Black Coral: A Daughter's Apology to her Asian Island Mother.[16] In 2016, the magazine published a follow-up to the 1987 article. The article spurred Stanford University design scholar Michael Grant and the library's special collection director, Regina Roberts, to archive the thesis and catalog of Miller's design work in the Cheryl D. Miller Collection the university. Miller's research found that post-Civil War, the Typographic Union of white printers shut out black and women artisans from the industry to further their own business goals.[5]

Miller's articles are the cornerstone of AIGA's Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce.[11] She is regarded as a trade writer to the graphic design industry. Her influence is seen in the way contemporary graphic designers critically engage with the discipline, on the direction of the field and creators who make up its community, and her thesis is highlighted as crucial text that paved the way for Black designers.[17] Her writing encourages designers and critics to examine the design cannon and discover diverse voices and work who shaped the design industry today. She contends its important due to design's role in social history and by not documenting or understanding all of the industry's practitioners, our society has a weaker understanding of humanity.[18]

In 2020, Miller began additional work decolonizing the history of graphic design through a curated database titled The History of Black Graphic Design, a curated database constructed with the support of Stanford University librarians[18]

Published on Medium in 2020 as part of Future of Design in Higher Education[19] after watching Miller present at IIT Institute of Design, Eugene Korsunskiy writes about their experience listening to Miller share her views about contemporary graphic design elements that symbolize racism and oppression.

"I would like to retire the Paul Rand look. I would like to retire mid-century Helvetica. I want to retire flush left. I want to retire rag right. I want to retire white space. I want to retire the Swiss grid… It is the look of my oppressor… a mid-century era when it wasn’t easy to enter the NY marketplace as a Black designer. When I see that look, the only thing it says to me is, "You cannot enter. You don't belong. You're not good enough."[20]


In 1984, Miller moved to New York City with her husband, and until 2000, ran her own design studio, Cheryl D. Miller Design Inc.[11][15] Some of the clients included BET, Chase, Time Inc., and American Express. Her personal work was acquired by Stanford University Libraries.[21] She is further collected at The Poster House, New York, and The Design Museum, The Hague.[citation needed] In 1992, Miller was commissioned by NASA to create the poster for Dr. Mae Jeminson. America's first African American woman astronaut.[22]

Available on YouTube, Miller reflects on your long career as a designer. She showcases pieces from her portfolio that are now part of Stanford University's Special Collections and Archives.[23]

On April 3, 2021, Miller was an expert guest on the Design Dedux podcast, where she spoke about gender and race equality in graphic design.[24]

Christian ministry[edit]

Miller is a Master of Divinity graduate from the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. She was ordained in the United Church of Christ and the American Baptist Churches USA and is a professional Christian minister.[1]

Awards and residencies[edit]

AIGA Medal awarded to Miller in 2021 for Expanding Access

In 2021, Miller was awarded an AIGA Award, one of the highest distinctions in the design field, to designers whose influence, careers, and bodies of work represent exemplary and unique stories of dedication to craft, career growth, and the tightly woven fabric of design, technology, culture, and society. "Miller is recognized for her outsized influence within the profession to end the marginalization of BIPOC designers through her civil rights activism, industry exposé writing, research rigor, and archival vision.".[25] Additionally, the same year, Miller was awarded Cooper Hewitt's "Design Visionary" award.[26]

During the 2020 academic year, Miller became the Distinguished Senior Lecturer for Design and Designer in Residence at the University of Texas at Austin.[27] She is also a faculty member at Howard University and Lesley University College of Art and Design where she teaches graphic design.[28]

In 2021, Cheryl became Maryland Institute College of Art William O. Steinzmetz Designer in Residence Scholar.[29] As part of this residency, Miller participated in "Voices: Black Graphic Design History,” where she held conversations with three other Steinmetz D webinar lectures.[30] In 2021, IBM announced that Miller would be the inaugural IBM Design Scholar as part of its Honorary IBM Design Scholar residency program.[31]

Miller was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, February 2021.[32][33][34] In May 2022, Miller was awarded a Doctor of Fine Arts from Maryland Institute College of Art.[7][8] In June 2022, Miller was awarded a Doctor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design.[35][10]

In October 2022, Miller was a The One Club Hall of Fame Inductee 2022.

Commencement Speeches[edit]

In May 2022, Miller gave a commencement address to graduating students at the Maryland Institute College of Arts. In June 2022, Miller gave a commencement address to undergraduate and graduate students at the Rhode Island School of Design.


  • Cheryl D Miller (May 1985). "Black Designers Missing in Action". Scribd. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  • Black Coral: A Daughter’s Apology to her Asian Island Mother, Aage Heritage Press, 2013. ISBN 9780989263207
  • Cheryl D Miller (October 2020). "Trilogy Series Black Designers Missing in Action". PRINT. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  • Cheryl D Miller (December 2020). "From 'Black Designers: Missing in Action' to 'Forward in Action': 3 Essential Industry Articles". PRINT. Retrieved 2021-01-06.
  • Cheryl D Miller "Black Artist in Graphic Communication"

List of work and collaborative experiences[edit]

  • William O. Steinzmetz Designer in Residence Scholar at Maryland College Institute of Art, April 2021–present
  • Part-time Adjunct Professor at Howard University, February 2021–present[36]
  • Part-time Distinguished Senior Lecturer at the University of Texas (Austin, TX), January 2021–present[36]
  • Part-time Distinguished Lectured at Roger William University, January 2021–present[36]
  • Part-time Adjunct Professor at Lesley University, January 2021–present[36]
  • President Consultant, Cheryl D. Miller Design/ Cheryl D. Miller Fine Art, 2019–present[36]
  • Design Diversity Futurist, Design Diversity Group, June 2018–present[36]
  • Contributing Archivist; Collected Artist, The Cheryl D. Miller Collection at Stanford University, March 2018–present[36]
  • Part-time Professor of DEI, in Communication Design at ArtCenter September 2022–present

Collections and exhibitions[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Cheryl D. Miller: The History of 'Where are the Black designers?'". YouTube. September 9, 2020. Archived from the original on April 24, 2021. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  2. ^ Washington, Michele Y. (November 16, 2015). "Cheryl D. Miller". The Professional Association for Design. Archived from the original on December 7, 2015. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Cherry, Maurice (June 25, 2018). "Cheryl D. Miller". Revision Path. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  4. ^ Miller, Cheryl (June 16, 2020). "TRANSCENDING THE PROBLEMS OF THE BLACK GRAPHIC DESIGNER TO SUCCESS IN THE MARKETPLACE" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on June 20, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Lorenzo, Doreen (December 17, 2020). "'They've stolen our history': Why one designer has been fighting for inclusion for 50 years". Fast Company. Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  6. ^ Bowditch, Alexandra (February 9, 2021). "Vermont College of Fine Arts Honors Cheryl D. Miller, Tireless Advocate for Black Graphic Designers". Hyperallergic. Retrieved January 2, 2022.
  7. ^ a b "2022 Honorary Degree Recipients". MICA. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  8. ^ a b MICA Commencement 2022, retrieved June 8, 2022
  9. ^ "RISD Commencement Celebrates the Classes of 2020 and 2022 | RISD". Retrieved June 8, 2022.
  10. ^ a b Cheryl D. Miller | Commencement Address | RISD Commencement 2022, retrieved June 8, 2022
  11. ^ a b c "Cheryl D. Miller's Design Journey". AIGA | the professional association for design. November 16, 2015. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  12. ^ "How one question led to new Stanford archive". Stanford News. July 11, 2018. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  13. ^ Heller, Steven (June 18, 2019). Teaching Graphic Design History. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-62153-685-7.
  14. ^ Scherling, Laura; DeRosa, Andrew (February 20, 2020). Ethics in Design and Communication: Critical Perspectives. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-1-350-07701-0.
  15. ^ a b "2021 AIGA Medalist: Cheryl D. Miller". Retrieved January 3, 2022.
  16. ^ "Cheryl D. Miller's Design Journey". AIGA. November 16, 2015. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  17. ^ "Typography is the root of graphic design – we should use it to be vocal". Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  18. ^ a b "Terms of Service : September Edition". Design Observer. Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  19. ^ "Future of Design in Higher Education – Medium". Medium. Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  20. ^ Korsunskiy, Eugene (September 24, 2020). "Dismantling White Supremacy in Design Classrooms: My Conversation With Design Guru Cheryl D. Miller". Medium. Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  21. ^ "Famed graphic designer and racial, cultural and gender equity advocate Cheryl D. Miller donates personal archive to Stanford Libraries". Stanford Libraries. Stanford University. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  22. ^ Roberts, Regina. "The Diversity, Advocacy, & Inclusion work of Cheryl D. Miller". Design Diversity Group. Archived from the original on March 4, 2021. Retrieved April 10, 2021.
  23. ^ "The Cheryl D Miller Portfolio 2020 – YouTube". Retrieved January 8, 2021.
  24. ^ "036. Cheryl D. Holmes Miller on Gender and Race Equality in Graphic Design (S4E4) – Peter Bella". April 3, 2021. Retrieved May 7, 2021.
  25. ^ "Press Releases | Meet AIGA's Awards Recipients, representing the vibrant spectrum of design excellence | AIGA". Retrieved May 7, 2021.
  26. ^ "2021 National Design Awards | Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum". August 30, 2021. Retrieved March 27, 2022.
  27. ^ "Cheryl D. Miller, M.S., M.Div – School of Design and Creative Technologies – The University of Texas at Austin". College of Fine Arts – University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved January 24, 2021.
  28. ^ "Cheryl D. Miller | Lesley University". Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  29. ^ "MICA names four William O. Steinmetz '50 Designers-in-Residence, bringing together three generations of cultural activists". MICA. Retrieved April 5, 2021.
  30. ^ "Baltimore Fishbowl | The history of Black graphic design, explored by MICA -". Baltimore Fishbowl. March 31, 2021. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  31. ^ Prentice, Nigel (October 6, 2021). "IBM announces the Honorary IBM Design Scholar and its inaugural Program Resident, Dr". IBM Design. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  32. ^ "Cheryl D. Miller to Receive Honorary Degree". Vermont College of Fine Arts. February 6, 2021. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  33. ^ Cheryl Miller Honorary Doctorate by VCFA Board of Trustees and President, as nominated by the Graphi, retrieved February 24, 2021
  34. ^ Bowditch, Alexandra (February 9, 2021). "Vermont College of Fine Arts Honors Cheryl D. Miller, Tireless Advocate for Black Graphic Designers". Hyperallergic. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  35. ^ "RISD Commencement Celebrates the Classes of 2020 and 2022 | RISD". Retrieved June 8, 2022.
  36. ^ a b c d e f g Cheryl D., Miller. "Experience". LinkedIn. Retrieved April 21, 2021.
  37. ^ "Famed graphic designer and racial, cultural and gender equity advocate Cheryl D. Miller donates personal archive to Stanford Libraries". Stanford Libraries. May 16, 2018. Archived from the original on June 13, 2018. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
  38. ^ a b c "About Cheryl D. Miller Fine Art". Cheryl D. Miller Fine Art. 2018. Archived from the original on September 30, 2020. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  39. ^ "Cooper Union Establishes Collection of Black Design with Cheryl D. Miller's Gift". The Cooper Union. Retrieved May 18, 2022.

External links[edit]