Cheryl D. Miller

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Cheryl D. Miller
Cheryl D. Miller.jpg
Washington, D.C., United States
Alma materMaryland Institute College of Art
Pratt Institute
Union Theological Seminary (New York City)
graphic designer
decolonizing historian
Notable work
Transcending the Problems of the Black Designer to Success in the Marketplace (1985)
Black Designers Missing in Action (1987)

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. Her alma mater are the Maryland Institute College of Art, Pratt Institute, and Union Theological.

She is a Distinguished Senior Lecturer for Design at the University of Texas at Austin[1] and faculty member at Lesley University College of Art and Design where she teaches graphic design.[2]

In 2020 she was a Designer in Residence at the University of Texas at Austin School of Design and Creative Technologies.[3] And then in 2021 she became a Distinguished Scholar in Virtual Residence at Roger Williams University.

Early life[edit]

Miller was raised in a multiracial and multicultural family. Her father was African American from Washington, D.C. and her mother was Philippine American from St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Because of her background, Miller felt alienated. This experience was formative to her art practice. She was creative in her own isolation.[4]


Miller graduated from Calvin Coolidge High School. In 1985, she received a Masters of Science in Visual Communications at the Pratt Institute.[5] She attended the Rhode Island School of Design. When Miller's father died, she transferred to Maryland Institute College of Art where she live closer to her mother.[4]

After finishing school, she worked in broadcast design where she created on-air sets and graphics.[6] 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. She graduated from Union Theological Seminary.

Miller was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, February 2021.[7][8] This honor was highlighted by Hyperallergic in 2021.[9]


Before graduating, Miller was asked to make a contribution to the field of graphic design, instead of the usual visual design project.[4] In 1985, Miller wrote her graphic design thesis called, "Transcending the Problems of the Black Designer to Success in the Marketplace."[10] In 1987, Print Magazine published her thesis titled "Black Designers Missing in Action."[11][12] Her thesis started a movement to research and promote more diverse designers.[13]

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.[14]

Miller's articles are the cornerstone of AIGA's Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce.[6] She is further regarded as a trade writer to the graphic design industry.

Miller's influence on the way contemporary graphic designers critically engage with the discipline. Her influence on the direction of the field and creators who make up its community as demonstrated in a professional reflection by Tré Seals the founder of diversity driven foundry Vocal Type. Both Miller's thesis "Black Designers Missing In Action" and "Black Designers: Still Missing In Action" were highlighted as crucial text that paved the way for Black designers.[15] And on December 17, 2020, Miller spoke with Doreen Lorenzo for Designing Women calling her a social justice leader who has been fighting for inclusion for over 50 years.[16]

On September 28, 2020, Design Observer's Editors highlighted Miller's perspective on exclusive history of design and her recent 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[17]

Published on Medium in 2020 as part of Future of Design in Higher Education[18] 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.’"[19]


From 1984 to 2000, Miller ran her own design studio, Cheryl D. Miller Design Inc.[6] Some of the clients included BET, Chase, Time Inc., and American Express. Her personal work was acquired by Stanford University Libraries.[20]She is further collected at The Poster House, New York, and The Design Museum, The Hauge.

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.[21]

Christian ministry[edit]

Miller is also a professional Christian minister. She 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.


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


  1. ^ "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.
  2. ^ "Cheryl D. Miller | Lesley University". Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  3. ^ "Designing in the Dark: The Story of the Cheryl D. Miller Collection – School of Design and Creative Technologies – The University of Texas at Austin". College of Fine Arts – University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Cherry, Maurice (June 25, 2018). "Cheryl D. Miller". Revision Path. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  5. ^ Washington, Michele Y. (November 16, 2015). "Cheryl D. Miller". The Professional Association for Design. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c "Cheryl D. Miller's Design Journey". AIGA | the professional association for design. November 16, 2015. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  7. ^ "Cheryl D. Miller to Receive Honorary Degree". Vermont College of Fine Arts. February 6, 2021. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  8. ^ Cheryl Miller Honorary Doctorate by VCFA Board of Trustees and President, as nominated by the Graphi, retrieved February 24, 2021
  9. ^ 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.
  11. ^ University, Stanford (July 11, 2018). "How one question led to new Stanford archive". Stanford News. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  12. ^ Heller, Steven (June 18, 2019). Teaching Graphic Design History. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-62153-685-7.
  13. ^ Scherling, Laura; DeRosa, Andrew (February 20, 2020). Ethics in Design and Communication: Critical Perspectives. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-1-350-07701-0.
  14. ^ November 16; 2015. "Cheryl D. Miller's Design Journey". AIGA | the professional association for design. Retrieved September 2, 2020.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ "Typography is the root of graphic design – we should use it to be vocal". Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ "Terms of Service : September Edition". Design Observer. Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  18. ^ "Future of Design in Higher Education – Medium". Medium. Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  19. ^ Korsunskiy, Eugene (September 24, 2020). "Dismantling White Supremacy in Design Classrooms: My Conversation With Design Guru Cheryl D. Miller". Medium. Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  20. ^ "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.
  21. ^ "The Cheryl D Miller Portfolio 2020 – YouTube". Retrieved January 8, 2021.

External links[edit]