US digital artist talks representation of minorities in graphic design

Jeff Manning’s work is inspired by music and informed by the need to represent minorities in graphic design.

According to graphic design artist Jeff Manning, there’s a gap between graphic design and Afrocentricity that he hopes to bridge with his work. Injustices against minorities and the way minorities are portrayed in the media have come to the forefront of people’s minds in recent years. Based in Philadelphia in the United States, Manning hopes to make a difference with his work.

“For a long time, I've felt that people of colour needed to be a lot more represented in Graphic Design and Digital Art,” he explains.

Using his Associates Degree in Graphic Design, Manning creates digital art informed by music, in particular, the neo-soul - a combination of soul and contemporary R&B.

“Music is what really sets the tone for me to get going,” explains the artist. “I usually listen to a specific song from one of my favorite genres of music and then create artwork that is fuelled by the vibe that I get from the song.”

As for upcoming artists, Manning says the key is to focus on branding: “The way that a person brands themselves is what will attract people to be even more interested in what you have to offer as an artist and entity.”

Manning is expected to release a book in March this year. Called Interpretations, the book will talk about the inspirations and meanings behind selected pieces of his works. The book will also feature a few unreleased pieces of artwork.