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Markeith, a college student in Little Lights’ Next Step College and Career Program, is currently studying fine arts at Morgan State University. This summer, he completed a month-long virtual Art and Design Internship with Ricky Altizer. Below, Ricky shares his reflections on working with Markeith:

Graphic design is a fantastic pursuit for a young person who is creatively inclined. Not only can it be a creatively fulfilling line of work, but the skills and services of graphic designers are needed in virtually every industry. Whether in technology, government, large companies, and mission-driven non-profits, there is a consistent demand for branding, digital, and print materials for marketing and communication. That creates an abundance of good-paying jobs for people entering the workforce with graphic design skills.

However, there are significant barriers to entering the design field, which compound with other social inequities. In 2016, AIGA, the professional association for design conducted a Design Census, showing that 73% percent of those surveyed are White, while 9% were Hispanic, 8% were Asian, and only 3% were Black. This lack of representation is caused by many factors, the steep cost of art education, including the need for mentorship, and the all-too-common practice of businesses offering unpaid internships — which makes early-career opportunities exclusive to students who can afford to work for free.

Powered by Little Lights, we were able to create a paid Art and Design Internship running throughout June, where Markeith supported my private freelance practice by collaborating on poster concepts, illustrations, and T-shirt designs. In this 4-week experience, we did workshops to learn about typography, logo design, poster design, illustration, and design software and tools. Additionally, we heard presentations, Q&A, and guest critiques from 2 people: Tyree Brown, a DC-based artist and disability advocate, as well as Andrew Arreola, who led a session on communication as a creative professional through email and resume-building. 

I believe that investing in the next generation of creatives is always, always worthwhile. Internships were how I got my start in graphic design, and those internships opened doors to begin my career. It was such an honor to get to offer this internship experience, and to work with a young artist and designer like Markeith. I know he will go far!

Markeith’s enthusiasm about art, interest in learning, and killer sense of humor made for a super fun month working together. It was a joy meeting with him 3 times a week to create work I’m proud of!

Little Lights is incredibly grateful for Ricky’s willingness to share his passion for design and for allowing Markeith to learn from him this summer.

We are proud of Markeith’s hard work and we look forward to equipping more students like him to flourish in the classroom and beyond!