The ABCs of HBCUs by Claudia Walker

Logo + Brand Identity • Cover + Interior Page Illustration • Book Layout Design

The Challenge

When Claudia Walker decided it was time to publish The ABCs of HBCUs, a children's book she had been writing for two years, she had very specific hopes for the illustrator who would help bring it to life. She scoured the internet for an illustrator who happened to be an HBCU graduate, someone who would innately understand the culture and history of the prose and translate these intangibles into authentic aesthetics.

By the time Claudia slid into my Instagram DMs in May 2020, it took just a few minutes before we both realized the incredible twist of fate at hand. Not only were we both HBCU graduates and Black women creatives, we were also both alumnae of Spelman College.

As first-time author and first-time book illustrator, we embarked on a journey to create the first children's board book celebrating the rich legacy of historically black colleges and universities.

The Solution

Once I heard the book concept, I could visualize the cover immediately: a modern and punchy "schoolhouse red" overlaid with a pattern of textured, but youthful geometric shapes.

The children characters on the cover and throughout the book not only needed to represent diverse complexions, but they had to display a range of hair textures, body types, and physical ability. The characters' faces needed to be blank, for more universal appeal, so that children readers could easily imagine the characters as themselves. The characters' appearance also needed to reflect the trendsetting fashion and cultural hairstyles for which HBCU campuses are renowned. I relied on historical references and my personal experiences as a two-time HBCU graduate to inform my conceptual approach.

Beyond Illustration

In addition to creating the illustrations for the book, I also designed the book's logo, brand identity, and print layout.

Art directing the book's font pairings, color palette, and illustration style not only provided the author with a more seamless production experience, it also helped shape an intentional, consistent, and cohesive foundation for building brand recognition and opening possibilities for the author for future product extensions.



Claudia Walker Speaks About Our Author-Illustrator Experience in October 2020 Interview with

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