Author Archives: Courtney Richardson

openED archive identity


openED archive logo


openED archive Official logo


openED archive logo legacy colors

Legacy color scheme

The openED archive is the community archive of the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center (UCIMC) located in Urbana, IL. The archive contains a variety of materials about the establishing of the UCIMC, including: back issues of the Public i and other indymedia, radical newspapers and magazines, Illinois zines, WRFU radio recordings and more. [The UCIMC’s mission is to foster the creation and distribution of media and art that emphasizes underrepresented voices and perspectives, and to promote empowerment and expression through media and arts education.]

openED archive logo linocut

Linocut source for logo

The logo is based on a linocut print I created which made this a fun project. The type was based on an existing open font from The League of Moveable Type named League Mono. Being able to form the logo in this way paid homage to the UCIMC’s history of independent publishing, media and art work.

openED archive bird inspiration

UCIMC birds

The logo’s icon is inspired by a bird motif used continuously in UCIMC’s working groups, demonstrations, art and other visual collateral. This image only displays a small sample of birds displayed throughout the building. I worked at the archive as a research assistant, so after repeatedly encountering this bird motif, it was obvious to utilize it for the archive’s identity.

openED archive icons

openED archive icons

openED archive display

openED archive case display

openED archive logo posters

Poster/Signage series

GBAS Identity and Book Designs


GBAS logo, official orientation


GBAS logo, alternate orientation


GBAS icon and colors


Official and alternate orientations with supportive colors

The Global Business Anthropology Summit (GBAS) was held in Tech Town Detroit (MI) with the purpose of bringing “together an international group of practitioners and scholars to reflect on future directions for the field, training priorities for the next generation, and ways to strengthen our global networks (” For its second year, I was commissioned to design its identity.

Business Anthropology involves connecting the dots between business and human interaction with purpose of creating a more substantial experience between the two. I visualized this understanding of connecting dots and human-focus throughout the GBAS identity.


GBAS Report, 2018

Summit Report Book / Designed in its entirety

This report comprised of information shared throughout the summit, information about the various speakers and participants, and additional information on future steps.

GBAS report interior pages

GBAS report interior pages

GBAS report interior pages

GBAS report interior pages

Saddle-stitch book
7″ x 11″, 40 pages including cover
Cover: Digital color; White 120# Opus Dull Cover
Interior: Digital grayscale; White 32# Hammermill Color Copy Text


Business Anthropology Reprints Book, cover

Business Anthropology Reprints Book / Designed in its entirety

Prior to the GBAS identity and summit report, I was commissioned to design a book that comprised of multiple reprints about anthropology’s impact on the business world. The book was used to acquire sponsorship and interest for the Global Business Anthropology Summit to take place the following year (and also lead to me being hired for the previously noted projects :).

Allen Batteau, Professor of Anthropology at Wayne State University (Detroit, MI) and main coordinator of the summit, was great to work with. I was especially happy that he allowed me to play with the type design for this first project.

Business Anthropology Reprints Book, interior

Business Anthropology Reprints Book, interior

Perfect bound book
7″ x 9″, 58 pages including cover
Cover: Digital color; White 120# Opus Dull Cover
Interior: Digital grayscale; White 32# Hammermill Color Copy Text

*Thanks to Print Tech, Inc. (Ann Arbor, MI) for printing both the summit and reprints books.

Mad Creation Studio monogram


Mad Creation Studio monograms


Two monogram options: Designer’s choice (left) and Client’s choice (right)

Mad Creation Studio is a small business owned by seamstress, Mona Pitts, who offers a wide variety of custom clothing and specializes in using Ankara fabric.

I enjoyed creating both monograms for Mona. The initial designs I created did not resonate with her as they did with me, so we went back to the drawing board (literally). I am happy to say that we were both pleased with the final monogram shown top right and at the end of this post.


Mad Creation Studio logo


Mad Creation logo color variations


Initial logo design with color variations


Mad Creation swatch pattern


Initial monogram pattern play


Mad Creation Studio logo


Final logo

Mad Creation pattern

Final logo pattern play

Fluid Impressions Identity

MFA Thesis Exhibition Identity, 2017
Wayne State University, Art Department Gallery, Detroit, MI

Postcard designs, 7″x5″ (blue=Dominique; gold=Courtney)

Poster design, 11″x17″

Logo translated to vinyl sign + me and some of my studio-mates
(Left to Right: me, Dominique Chastenet de Géry, Matthew Garin, Ryan Herberholz, Judith Feist, Jessica Wildman, Robin Wager)

Give Get Pattern, New View Pattern

36″x52″, printed on cotton, 2017

Get Give Pattern

Give Get vector detail

New View Pattern

New View vector detail

I revisited my Mend Type and fabric studies. I wanted to refine the craft of them and reveal more of their initial concepts which involved: reviewing, remembering and forgetting. But I also wanted to retain some of its history by using similar colors and fabric.

Related project: Mend Typeface

*Photo credit: Matthew Garin

Claudette and Jeremiah

Panels: 20″x40″, inkjet on canvas, 2016

Reviewing images of Claudette Colvin and Jeremiah Reeves along with my previous overlap studies of Rosa Parks and Emmett Till.

Text: A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in Mississippi Meanwhile, a Mississippi Mother Burns Bacon by Gwendolyn Brooks

On March 2, 1955, Claudette Colvin, age 15, refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, AL segregated bus — 9 months prior to Rosa Parks. After being taught about black literature and past heroes such as Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, she explained how her knowledge and resolve would not allow her to rise from her seat. She had also previously experienced a classmate of hers, Jeremiah Reeves (age 16), being convicted and placed on Death Row for being falsely accused of serially raping white women. Despite efforts to free him, he was later executed by electric chair in 1958 at age 22.

I cannot fully remember how I came across Ms. Colvin’s name but it was during my research of Rosa Parks and Viola Liuzzo. I learned of Jeremiah’s name through writings about her. The parallels between Colvin/Reeves and Parks/Till being so apparent moved me to somehow link their identities in this project. So I reached back to my re-membering study about Parks and Till. Also during this time, I was taking a Modern Literature course and became more exposed to artists such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes and many others. I had previously examined Brooks’ poem of Bronzeville mother, which was written in response to Emmett Till’s murder. So all of these things or awarenesses just merged together for this project.

Related Project: Re-membering Study: Rosa Parks and Emmett Till

*Photo Credit: Matthew Garin (first image)

What’s in a Name: Viola Liuzzo, revisited

Inkjet prints, 32″x40″, 2017

Poster 1 of 12

Poster 7 of 12

Poster 9 of 12

Poster 12 of 12

I revisited my initial study (What’s in a Name: Viola Liuzzo) as an underlying grid to arrange and reveal more content behind Viola Liuzzo’s name. Across the 12 posters a passage is revealed as other surrounding content transitions from primary to supporting content.

Photographs gathered from various news clippings, FBI reports and book, From Selma to Sorrow: The Life and Death of Viola Liuzzo, Mary Stanton (1998). Photos of her park’s groundbreaking taken by myself.

Passage on posters by Rev. Malcolm Boyd as recorded in same book, From Selma to Sorrow, page 224:

It wasn’t easy knowing you, or even hearing you. I felt in fact, that you were often strong-willed, uncharitable, and impolite. But I saw you pouring out your life. I resented that too, as I safely clutched my own. But I did see you though sometimes I didn’t want you to know it.

Yes, I heard the criticism—and I joined in. At times I thought I hated you, because what you said and did cut so painfully against my mask, my security, my being.

I miss you very much. Thank you—for who you were and whose you were. You wouldn’t want me to wish you “peace,” and I could never think of you in any misalliance with a false truce or easy compromise.

But I do, with all heart, wish you peace with deep restlessness, a cock crowing at dawn to announce battle, and love to heal all the necessary wounds.

–Rev. Malcolm Boyd, “To a Prophet Dying Young”

Related projects:

*Photo Credit: Matthew Garin (first image)

Quicksand by Nella Larsen

Vinyl, embroidery, 12”x12” / 30”x30”, 2016
*Photo Credit: Matthew Garin

Text and inspiration from the book, Quicksand by Nella Larsen.

quicksand closeup

quicksand closeup

quicksand closeup

quicksand exhibit

Quicksand by Nella Larsen at Bent, But Unbroken Exhibition, 2017
(Charles H. Wright Museum, Detroit, MI)

Quicksand follows the life of character, Helga Crane, a woman of mixed, black/white, race during the 1920s who travels from place to place in search of lasting satisfaction that she never finds. She continually explores various predetermined categories for black women and becomes irritable once she runs into their walls. She would experience these moments during artistic happenings in the book such as dancing to jazz at a Harlem cabaret, gospel spirituals sung in a church service and experiencing black performers on stage during a vaudeville performance with a predominantly white audience in Copenhagen. This project focuses on the vaudeville performance and cabaret/jazz scene. In Copenhagen, she realizes that the white audience viewed her the same as the black performers on stage, a spectacle to be entertained and pleased by. In Harlem, after she enjoys dancing freely with other blacks she immediately shuts down her enjoyment by likening herself and those dancing to jungle creatures.

I was initially exposed to Larsen and Quicksand during my Modern Literature course. I enjoyed the author and book so much that I wrote my final essay about them. Here’s the concluding paragraph which may give more insight into this project:

All endings considered, Larsen sets up the reader to create their own next chapter for Helga’s life. The reader is left to wonder themselves about plausible avenues for Helga to travel away from her recurring dissatisfaction. Larsen again traps the reader into traveling with Helga versus observing her from a spectator’s position. Witnessing how Helga wonders and explores various stations in life triggered by irritation encourages the reader to move between their own irritation and wonderment about the available categories for identifying themselves in society. Just as music, specifically The Blues, creates space for outward participation and personal connection, Larsen has created this same space by pulling the readers into Quicksand with Helga. By intermingling her experiences with those of Helga and creating spaces for outside participation, she makes internal insight more accessible in improvisational form. The challenge of traveling the unknown is revealed and made available to those who choose to be dissatisfied with their stability.

Courtney Richardson, April 29, 2016
Essay: 325-326. Helga Nella
ENG 5450 (Modern American Literature):
“Feeling Modern: The Affects of Modernity”
Professor Jonathan Flatley

I also enjoyed ngai’s analysis of Quicksand, which I cited in my paper.
*ngai, sianne. Ugly Feelings. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2004. Print.

Quickhand typeface

Inkjet print, 20″x36″, 2016

Process drawings

I revisited the technique I used for the Mend study. Instead of overlapping roman and italic styles of a found typeface, I overlapped my own print/cursive handwriting. I’m still playing with the concept of visualizing 2 sides of the same story by using 2 styles of the same typeface. By switching to my own handwriting, I noticed how time adds another element. As I rewrote lines of letters at different speeds I noticed shapes and angles changed in relationship to my writing speed. This gave me more to think about regarding memory and/or storytelling shared over varying timespans.

Related project: Mend Typeface

*Photo Credit: Matthew Garin (first image)

Rose Pattern

*Photo Credit: Matthew Garin

Piece 2 of 3, 2016

Chiffon, linen, embroidery, 54″x58″

*Photo Credit: Laura Maker

*Photo Credit: Robin Wagner

I revisited a piece from the previous re-membering study of Rosa Parks and created a pattern from it. During this time, I was studying quilts, specifically those with narrative and archival functionality. I wanted to add content back into the graphical shapes that I had earlier stripped to present another perspective. I’m currently working on expanding this into a 3 piece series to reveal more (and less) of this narrative.

Related project: Re-membering Study: Rosa Parks and Emmett Till


Inkjet prints and tracing paper, 24″x36″, 2016

Infogestion: Am More than Four, 2017

This series is a collection of my personal responses to various readings assigned during an English Modern Literature course in 2016. Each poster represents a month of responses (containing at least 4 short writings and a few essays). I really enjoyed this class as many writings inspired other projects. It really opened my eyes to artistic qualities and techniques of writers/poets. However, the course was no walk in the park in regard to assignment quantity. I am in no way an English major so there were times where I felt completely congested with word and analysis — hence the title, Info-gestion. Initial titles that emerged from the overlapping were: (1) Moments (2) by Parts (3) of the Year.

The first 3 pictured with tracing overlays spell out “infogestion” in the the cut-outs (using Mend typeface letterforms). The 4th poster was compiled the following semester. This one stood out from the previous 3 as far as timing and my responses. The title that emerged, “Am More than Four,” aligned with my overall thesis of piecing together various accounts of the same happening to display a fuller (or complex) picture. At the conclusion of my literature class, I allowed time to pass before revisiting and no longer felt the tracing paper to be necessary.

Related Project: Mend Typeface

Portion of readings/listenings if you’re interested:
(B = book)

  • Andy Warhol:
    • POPism (B)
    • “What Is Pop Art?”
    • The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (B)
  • Bessie Smith:
    • “Jailhouse Blues”
    • “St. Louis Blues”
  • Charles Baudelaire:
    • “Modernity,” from “The Painter of Modern Life” (B)
    • Flowers of Evil (B)
  • Frank O’Hara:
    • “Having a Coke with You”
    • “Music”
  • Gertrude Stein:
    • “A Transatlantic Interview”
    • Tender Buttons (B)
  • Gwendolyn Brooks:
    • Essential Gwendolyn Brooks (B)
    • “A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in Mississippi.
      Meanwhile, a Mississippi Mother Burns Bacon.”
    • “The Mother”
  • Herbert Marcuse: “The Affirmative Character of Culture,” in Negations (B)
  • Langston Hughes:
    • “The Weary Blues”
    • “Cat and the Saxophone (2 AM)”
    • “The Negro Artist and The Racial Mountain” (1926)
    • “Cross”
  • Matei Calinescu: Five Faces of Modernity,
    Chapter 1 “The Idea of Modernity,” 13-41 (B)
  • Nella Larsen: Quicksand (B)
  • sianne ngai: “Irritation,” Ugly Feelings (B)
  • Susan Buck-Morss: “Aesthetics and Anaesthetics” (B)
  • T.S. Eliot:
    • “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”
    • “Tradition and the Individual Talent”
    • “The Waste Land”
    • “Ulysses, Order and Myth”
  • Ursula K. Le Guin: The Dispossessed (B)
  • Walter Benjamin: “On Some Motifs in Baudelaire” (B)

*Photo Credit: Matthew Garin

Archive Collection: Viola Liuzzo


Panels: digital prints mounted on matte board, 10.75″x12″, 18 total

A Developing Story (After Effects video)
Abstraction of news clip image about murder of Viola Liuzzo

Booklet: digitally printed, spiral bound, 9″x3.5″, 34 pages (3-way split)

Video of book flip

Content retrieved from news clippings, FBI reports and biographical book, From Selma to Sorry: The Life and Death of Viola Liuzzo, Mary Stanton.

The booklet was designed after matching-teaching aid books where the user has to flip panels/pages to complete or define various images. I redesigned the book as more of a memory book. All panels are not arranged to read as 1 image but are instead mix-matched in most segments to replicate the retelling and mixture of stories and memories. An intro page is included to briefly explain who Viola Liuzzo was. The concluding page gives information about efforts to revitalize her park and a weblink to join or learn more. Article and book citations are noted with the images throughout the book.

The panels were later created as another version of the book.

Related Project: What’s in a Name: Viola Liuzzo, revisited

Mend typeface

Inkjet print, 20″x36″, 2016

Mend Typeface play, After Effects animation

Process drawings, 2015

This study was created by overlapping 2 styles of the same typeface. Thinking about other ways to visually study memory, I likened this to overlapping 2 sides of the same story. After working with photography overlap studies, I wanted to explore type. While browsing The Library of Congress online archive I found a lettering manual, Standard Lettering by Roy C. Claflin, 1883. It contained various unnamed classic-appearing typefaces. I chose the Modern typeface with roman and italic style uppercase. I appreciated the ambiguity of the typeface’s origin as it allowed me to take a mental break from the earlier/heavier civil rights collages but still allowed me to explore memory and narrative.

*Photo Credit: Matthew Garin (first image)

What’s in a Name series

What’s in a Name: Dr. Ossian Sweet, Rosa Slade Gragg, Viola Liuzzo, 2014

Fabric on plywood, 32” x 38”

What’s in a Name: Ossian Sweet

*Photo Credit: Matthew Garin

*Photo Credit: Matthew Garin

What’s in a Name: Rosa Slade Gragg

What’s in a Name: Viola Liuzzo

*Photo Credit: Matthew Garin

*Photo Credit: Matthew Garin

This was a visual exploration of recreating name-signage to replicate the experience of seeing without seeing. Sparked from visiting Viola Liuzzo’s playground, I observed that before I learned about her, I could have seen the sign of her name many times without really seeing it – or seeing the significance behind her name.

Passage from studio tumblr / My experience after visiting Viola’s playground in Winter 2015:

The name plates stood out to me the most. Some were more degraded than others but it seemed to be a direct connection to the degradation of our memory of Viola Liuzzo. The signs were still legible but have in a sense gone unread for many years. I have seen parks and playgrounds named after people whom I did not know. So I believe I would have treated Viola’s sign the same had I not been previously informed. How could someone’s name who had such an impact locally and nationally exist in front of me and unknown? This question became the start of my next exploration series, What’s in a Name.

A little background of each name

Viola Liuzzo

Liuzzo was an activist, mother, wife and student who resided in Detroit, MI. In 1965, she shuttled volunteers between Selma and Montgomery for a march in response to the murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson. On March 25, at 39 years old, she was murdered in her car by members of the KKK, one of whom was an FBI informant. The murder of Viola immediately followed the end of the march and brought national attention that assisted in the passing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Her murder raised questions for many about the acceptable roles for white American women. Due to the FBI’s involvement in her murder, Viola was portrayed in the media as a disturbed rebel and outsider. Decades would pass before her legacy as a loving mother, wife, friend and caregiver would begin to surface. Decades later, the memories of Viola as a fiery, passionate individual are still outweighed by the story of her murder.

Courtney Richardson in Archive Collection project (booklet), 2015

*Liuzzo’s description is more extensive because I spent the most time researching her story through my projects. I plan to return to Gragg and Sweet in future projects.

Rosa Slade Gragg

Gragg was a civic leader. Born in Georgia, she lived most of her adult life in Detroit, MI.  In 1947 she founded the first black vocational school in Detroit, The Slade-Gragg Academy of Practical Arts (known as the Tuskegee of the north). She also founded a building for the Detroit Association of Colored Women’s Clubs in 1941. Gragg also advised multiple U.S. Presidents among many other achievements. Read more.

Dr. Ossian Sweet

In 1920s Detroit, Sweet along with his wife and friends endured a famous court trial for defending their home against a white mob. The trial was a pertinent segment in the Civil Rights Movement because it brought national attention to the discriminatory tactics of redlining and restrictive covenants against blacks in Detroit and other northern cities.

Learn more from book: Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age, Kevin Boyle

*2nd, 4th and 5th photos taken by Matthew Garin (

Related Project: What’s in a Name Viola Liuzzo, revisited

Viola piece displayed in Just My Type Exhibition hosted by Whitdel Arts (2016).

Re-membering Study: Rosa Parks and Emmett Till

Collage, inkjet prints, 2015

16”x20” (collage), 7.5”x9.5” (middle), 7.75”x 7.75” (top)

*Photo Credit, Matthew Garin


Degradation Mix, 2015 (previous study)

Undetermined, 2015 (previous study)
Digital prints, transparencies, tracing and construction paper

*Photo Credit, Matthew Garin

Initial installation
*This includes a third study that I have not revisited yet.

*Photo Credit, Matthew Garin

My studies about memory and history began with collage work. I intuitively cut Civil Rights photographs into pieces and glued them back together in different arrangements and painted over with watercolor. My goal was to visualize the act of re-memebering. Initial Inspiration was sparked the phrase “gap in reality” by Primo Levi. He discussed a relationship between distortion of memory and reality through progression of time, experience and narrative.

After allowing some time to pass, I revisited the collages digitally by removing the photographic content, leaving on graphic shapes in their place. Then I cropped a portion of that graphic to further remove the image from its origin. Here I am studying the transformative properties of memory and narrative and questioning the value of what is left behind or created.

Related Projects: