While distinguished for its creative and digital offerings to federal clients, the Deloitte Digital D.C. studio is perhaps best known to those of us that work there as a place of celebration. With a unique culture that honors diverse backgrounds, talents, and ideas, the studio makes time to celebrate hard work (and have a little fun, too). From the launch and delivery of a new application or a studio-wide ping-pong tournament, the studio is no stranger to a themed happy hour or a mean ice cream social. In light of Black History Month, D.C.’s Studio Coordinator Sherlie Cean saw an opportunity for the studio to celebrate in a special way.
Since opening in September, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) has been one of the D.C. area’s most popular attractions—drawing people from all over the world to see “the American story through the lens of African American history and culture.”
But with its popularity comes an equally long wait list—with tourists and locals alike vying months in advance for an opportunity to view the more than 36,000 artifacts that call the museum home.
Sherlie and Creative Director Justin Howard decided to bring NMAAHC to the D.C. studio. They created a poster series to celebrate the contributions of African Americans—starting by compiling a list of 41 influential people (41 to commemorate the 41st anniversary of Black History Month in the United States), such as Muhammed Ali and Marvel Cook.
The idea was simple: Pick a name out of a bowl, design a poster. But for a group of creatives who could make a basic PDF feel like a magical movie scene, the idea took on a new and extravagant life of its own.
Per the design guidelines, D.C. studio participants were encouraged to use any medium or style of their choosing to represent and/or express their selected individual in a 10 x 15.5-inch format. Across disciplines, designers, engineers, technologists, and tinkerers—makers and breakers of things—took to traditional and modern forms of art to develop their posters, all while sharing ideas, tips, and insights along the way. Juxtaposed against brainstormed notes and scribbles of the raw creative process, posters began filling the walls of the studio’s main gathering space.
The D.C. studio’s celebration of Black History Month taught us that our people are extraordinarily talented and can make some pretty cool stuff (as if we didn’t already know that). But most importantly, we learned that when we take the time to celebrate history and learn about those who have made an impact, we also celebrate each other and our ideas.
Emily Lorenz is a senior content strategist for federal clients in the Deloitte Digital D.C. studio.