Prior to MAIP my access to Black industry professionals were very limited. Going into the program, I knew my end-goal was to run my own agency, and work with a range of brands across the board. In school, we didn’t learn much about any Black-run agencies, so during my internship, I made it a point to start doing my own research in my downtime. The first person, was the iconic Tom Burrell, followed by Bill Sharp, however I was really digging deep to find a Black woman who’d accomplished what I was pursuing. Ownership. The first person I discovered was Carolyn R. Jones. I found I aligned with her in so many ways, from her interesting start into the industry, down to her health battles. I truly wish I could have met her in-person. To this day, what I’ve learned about her has served as a driving force behind everything that I do.
Year 1: The Big Idea
Post-MAIP, I finished my M.A. at the University of Texas at Austin, and made the leap to Chicago to start my journey as an art director at Digitas. Halfway into my first-year there, I started to realize how many other young black ad professionals were searching for the same representation that I was, the same motivation and inspiration. So in February 2016, I launched a Black History Month Campaign that highlighted key figures in advertising and media. People responded incredibly well, so I took things a step further, and featured some active leaders in the industry during Women’s History Month.
Year 2: R&D
The following year I partnered with ADCOLOR to re-share the coverage that had been developed during our first year. During year two I also began consulting with ad professionals within the industry about different content directions and the possibilities for growth in Blacks in Advertising. I took year 2 to really lay down a plan of action, to take a small Black History Month project, into something that was evergreen and could nurture the Black Ad Community year-round.
Year 3: The Next Phase
I’ve learned a lot along this journey of building a non-profit and defining the brand. In the commercial space, I’ve worked with a range of brands from beauty to grocery and food services, to beer and telecom. Clients have entrusted me with their brand story, but when you’re directing something for yourself, it’s a totally different ballgame. You critique yourself harder, you spend time going down a rabbit hole in areas that shouldn’t take more than a blink to mull through. This is literally your kid, and you want the best for our child, you want to see her grown to her full potential.
This process has taught me to be kind to myself and to embrace change and growth. When you look through the IG feed, you’ll see the evolution of the visual identity, and I love that. At first I was going to delete some of the early posts but it’s the realest you’ll get. I’ve also honed in on building partnerships that are mutually beneficial. During Year 2, a big period of research and development, working with ADCOLOR to re-share content from the first year helped me remain present within the ad community. I also began to collect feature stories from young execs in the field. This year, I partnered with Ericka Riggs and the Ad Club of New York to lead the design and visual direction for a collaborative series of active Black Icons and Rockstars in our industry.
In Spring 2018, I’m focusing on building a strong auxiliary board, advisory council, and arsenal of content contributors. The three categories provide a range of ways to get involved, whether you’re a C-Suite exec or a junior looking for a way to shape your skills while volunteering with an organization that’s seeking to change the industry you’ll grow in. This is a time of evolution, so there are plenty of opportunities to help shape what Blacks in Advertising will be and look like going forward. Check out the roles and descriptions, and if there’s a space you think you’d fit well in, please apply!
Candace D. Queen is a Sr. Visual Designer + Art Director that divides her time between Houston and Chicago, with a vivacious entrepreneurial spirit. With that said, she wears many crowns.
Her creative focus revolves around social media, experiential design, and art curation. She’s worked with a range of brands and organizations, including Cantu Beauty, ALDI, Sprint, Miller Lite, ADCOLOR, and the 4A’s. In addition to her work, she gives back to the advertising community through her service on the AAF’s Mosaic NextGen Leadership Council as well as the AAF’s Media Image Task Force, an initiative that focuses on analyzing the depictions of African-American women in advertising & media. Additionally Candace sits on the ADCOLOR Advisory Board, serving as the co-lead for the FUTURES Planning Committee and the MAIP Alumni Association Executive Council.
Passionate about all things Trill, Chopped and Screwed, her work reflects her roots in Southeast Texas, as well as her love for exploring new technology and hacking culture codes. Learn more about Candace here.