Emory Douglas – Graphic Artist, Printmaker

Emory Douglas PicStitch

Emory Douglas was an art student at City College in San Francisco, CA when he decided to join the Black Panther Party. He traveled frequently from San Francisco to Oakland to spend time with the organization’s founders, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. One visit, Seale was designing the cover for the first issue of the party’s newspaper, The Black Panther, and Douglas offered to assist. That moment led to Douglas’ role as the Art Director for the paper and the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party, a position he served from 1967 to the 1980s.

Douglas’ work is easily recognizable – his bold lines, fearless imagery, and use of text jumps off the page. His intent was to create clear, powerful imagery that could communicate effectively to the paper’s audience, many of them being poor and illiterate. Every design was a visual representation of the revolution – the injustices, the solidarity, the anger, the fight, the blood, and the power. The Black Panther reached thousands of readers.

Huey P. Newton would have been 73 years old today. A charismatic and intelligent leader, Newton’s passion to eradicate the injustices experienced by black and brown people is still inspiring. For creatives, Douglas’ artwork is just as powerful. He illustrated a entire movement with intent and style. He still creates, although independently, and his work continues to discuss political and social injustices such as the HIV/AIDs epidemic, prison-industrial complex, and crime within the black community. See what Douglas’ is doing now at his website, http://emorydouglasart.com/.

{all power to the people}


Local Hero: Samella Lewis

KCET and Union Bank created a segment called “Local Heroes” for Black History Month in 2012. Dr. Samella Lewis was one of their heroes.

I love seeing videos like this about artists!

Dr. Samella Lewis – Painter, Printmaker, Art Historian

(l to r) 1. Dr. Samella Lewis; 2. I See You, linocut print, 2005; 3. Field, linocut print, 1968; 4. Interior, hand colored lithograph, 1997; 5. Field Hand (Girl), acrylic on paper, 1949; 6. book cover, Samella Lewis and the African American Experience, 2012; 7. Double Vision, pen and ink on paper, 1960

Happy New Year! May this new cycle provide you with everything you need and deserve! 

I couldn’t think of a more fitting artist to feature today than Dr. Samella Lewis. Lewis is one of my major inspirations simply because she has dedicated her life to creating and preserving black art. She has completed five films and seven books about the African American artistic experience. Furthermore, she founded the International Review of African American Art  in 1975 and the Museum of African American Arts in 1976. The publication and museum are still active.

Lewis’ own body of art work is substantial. Working primarily as a printmaker and painter, her work is poignant, colorful and at times solemn. Her figures all possess an introspective gaze that pulls the viewer deeper into the piece. And those lines!!! Lewis’ lines sweep across the canvas, building up texture. The style of her work has varied throughout the years but the way she captures the human figure is unique. 

She is a master teacher and her accomplishments are nothing short of legendary. There is a fantastic book about her called, Samella Lewis and the African American Experience. I recommend this book to anyone interested in more information about Lewis and her lust-worthy art collection. 

With Dr. Lewis’s work in mind, let’s make this new year creative, fun, and above all {DOPE}! Happy New Year!