The Beauty of Black Culture

Opinion and Insight 330 Add to collection
Associate designer at R/GA Ricci Bostick discusses the beauty of black culture and how it inspires her creativity
The Beauty of Black Culture

Q > Tell me about your career. How did you end up where you are today?

Ricci Bostick > R/GA is my first job out of college and I recently celebrated my one year anniversary in May. Most of my experience has come from school and living. I’m originally from Austin, Texas, and now live in New York a long way from home. 

When I was younger I wanted to be a doctor, of any kind. Either an anesthesiologist or a pediatrician. I don’t know if that was my way of making my mom happy or because I’ve always liked fixing things, but either way I was dead set on being a doctor. Ironically, in the last few months of high school, my medical terminology teacher told me her daughter was in advertising. It sparked my interest and to both my mom and I’s surprise that’s all it took to change my mind on my career choice. 

I graduated from Hampton University with a BA in Strategic Communication and from NYU with an MS in Integrated Marketing. Like many creatives, I was on a path to prove to my mom that having a career in art wouldn’t mean that I would be a broke artist. After an ungodly amount of ‘no’s’ I finally got my ‘I told you so’ moment. 

In my final year of grad school, I was accepted into the second class of the Verizon Adfellows program. As an Adfellow, I was able to rotate through Verizon, R/GA, Momentum, and Rauxa working in a variety of creative disciplines within an eight-month month span. It was a massive time commitment, handling the program, and being in grad school. Yet, I persevered and graduated from both programs in the spring of 2019, but being raised by a true black southern belle it’s ingrained in me that “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” 

In my time at R/GA, I've created for clients like Airbnb, LHNL and, the reason I’m here, Verizon. Though my career isn’t long, my journey to R/GA has been. I’ve learned a lot about my abilities through working but I learned the most about myself in the long journey here. Outside of R/GA I draw, dance, paint, creatively direct, and read. And, in true Ricci fashion, I’m taking a very big bite out of life in starting a new business because mommas are always right.

Q > What do you find exciting in your current role?

Ricci > I may be biased but being a creative is the best job. It's every kid’s dream to have their ideas created and I’d like to think my ideas are at least a little bit better than they were when I was younger. 

Within the creative disciplines, there are numerous trajectories. Talent Pool, an opportunity for creatives to try it all, allows us to touch as many of these career paths as possible. I can work on campaign work for Verizon and branding for a new pitch in the same week, sometimes even the same day. Young Ricci always had trouble picking just one of anything: Tacos or french fries… who could decide? Luckily, I haven’t had to choose between food or my career path.

Q > What sparks your creativity? How do you share that with others?

Ricci > My culture. I’m going to geek out but follow me for a second. The range in which black people work is fascinating to me. I’ve watched generations of women in my life create something out of nothing, true innovators before the word became work jargon. Instagram and other social sites have allowed me to witness my community blossom tenfold.

I get to witness other black stories of struggle and hard times become words, sculptures, fashions shows, and more with the title “new”, “original”, “first-ever” in front of it. Besides the radiance that glows off of us, the deep turmoil that we’ve faced and continue to face are always a source of inspiration and community that allows many who look like me to vocalize their feelings, be seen, and then create solutions. Our roots run deep too, so we can pull influence from Afro-Latinxs and the native African culture as well as watch how our influence shapes the mass culture, everyone consumers. It's like the circle of Black life, an endless well of inspiration and reflection.

Beyond consuming, I share. I talk to my friends inside and outside of my race to get as much exposure and give black creators the opportunity many of us don’t receive. I also buy, because it’s not enough to acknowledge, sculptors don’t pay for clay with “that’s dope af” dollars.

Q > Do you have a mentor? How have they helped you in your career development?

Ricci > I do! Mentors come in many forms so I try to have a mentor to mirror the projects I work on. I have one, who is a legend at R/GA and helped me decide if R/GA was the right first step in my career, clearly, she’s a genius. I have younger coworkers turned sister friends, who have extensive knowledge in an area that we are both interested in outside of our 9-5s. My mom...she mentors my whole future. Through each of these connections, I’ve met others who have shaped my personality or my craft. My mentors have helped me become a better mentor. Having open discussions and equal effort in each relationship allows me to be confident as I engage with mentors or as a mentor.

Q > What is your design philosophy?

Ricci > ​Bold simplicity. And, yes I made that up. With bold simplicity, the design is constantly evolving and catching your attention but not overwhelming. There is something strong about clean lines and minimal fuss. It’s digestible. 

Bold can come in many forms: colour, texture, patterns, layout. I discovered bold simplicity my senior year of college. I took what I thought was going to be an easy painting class and simultaneously decided to give up sweatsuit as my sole fashion choice. Learning colour theory and how to put on clothes can result in a few hits but many misses. In the fashion industry that’s probably a bigger issue but that’s the fun part about being creative. The lines between learning and executing are always blurred but you come out with cool stuff when you master the two. 

Q > Do you have any passion projects outside of work?

Ricci > As I said earlier, I have a new business in the works. In Spring 2019, I began the creation of my suit company, Pursuit. Pursuit is an online retailer creating genderless and body-positive professional and leisure suits. With a background almost opposing fashion in my earlier years, it’s funny how things work out. Like many small businesses, the state of 2020 has set my plans back a bit. However, Pursuit will be live and ready for purchase no later than Spring 2021, circumstances permitting. 

Outside of starting my business I’m relearning the piano and my girlfriend and coworker are teaching me to DJ!


- Ricci Bostick, associate designer at R/GA

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