Black Superheroes Matter is a visual arts series I created in 2015 when I was trying to get hired in the creative industry after I retired from playing football. I was living in LA couch surfing and trying to figure out what to do with my life. I didn’t know many people in the creative industry or anyone that was Black doing what I was trying to do. During this time #BlackLivesMatter and #OscarsSoWhite were trending at the time. I was looking at the climate for diversity and inclusion and it felt like my culture was being attacked from multiple fronts. My morale was low, I had no job, or work experience, and I felt stuck with no one to look to for support and inspiration. I decided to create my own inspiration through a medium I could control and connect with rather than dwell on the lack of representation. 
Black Superheroes Matter redefines popular characters in the image of children of color. In the series we follow Roscoe, Vanessa, and the Iltopia gang as they cosplay as their favorite superheroes and cartoon characters. This series precedes the events of Eyelnd Feevr, and sets the scene for the work we will continue to create.
What was the role:
Product Design, Creative Direction, Creative Writing, Logo Design, Web Design, Branding, and Illustration.

What was the process:
The journey first started with an idea to create cute characters with vector art in Adobe Illustrator. I took a scraped project I was working on for Just 2 Nice and revamped it. I converted the bears to Black kids and redesigned all the bodies. I wanted the bodies to be cute and unaggressive like POP! Figures because I wanted to combat the idea that Black kids are inherently more aggressive than white kids. By making them cute, they become more accessible. There were studies showing that the omission of specific features makes cartoon characters more relatable. So, I decided to remove the pupils, and distinct features. The only thing I kept were wide noses, dark skin, and a pouty/full lip. When designing the characters costumes, I chose my favorite cartoon characters and envisioned them as Black Kids. 

I took a break from vector art to work in a traditional medium. I wanted to get into art galleries, so I used my collection of Copic markers to create a body of work with an Afro-centric theme. The goal was to make mashups of my favorite characters duking it out quirky ways. I was inspired by Skottie Young to combine humor and composition into an avenue to combat negative stereotypes about Black people. After completing over 108 of them, I decided to bind them into coloring books and art books to get into stores and libraries. 
This created material for me to sell in comic conventions and garner a following online. In this space, I found the value in making customers and not just money. Especially because I was selling tons of stickers for $1-$3 and only a few books. This showed me the power of representation and how I can make money off of ideas that touch people. 
What I failed to do while I was creating this was brand it. After people asking me about Black Heroes Matter Shirts, someone capitalized on the idea and beat me to it. As a result, I created Black Superheroes Matter to capture more of the market. With it I wanted to have a logo and symbol that could speak to my Pro-Black roots, but also push the culture forward. That led to the designs I settled with. The Black Power Fist, African American Flag Color Scheme, and a Black Woman Flying across. Those are the real aspects of Black culture re-imagined.  
Black Heroes Matter is a Visual arts series created by Steven Christian in response to the#BlackLivesMatter and #OscarsSoWhitemovements back in 2015. He was upset with the fact that there were very few avenues of inspiration for people of color, and even less opportunities. This led him to conclusion that children of color will be steered down a wrong path if they don't have heroes/ positive role models they can personally identify with. As a Black visual artist, Steven felt that change will come when those with the skills and desire to bring about change actually take action regardless of the consequences. From that notion, Steven set out on a journey to redefine popular character in the image of children of color. The byproduct of this decision is a beautifully illustrated 130 page book full of your favorite cartoon characters and superheroes with darker skin, wider noses, and fuller lips. The book also include testimonials and quotes from contemporary heroes of diverse backgrounds, and their take on the current state of affair in mainstream media as it pertains to inspiring people of color to transcend stereotypes and be great. 
With every purchase of the book, You will receive a sticker pack of 8 handmade stickers that you can stick to any surface and share Black Heroes with the world! By supporting this project, you are taking action to support and bring about the necessary changes that inspire people of color to be the real life heroes they see on TV. Join Steven as he CREATESopportunities that CONQUER this adversity!
You can also order the coloring book, which allows you to color your favorite illustrations from the Black Heroes Matter series with your own colors!

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