Michaile Brooks

UIC: Michaile, what is your masters topic?
Brooks: Hybridity in design: transculturalism.

Can you explain this topic further? What does it mean to you?
Transculturalism is the breakdown of boundaries. It’s rooted in the pursuit of defined shared interests and common values across cultural and national borders.

What is your current masters project  focus?
The visualization of music. As I researched my masters book, I began to wonder whether transculturalism could affect other mediums that translate into graphic design. I decided to research jazz as a musical genre because of its global influence. Jazz is very transcultural in nature, so I feel this is an appropriate topic to tie into my final thesis project. 

Why is Jazz an interesting genre?
In the Jazz age, European designers sought to capture the spirit of the music by referencing Cubism, African art, and modernism in their work. The expression of the “Jazz style” in the design of popular magazines, ads, and record album covers represented the first appearance of Black-inspired graphic design.

What advice would you give to incoming students of the program?
Rather than shy away from opportunities for collaboration, these opportunities should be embraced—they allow us to add to our visual language and learn more about ourselves as designers.

What do you hope people will take away from your masters project?
We each are different. And we should enjoy those differences and learn from each other instead of trying to blend the differences away.

Many of the terms you use— ybridity, transculturalism, marginalization, binaries speak to post-colonial practices. What contribution has transculturalism made that graphic design benefits from, or vice versa?
There is a way to design cross-culturally without losing the local references and visuals that makes a culture unique. At the same time, it’s important to avoid resorting to stereotypical tropes or making a design generic. It’s my belief that the philosophy of transculturalism could be utilized as a tool to expand our visual language and promote diversity in graphic design.