DESIGN DIRECTOR, MATTER UNLIMITED, NEW YORK NY
Frank William Miller, Jr. has more than 15 years of design and art direction experience in both corporate and entertainment sectors. He currently serves as the Design Director for social impact consultancy Matter Unlimited where he helps purpose-led organizations bring their visual identities to life. Prior to joining Matter Unlimited, Frank held design-focused leadership roles at Complex Magazine, HOT 97, and Rockstar Games.
Matter Unlimited is a social impact consultancy rooted in culture, capital, and cause. They are an award-winning team of creatives, changemakers, storytellers, and strategists who work with brave organizations to create a more equitable and sustainable world.
Tell us how and why you became involved in socially responsible communications, any thoughts on why design can be an especially effective tool for this goal, and, if you wish, give us an example of a project of which you are proud.
I gravitated toward this work in particular after years of designing for entertainment and products that I felt did little for people at large beyond the sugar rush of consumption for consumption’s sake. While working squarely in entertainment and consumer products can be a great playground to discover and develop skills within, it ultimately felt unfulfilling after a decade and change.
Every day feels more crucial and important than the last, whether that’s a byproduct of bare maturity or gaining a deeper and clearer understanding of all the competing, conflicting systems at play that keep this world from being the equitable utopia many of us claim to want for ourselves and one another. I felt the need to make more intentional choices on where I want my efforts and energy to be applied and spent.
Graphic design has been both a method of catharsis for me as well as an avenue to problem solve. In my personal work it’s been a way to blow off steam or crack a niche joke or communicate how disorienting the political and social climate has felt nationally and internationally alike the last decade or so.
Professionally, it’s been a way to help clients and partners better articulate their mission and voice, whether that’s been brand ID projects for partners such as Capital B News, a Black-led, nonprofit local and national news organization dedicated to Black communities across the country attempting to combat increased targeted misinformation experienced in the last half dozen years with deep, truthful reporting, or a web experience for Merck For Mothers celebrating their 10 years of experience, accomplishments and ongoing efforts to reduce maternal mortality for at risk communities domestically and abroad — finding the most engaging way to connect with potential readers, visitors, marginalized and at risk populations, and more by sometimes making existing brand guidelines and guardrails sing a little sweeter or by creating a completely new visual architecture from the pebbles up for an emerging brand to connect through. It’s all deeply thoughtful and fulfilling work to be a part of, and I’m thankful each day I get to work on projects and issues that mean so much to me personally with such a dedicated and thoughtful team like the one I’ve found in Matter Unlimited.
Given the confluence of events and challenges our society now faces, does this moment in time present any special opportunities, urgencies, obstacles to designing for good.
If we define designing for good as “designing to lessen and dutifully eradicate inequality and inequity in our society” and “inequalities and inequities experienced by society’s most marginalized and socially and politically powerless,” then the opportunity has always existed.
The opportunity and urgency is always there, we only need to answer the call and not become the obstacle ourselves. Whether that’s designing websites and mobile applications with an accessibility mindset first, or fashioning better protections to the right to vote or bodily autonomy, or ensuring better access to healthcare to disproportionately affected communities during a pandemic. The choice is always there: the path of least resistance or the path that actually creates good.