Meet the 2021 Adé Hogue Scholarship recipient: Sakinah Bell.

This award meant a lot to me. I’ve never entered any contests before the TDC. To get recognition for something that I create means the world to me.

Sakinah Bell.

Every year, Monotype and the Type Director’s Club (TDC) award the Adé Hogue Scholarship to an outstanding US-based BIPOC student entering the design industry. This prestigious scholarship, formerly called the “Superscript Scholarship” pays tribute to Broderick “Adé” Hogue, a Chicago-based art director and letterer who was tragically killed last October at the age of 32 while cycling in Chicago’s Near North Side.

This merit-based scholarship helps pay the tuition for one BIPOC student, a rising senior, whose design work demonstrates exceptional talent, sophistication and skill in the use of modern typography. Applications for the 2022 scholarship are due March 31st.

We recently caught up with the 2021 winner, Sakinah Bell, a graphic designer studying at Mercy College in New York. We discussed how creative work has provided an outlet to improve her mental health as well as to process current events. Bell described her colorful, bold use of hand-drawn type, her senior thesis focused on metamorphosis, as well as the personal significance of winning the scholarship after overcoming some of life’s hardships.

What made you decide to study design—were you always interested in creative pursuits?
I loved to write when I was a kid. I would write fictional stories and poetry. Writing was my way of focusing my anger because I suffer from depression, so writing was cathartic for me. As technology advanced, I became more curious about how certain things were made.

How would you describe your design style?
I would say that my design style is vibrant and bold — I love to use a lot of color in my projects. I’ve become really good at using color. And I say “bold” because a lot of my projects are in-your-face with big, bold type.

How can we use design to be more inclusive? What do you think inclusivity means in branding?
The one thing that I noticed about design is that there are not a lot of people of color working in this field. When you’re learning about design, you’re learning about white men. Inclusivity means to be equal, so I feel a lot people might avoid the creative field because they feel that they might not be treated equally. Because in reality, sometimes people of color are not treated equally when it comes to certain things.

Can you share some of the real-world problems you’re particularly interested in tackling with design?
With all the violence happening right now, design has been helpful because I have an outlet to express my feelings. I try not to dwell on those events sometimes because it’s too sad.

What role do you think type can play in these kinds of projects?
A lot of things are going on in the world right now. War, racism, and pure violence. Type can play a role in these problems by bringing awareness. Type can answer some questions that people might have. Type can show the world that you are not alone.

What types of projects are you working on lately?
The main project I’ve been working on lately is my senior thesis. My senior project is about self-transformation using the butterfly as a symbol of metamorphosis. So, I’ve worked on a few different typefaces using the butterfly as inspiration.

How did you hear about the Superscript/Adé Hogue scholarship?
Bobby C. Martin gave a talk for my class in 2020 and encouraged the whole class to apply for the scholarship.

What do you think made you stand out as a winner for the scholarship?
I believe what made me stand out for the scholarship was my type process. All of my typography is hand drawn. One of the things that Bobby mentioned was that he loved seeing hand-drawn type. Another thing I think that made me stand out was my essay. I didn’t write what I thought somebody wanted to read, I wrote an essay about my life and the struggles I’ve been through that influenced where I am today.

What does the award mean to you personally?
This award meant a lot to me. To get recognition for something that I create means the world to me. I’ve never entered any contests before the TDC. I always felt that I wasn’t good enough. But winning the award over all of the applicants made me realize that I can hang with the big boys.