• Eden Spivak

Jimi Stone Designs for the Underrepresented

This article, by Eden Spivak, is brought to you by our friends at Editor X.

Jimi Stone, the founder and creative director of Rich Minority Studios, has spent much of his career amplifying the voices of the unheard. He works with artists and brands to bring their vision to life across multiple mediums, from photography and video production to graphic design.

He also recently launched Eracism, a new fashion and accessories line, which features bold, anti-racist messaging. “We represent the people who think differently and stand out from the majority,” Jimi says. “The people who aren’t afraid to move to the beat of their own drum.”

We spoke to Jimi about his influences and inspiration, but we also discussed how graphic design helps promote equality and unity.

From Street Art to Creative Direction

Jimi discovered his love of art and culture early on. His mother’s fondness for fashion and illustration, combined with his father’s passion for music, dominated much of his upbringing in Los Angeles, with art covering the walls and a steady barrage of jazz, rock, and punk wafting through the house.

He quickly immersed himself in Southern California counterculture, becoming a dedicated skateboarder and musician. He also found himself gravitating to graffiti and adopted “Stone” as his tag, fitting as he took it from the Jimi Hendrix tune "Stone Free,"—he's named after the iconic guitarist as well (James is also his father's name). Eventually, he decided to hang up his spray paint cans because of the increasingly dicey atmosphere around street art.

“The graffiti world had become dangerous due to illegal activity and tension with opposing gangs and crews,” Jimi says. “Too many bad things were happening, and I felt my life going in a dark direction. I had to reassess what was important to me, and the answer was creating—before anything else.”

He went on to study video production at OTIS and The Art Institute while simultaneously refining his graphic design and photography skills in his spare time. In 2014, he founded Rich Minority Studios with some friends from his days in the music and the street art worlds.

“I wanted to create a home for different kinds of artists, from music artists to painters and visual artists,” says Jimi. “The idea was to have a group of creatives with many different skill sets that would allow us to collaborate, where we could all work together and further each other's growth.”

Music remains a central element in Jimi’s work, and he often collaborates with musicians across various genres alongside his commercial work. “Music plays a huge role in our client choice and the rhythm of our workflow,” he says. “We do our best to make sure the imagery amplifies the message of the music instead of creating its own lane. The visuals and the music should be cohesive, complementing each other.”

Bringing Folks Together Through Design

In the spring of 2020, Jimi was in the midst of launching a garments and accessories line when a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd. The travesty inspired a change in direction for Jimi, and he decided to refocus the brand’s mission.

“It felt blasphemous to continue with the normal schedule and not speak for the community,” he says. Instead, Jimi got to work on brand new designs. While anger initially fueled the resulting collection, Jimi ended up going with a more healing message and gave it a mission-driven name: Eracism.

Jimi created several designs to convey his message of racial equity, including a clean sans-serif that reads “Human” and “We Are the Same.” He also took the words “erase” and “racism,” morphing them together into one impactful typographical visual.

Additionally, he made a camouflage pattern composed of multiple skin tones and a photo of a large, diverse group of protestors. “I was so moved by the diversity of the protests that I wanted to replicate that visual,” he says. “I wanted to make not only decor but protection, so we made a blanket that allows you to cover yourself in the values of equality.”

They turned those different designs into a line of shirts, hats, and blankets, all emblazoned with a singular, unmistakable message: Racism is a scourge that needs to be erased through unity.

True to its underlying message, Eracism’s lookbook and accompanying coffee table book is bereft of models or touched up portraits. “I had an idea of showcasing natural, realistic individuals from different backgrounds that we can all relate to, instead of perfectly groomed and experienced models,” Jimi says. He recruited a handful of friends and acquaintances to participate in the photoshoot, using skin tone-colored bed sheets as the shoot’s backdrop.

Jimi sees the Eracism collection as more than just a fashion line. He envisions it as a community-focused organization that gives back to those who need it most. “The response was great, and we were able to donate a significant amount of money to art programs in lower-income areas and small local businesses that have been affected by Covid-19,” he says.

Jimi hopes to keep giving back to the community and transforming this one-time collection into an ongoing effort.

“I didn’t want to be a part of a temporary movement, where people get over the BLM protests and continue their lives without making any long-term adjustments,” he remarks. “As an African-American creator, I experience certain things consistently that other people may only become aware of during the George Floyd protests, but none of these things are new and, unfortunately, none of these things will end tomorrow.”

A Vision Come to Life Online

The values of love, equality, and unity are deeply rooted in Jimi’s work. You can also find that same purpose in Rich Minority’s website design that he created on Editor X. The website welcomes visitors with a bold and direct mission statement, one that seeks to highlight our similarities rather than entrench our differences.

“We are human. We are the same,” the site’s homepage reads. “We are not defined by our hue. Or our gender, status, popularity, or appearance. We are not defined by the arrogance or ignorance of others. We are the same. Born equal with our own individual purposes that we must discover throughout our journeys.”

For Jimi, the agency’s site embodies everything-from the values he stands for, right down to his creative outlook. “My website gives a glimpse into our creative vision at Rich Minority,” Jimi says. “Other than the actual projects, the website itself is a look into our minds as designers from our font choices, layout, and color coordination.”

The Rich Minority website reflects Jimi Stone’s passion for marching to the beat of his own drum, as well as giving voice to the marginalized. It’s a mission he’s been pursuing his entire life, and he’s not slowing down now.

Eden Spivak is a design expert and editor at Shaping Design by Editor X. She is also a freelance illustrator, with a love for editorial and children’s illustration. Working at the intersection of text and image, she is passionate about putting visual concepts into words and dreaming up imagery to accompany written text.