Celebrating local, emerging illustrators and creating inclusive communities for women of color; all while spreading holiday cheer to the neighborhood
The Milk District
Art Direction, Illustration
Natalie Henry-Charles, Kath Reyes, Samii Morales
I was brought on my The Milk District Executive Director, Zac Alfson, to lead the charge in assembling a team of women of color creatives from Orlando and to create a cohesive body of illustrations to be used as holiday banners around the District.
As the art director of the project, I aimed to boldly showcase The Milk District's character and empowered my team to feel pride towards their craft . Keep scrolling to learn more about our process and to see the colorful end result.
FROM PASTURE TO POWERHOUSE
Named for its proximity to the dairy company, TG Lee — established in this Orlando neighborhood 95 years ago — The Milk District is known for being a cultural hub in the city: home to a progressive, authentic community of people. When locals describe The Milk District, they may refer to its thriving small businesses, its distinct murals, hole-in-the-wall restaurants quintessential to Orlando, and the familiar faces to see in its cafés and bars.
With this in mind, we knew that our goal was to represent this special District's diverse creative culture and strong community identity.
After we discussed the creative brief, I had the team sketch several ideas separately. This phase of the project was meant for unfiltered, loose ideas and to get each illustrator to focus on their own vision before coming together as a team.
Together, we looked at everyone's sketches and talked about what was interesting to us, why we were drawn to what we liked, and which images we thought looked the most cohesive next to each other.
Given the lonely nature of the holidays in 2020, we wanted the banners to act as agents of joy. We continued to explore nostalgic holiday scenes like growing up in the neighborhood and imagining Santa fly above the skyline, or walking up to the strip of bars and shops in the District to meet up with friends and drink hot toddies in 60 degree weather.
UNCOMMON BUT FESTIVE COLORS
A nostalgic scene doesn't mean the images had to look dated. We used bright and happy colors, contemporary and atypical to your traditional holiday hues. An unexpected palette choice also symbolized the District's unique character.
A CREATIVE COMMUNITY FOR AND BY WOMEN OF COLOR
The best takeaway from this project was the small network of creatives I now consider my friends. Through continued support and mutual admiration, the four of us have created our own community of illustrators: women of color who share similar and familiar experiences, and are learning to embrace our unique perspectives.
"In many senses, the community really needed this, and I'm looking forward to continuing our group and building on our support system."
- SAMII MORALES
"These banners are much more than just banners. The banners represent the community... and on a larger scale the inclusion and progressive nature of The Milk District that I have come to love."
- NATALIE HENRY-CHARLES