Maya Angelou: A Voice of Clarity, A Heart of Courage
Dr. Maya Angelou was a woman of many hats. In her life she overcame the difficulties of poverty, sexual abuse, and being a single mother to become a writer, poet, dancer, actress, civil-rights activist, singer, dancer, screenwriter, producer, and director; and she did all of them with conviction and passion. This is what makes her a Victress.
She is best known as a writer that gave a voice to African-American women who grew up in the South during the early 1900’s in her first novel I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. (hell, that alone makes anyone a Victress. God Bless You) She went on to write over 30 books of prose and poetry, including the inaugural poem for President Clinton in 1993. This not only makes her impressive but also one of the most quoted authors in the modern era. (look at tumblr, pinterest or any motivational page… they’re quoting her ALOT).
How she was able to do all of this in one lifetime I think can be explained by her attitude, reflected in a quote from her essay “Reclaiming Southern Roots”: “When I walk in, they may like me or dislike me, but everybody knows I'm here.” Angelou stepped into the opportunities presented to her without hesitation and plenty of gusto.
It’s not surprising then that Dr. Angelou became the first black cable car driver in San Francisco. Later in life, she achieved a few other firsts by becoming the first African-American women to have her screenplay produced, as well as the first African-American, woman director. She won many awards in her life, including the Medal of Freedom, and earned over 50 honorary degrees. On top of all of that, she lived abroad in Egypt and Ghana for a number of years and found time to become a polyglot, learning five other languages.
Dr. Angelou is an exemplary Victress for all the people she inspired throughout her lifetime and continues to inspire through her writings that will live on long after her. We are grateful to stand upon the shoulders of such a giant, American icon and are humbled to continue spreading her story.
About the Design:
Dr.Angelou was a larger-than-life figure and it was extremely challenging to come up with a design that would do her justice. We wanted to pay homage to her African roots and civil activism, her best-known work and her love for music, especially Blues and Jazz. We also wanted to create something that exudes as much power and conviction as she did. Not an easy feat.
The blazing sun on a horizon riffs off the original cover of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, and is set against rays with an African-inspired pattern. The typography takes it shape from old Blues and Jazz posters from the 60’s and 70’s. Last but certainly not least, the words: “Set your Eyes Higher to Set Your Heart on Fire” is our attempt at encompassing Dr. Angelous’ modus-operandi in life. Her work is riddled with examples of how faith in something much bigger than ourselves gives us courage, strength and stamps out fear. This is our rendition of her belief: “I believed that there was a God because I was told it by my grandmother and later by other adults. But when I found that I knew not only that there was God but that I was a child of God, when I understood that when I comprehended that, more than that, when I internalized that, ingested that, I became courageous.”