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Design for difference

Paul Adams is pictured. He is standing in the atrium of the Black Cultural Centre in Cherry Brook, Nova Scotia.
Paul Adams is a two-time NSCC grad and the talented designer behind Nova Scotia’s annual African Heritage Month posters.

Paul Adams, two-time NSCC grad, accomplished photographer and skilled graphic designer, says it’s a privilege to create Nova Scotia’s annual African Heritage Month posters.

“I hope when people see it, they feel proud,” Paul says of the 2024 design, which acknowledges the spirit of perseverance that people of African Descent have demonstrated over centuries in Nova Scotia. “I hope it resonates with them; I hope it sparks conversations that educate as well as brings joy and makes them smile. Art that evokes emotions and stories.”

The Cole Harbour native began designing the official posters in 2015 following a co-op placement though the Graphic Design Diploma program at Ivany Campus. After completing the Applied Communication Arts Certificate several years prior, Paul hoped the additional credential would strengthen his photo editing abilities, which were essential to his family’s business.

A poster with the headline our smiles, our joy, our resilience with a photo of a child smiling.
The 2024 African Heritage Month poster designed by Paul Adams.

“My dad started Adams Photography back in 1998,” says Paul of his family’s business, which specializes in school and corporate photography. “I don’t really know my official title, but I wear a lot of hats. I handle the majority of the creative side of things.”

As is the case with nearly all NSCC programs, Paul was required to complete a work placement where he could put his new skills into practice. After completing the in-class elements of his diploma program, he then joined the team at the Black Cultural Centre in Cherry Brook, Nova Scotia, and was tasked with refreshing their logo.

His natural design abilities and creative eye immediately caught the eye of the African Heritage Month Information Network (AHMIN), the organization behind Nova Scotia’s African Heritage Month activities. They inquired whether he’d be up for taking on the meaningful project.

“I was honoured, excited and nervous to be asked,” says Paul. “It represents so much and gets circulated everywhere. I take great pride in it and try to always produce the best work possible.”

Real unity and equity

Since 2015, Paul has designed posters for themes including Passing the Torch, the Ties that Bind, Black History Matters, the Legacy of Commitment, Through our Eyes and this year’s Seas of Struggle.

“I come up with the designs once I get the theme from AHMIN,” says Paul. “There’s lots of layers to our history that people from our communities — and outside our communities — can learn. I’m designing something that represents us. Something that tells our stories. Something to make my community proud.”

The Province of Nova Scotia has more than 50 historic African Nova Scotian communities with a long and complex history dating back over 200 years. Paul agrees that while African Heritage Month represents an opportunity to celebrate the culture, legacy, achievements and contributions of people of African descent, he says it’s important to remember that these celebrations shouldn’t be limited to one month.

“It’s nice to have African Nova Scotian history and heritage represented and appreciated,” he explains. “But for real unity and equity, we need to acknowledge each other throughout the year. For no specific reason other than to spread love and appreciation to one another.”

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