Creative artist and Milwaukee native, Juan Roberts, was nominated for a 2012 NAACP Image Award under the category of Outstanding Literary Work – Instructional. He was nominated for his work as the cover designer of the book “Too Important to Fail: Saving America’s Boys,” authored by Tavis Smiley.
“This was completely unexpected because this was a quick project I did over a weekend,” Roberts said. “Tavis was doing his PBS special and he wanted to do a companion book for it, and the manuscript wasn’t even done yet when I got a call on a Wednesday or Thursday.”
Roberts, who currently lives in California, said he went to work quickly on the last minute project using a California church as a casting location and backdrop for the cover shoot. He shot five boys as options for the cover, and for illustrations in the book.
“I was designing the cover as I was shooting,” Roberts said.
This is the second time Roberts has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award. The Milwaukee native was first nominated in 2010 for his cover art on “Living and Loving Out Loud,” a book authored by Cornell West.
First honing his skills at the-then Milwaukee Tech High School in the 1970s, Roberts is an inspiration. It was in an elective class that he took as a 13-year-old freshman when he realized he had the wherewithal to succeed. “It was in that class that I experienced my creative awakening,” he said.
From that point on, Roberts used his natural, God-given creativity, diligently seeking opportunities to shine. He credits various community-based organizations for giving him a platform to create. The now-defunct Inner City Arts Council was a staunch support of his craft and continually awarded him with opportunities to refine his skills. He participated in and one numerous are contests throughout his high school career.
The talented designer owns, Creative Lunacy, an advertising and graphic design agency based in California. The agency “produces content that clients not only see, but experience. No matter the format: broadcast, print, electronic, fabrication, multi-media, etc. … we love it all.”
When not working on a creative project, Roberts spends time giving back to his community by inspiring youngsters. He hopes to return to his Milwaukee roots one day and inspire a new generation of creative vessels.
“I didn’t have anyone like me when I was in school,” he said, “so if there is a way I can encourage kids, I love to.”