Photography: Bethanie Hines

“My purpose is to use storytelling and design to create moments of positive inspiration.”

Mike Nicholls is an Oakland-based award-winning established creative director, brand strategist, visual artist and publisher using design as a tool for discovery, inspiration and community building. He has translated ideas into visionary creative solutions with over 20 years of design experience and natural talent. Mike founded Umber, a media platform highlighting creative perspectives that matter, which has been recognized by AfroTech (Blavity), PRINT Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, KQED and Communication Arts.

At Umber, Mike wore multiple hats as creative director, founder, and publisher. In the role of creative director, he shaped the platform's artistic vision, blending immersive design elements with captivating narratives. In the capacity of publisher, he carefully curated content, encompassing thought-provoking articles, visually striking art features, and insightful interviews.

Mike also partnered with such places like Red Bay Coffee, AIGA SF, de Young Museum, Heath Ceramics, Inneract Project and Bandcamp. Mike has been fortunate to speak about his publishing work at SF Design Week, Hue Design Summit, Dropbox Design, Where are the Black Designers?, State of Black Design and AIGA Midwest Design Week.


Focus: Creative strategy, consultation, branding, editorial/book design and illustration.


Say hi at thisismikenicholl [at] gmail dot com.

Read story
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KQED Arts Rightnowish
Read story
The Making of UMBER
See video
2020 Midwest Design Week
Hear Talk

When I’m not designing, I make hip-hop beats as Eastcrest.