Ryan Hartley Smith

Associate Professor of Illustration, Deputy Chair of BFA Design, City University of New York, Queens College


Ryan Hartley Smith

Stakeholder design meeting at the Center for Urban Pedagogy

Ethical Illustration Practices - Strategies and Models


As in many other forms of media, illustration often reflects unexamined norms, assumptions, and implicit biases we all carry into our work. This often reinforces common narratives about marginalized communities, including people of color, immigrants, people who are or have been incarcerated, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people with disabilities, among others.

This presentation will focus on addressing how illustration can be used as a tool to represent communities with agency through the working process of the NYC-based Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), a nonprofit organization that collaborates with designers, educators, advocates, students, and communities to make educational tools that demystify complex policy and planning issues.


Ryan Hartley Smith is an illustrator and educator based in New York City. Smith's work is focused on using visual storytelling to foster civic engagement and expanding historical research within the field of illustration.

Clients include the Washington Post, NYC Department of Transportation, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Honors include a Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies research fellowship, and a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators.