Melisa Tekin

Neighbors Studio, Founder of design practice Neighbors Studio

Melisa Tekin

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.


Neighbors is a graphic design studio run by Melisa Tekin, who is the founder and designer. Melisa holds a BA in Urban Economics and Marketing, and a BFA in Graphic Design. Neighbors works with nonprofits and corporate clients to help them build and maintain a compelling visual identity for their projects and brands.

In 2019, Melisa was named a Public Access Design Fellow with the Center for Urban Pedagogy. She spent the year working with a small cohort of fellows to design projects that use design to make complex urban issues accessible to the New Yorkers most affected by them.