Diversity Avatar icons project
A product born of passion and friendship.
History of Diversity
Diversity Avatars is not just another product whose sole purpose is to make money. The collection grew out of an improbable friendship and a series of conversations between Ramy Wafaa of Round Icons and Scott Lewis of VectorIcons.net.
Original Avatar icons design by Scott Lewis – Nov. 2016
How it all started
Ramy and Scott met in 2016 through Iconfinder.com, where Scott was a Sr. Developer and Supply-side Manager and Ramy sells his icons. Over the course of several months, Scott and Ramy began talking about their views on world events. The conversations were centered around the designers’ mutual concern over the divisions in the world over religion, nationality, race, sexual identity, language, and so many other differences.
We wanted to work together on a project that would show the beauty of peoples’ diversity while showing peoples’ similarities in a compassionate way. Through many conversations, we learned that even though we grew up in two very different cultures, half a world apart, we had far more in common than we had in differences.
Ramy, is Egyptian and a Coptic Christian. Scott, an American, is atheist. Ramy grew up speaking Arabic and Scott grew up speaking English. Ramy has brown skin. Scott has white skin. Despite superficial and cultural differences, we both share a love of great design, great food, travel, and music.
We have similar thoughts about kindness and compassion, how people should be allowed to live as they choose as long as they are not hurting anyone, we even like the same band – Coldplay. We both love great design, traveling the world, drinking good beer, and love our significant others.
The original idea was to work together on a project that focused on social issues and in some small way helped to make the world a better place and would allow others to do the same. Independently from their discussions, Scott created a personal avatar. Several friends requested avatars of their own and the idea started to take shape. As part of his personal project, Scott created an avatar of a woman in traditional eastern attired. Diversity Avatars was born.
The collection has grown to 200 avatars that are available for purchase, with another 800 avatars currently in production.
Development of the idea phase 1 VS phase 2 Roundicons – Feb. 2017
The design process
When one sets out to depict “diversity”, which includes every culture, ethnicity, religion, race, nationality, gender, and sexual identity no small collection will suffice. The collection would need to be several thousands of icons. This is not a collection that one or two people can create in a reasonable amount of time so it was necessary to hire several designers to create the initial “rough” illustrations, under Scott’s creative direction.
The designs started with a very simple style with minimal facial details. But as more designers were added, each designer introduced their own unique interpretation of the guidelines. Some of the new elements were rejected because they did not fit with the original idea. Other ideas, however, were a natural fit and natural progression and became part of the evolving guidelines.
After our designers created the initial rough drafts of each avatar, they are carefully reviewed and redrawn by Scott and Ramy. Every avatar in the collection will have been created by one of both of us.
Every avatar is also very meticulously aligned to the pixel grid and made as clean as possible with minimal points, tight, smooth curves, and carefully adjusted colors and strokes.
Phase 3 the devil in the details Mik Jagger avatar – July 2017
What is over the horizon?
The 3rd, and final, phase of the project is where each avatar is carefully redrawn by Scott and Ramy. Because every avatar is individually illustrated, it is a time-consuming process, but we will keep you posted. Our goal is to release a new volume of 100 avatars every 2-4 weeks until we reach 1,000 avatars.
After the release of all 1,000 filled outline avatars, we will create flat and glyph versions as well for a total of approximately 3,000 individual avatars.
The glyph avatars will have fewer details since there will be no high lights or shadows in the face. The challenge will be to communicate the personality and identity of each avatar with fewer details.
We are also exploring the addition of mini avatars at 24px.
The next phase after the initial release will be making the avatars available in all races and ethnicities so from each avatar there will be the Asian, African, Caucasian, Middle Eastern male and female.