Palmdale artist up for NAACP Image Award

Palmdale artist Juan Roberts was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for his cover art on "Too Important to Fail: Saving America’s Boys." Roberts used local youngsters as models for the book art.

PALMDALE – Local creative artist, Juan Roberts, has been nominated for a 2012 NAACP Image Award under the category of Outstanding Literary Work – Instructional.

Roberts was nominated for his work as the cover designer of the book Too Important to Fail: Saving America’s Boys,” which was authored by Tavis Smiley.

Juan Roberts

“This was completely unexpected because this was a quick project I did over a weekend,” Roberts said Monday. “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 said he went to work quickly on the last minute project. He contacted a Lancaster pastor to use a 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.

By Monday (less than five days after being contacted), Roberts turned in his draft for the cover, featuring 13-year-old Lancaster resident, Gabriel. He said the cover art has almost no retouches.

“What you see is actually him,” Roberts said. “I’m sure it puts a different gloss on his [Gabriel’s] perception of himself.”

Roberts was previously nominated for his cover art on "Living and Loving Out Loud" by Cornell West.

This is the second time Roberts has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award. The Palmdale resident was first nominated in 2010 for his cover art on “Living and Loving Out Loud,” a book authored by Cornell West.

Roberts is relatively new to the book publishing world, having spent 25 years in advertising creating works for Fortune 100 corporations like General Mills, Domino’s and American Airlines. He says he draws on his experience in advertising to create and design covers with a commercial tone that taps into the psychographics of selling in a contemporary marketplace.

Roberts owns the local boutique agency, Creative Lunacy, and is hoping to take on more creative projects, locally.

“I’m focusing on photography,” he says. “A lot of it can be applied here.”

Roberts already has a fan in Antelope Valley NAACP President Juan Blanco.

“Juan is an extraordinarily talented individual… he is incredibly ingenious when it comes to creating graphic design,” Blanco said. “I am proud and pleased that brother Juan Roberts has been nominated for an Image Award.”

The 43rd NAACP Image Awards will be presented at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 17 on NBC. The multi-cultural awards show celebrates outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts (television, recording, literature, motion picture and writing & directing), as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice through creative endeavors. View a complete list of nominees and honorees here.

Other book cover designs by Palmdale resident Juan Roberts:

  6 comments for “Palmdale artist up for NAACP Image Award

  1. Sonia Jackson Myles
    February 17, 2012 at 1:47 pm


    Congratulations!! Your creative lunacy is amazing!! I’m honored to have had the opportunity to work with you on my book project. You are such a blessed and brilliant talent.

    Continued success & blessings to you,


  2. February 16, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Kudos Juan! Your light continues to shine the BRIGHTEST!

  3. February 16, 2012 at 8:29 am

    I’m elated for Juan and so proud to be among his “who’s who” of book cover clients!

  4. February 15, 2012 at 12:29 am


    • Juan
      February 15, 2012 at 6:14 am

      Thank you Willa!

    • Joy
      February 15, 2012 at 6:49 am

      ****CONGRATZ**** thank you for sharing your gifts with the world..continue to shine my brotha and keep on ….keepin on!!

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