Local teen wins national competition with Target

Winston-Salem native Trajan Baker was one of three winners of the 2021 Target HBCU Design Challenge.

Local teen wins national competition with Target
January 27
10:38 2022

Last year, Target launched their HBCU Design Challenge which was a competition where students from Historically Black Colleges & Universities submitted designs for Target’s celebration of Black History Month. One of the challenge winners was Winston-Salem’s own Trajan Baker, who is an architecture student at Hampton University and a graduate of Atkins High School.

The challenge was open to all HBCU students to submit a design for Target. There were three winners out of 10 finalists. Being one of the chosen three, Baker was thrilled to hear the news.

“I can still remember it because I was getting a haircut,” Baker said of where he was when he found out he was one of the winners. “I was literally in the barber’s chair and I got the email from Target. I had been anticipating it because they told us they would be in contact in June.

“As soon as I got that email, I read through it and I immediately sent it in the group chat I have with my family members and they were all very excited. So, it was kind of a surreal moment, just kind of thinking like a couple months from now my design is going to be nationwide. And even now the way I had anticipated this moment, it feels so much bigger and I am thankful for this opportunity.”

Baker found out about the challenge through one of his architecture classes. The teacher made the challenge as an assignment for the class as a grade. Some took it as just another assignment, while Baker saw a bigger opportunity.

“I am super competitive, so I immediately put some real effort into the thought behind it,” said Baker.  

On the Target website, they provided all participants with two prompts to choose from. Baker chose the one that asked the artist to create something that shows pride for being Black and Black History Month.

“I really wanted to create something that expressed the prosperity of Black people and the amazing things that we are capable of and have been through,” he said. “So, I kind of just sketched things conceptually and I actually did go through a bunch of different versions of the design before I narrowed it down to what’s on the hoodie today.

“I think I did always have that concept of the roots, the tree and the Black power fist. Those were my basic elements that I kind of knew I wanted to work with from the start and then it was all about applying different textures and colors and things of that nature.”

Baker has a very meticulous design process where he thoroughly thinks through his designs and does mockups before actually putting anything on canvas.

“I have worked through the majority of the design decisions and possibilities beforehand, so I know whatever I put on that piece of clothing or canvas, that’s what I think is the best version. I feel like as a creative, in general you always feel like there is something extra you can do with your piece.”

After submitting his design, Baker had a good feeling that he had a shot at winning. With the unique concept of his design, he felt that would stand out among the many other submissions.

“After I came up with my concept and I started to really think this is a really good concept that has meaning behind it and something I can resonate with, I think that’s when I started having more confidence that my design would do well,” he said.  

Following his selection in the top 10 designs, Baker had the opportunity to meet with Target designers and have them critique it before the final submission. Those designers helped add a few elements to Baker’s original design to make it a winner.

For his efforts, Baker received $3,000 in prize money, an Apple MacBook Pro, Snapchat augmented-reality goggles, and a design course. He doesn’t have anything contractual with Target as of yet, but he is hopeful there will be a partnership down the line.

One would assume that winning a competition such as this would give someone added confidence and for Baker, that’s exactly what it did.

“It’s definitely given me a sense of pride as an artist, having the ability to have my work shared,” he said. “It feels very humbling as an artist and it’s definitely given me a boost of confidence in my abilities and the response and the support that I have gotten is such a humbling experience.”

Baker says his family is very supportive of his winning the competition. They send him daily messages about how others are excited about his opportunity after hearing the news. The local news stations, alumni from Hampton University, and his friends have also been very supportive as well.

COVRT Artist is Baker’s personal business where he customizes clothing for people. He says the partnership with Target has given his brand a boost over the last few months.

“I want my clients to be involved in the process,” he said about his brand. “I want them to give me an idea for a creation that means something to them and when they wear that, they’re expressing that idea, that creator within themselves, so that’s why I call it COVRT Artist.”


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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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