Romare Bearden was born in North Carolina, but grew up in Harlem where his mother led the New York office of an African-American newspaper. As a result, Bearden became familiar with the artists of the Harlem Renaissance at an early age. To support himself, Bearden worked a full-time job in the New York Department of Social Services and, until the 1960s, had to limit his creative output to the evenings and weekends. Early in his career this included writing and songwriting, as well as the fine arts. He began as a painter and later developed an interest in interested in collage and printmaking. He strove to produce innovative work that concentrated on the African-American experience. In 1963, together with Norman Lewis, he founded the Spiral Group, an organization that produced works of art in response to the civil rights movement.