DC Comics/NBC Designer: Career Advice

Designer Robin James Ramos has done it all, he tells JWU's School of Technology students.

If you’ve seen a Sunday Night Football, Jimmy Fallon, Jay Leno or CNBC web or print promo, you’ve seen his work. And for the former DC Comics senior designer and NBC Universal senior art director, one thing remains constant.

“In this business, things aren’t going to come to you. You have to put yourself out there,” he says. “You have to want to be here.”

Designer Robin James Ramos speaks at JWU's school of Technology

Making a Design Career Happen
Ramos always wanted a design career. As a kid, he panicked during a math test. “I gave up after three questions,” he recalls.

So he turned the test over, and drew his entire class on the back. Of course, he failed the test. His teacher told him, “This will get you nowhere!” 

Challenged, Ramos pushed himself to create the best, most unique designs. That’s what will set you apart, he says. “I love telling visual tales,” says Ramos. “You can make anything just ‘pretty.’ But to come up with something that tells a story? That’s awesome.”

Real Life Design Examples
Look at last year's District 9’s website and campaign or the hit Toyota Sienna’s Swagger Wagon ad, he says. “You remember them.”

“Good design is timeless,” he points out, showing a mix of his own work, new web ads and classic design, from Chermayeff & Geismar’s NBC logo to Massimo Vignelli, Paul Rand and Saul Bass’ work on “Catch Me if You Can.”

“When you’re a commercial artist, it’s very, very tough. You have three hours to design something, and it has to be good,” he says. “But it’s something wonderful to see your work out there on the street.”

Scholarship winner Josh Gabriel '13 thanks Ramos

Inspiring a Scholarship Winner
"His examples are great,” says Josh Gabriel ’13. “It means a lot to get real life information from Robin, from someone in the field.”

Josh, an Engineering Design & Configuration Management major, is the winner of Ramos’ Distinguished Visiting Professor Scholarship.

Josh knows about pushing yourself. He’s doing an intensive computerized drafting internship at Brown University. “Like Ramos said, you have to go one step above everyone else.”

For Josh, winning the scholarship means one thing: “I feel like I can do what I’ve been doing, but better.”

Technology Students: The Future of Design
“We’re in a new revolution — digital media,” Ramos says. “So you have to have a good basis in technology, so you can do something with your work, and put it out there.”

Use Facebook, blogs and websites to showcase your designs. “It’s free venues for you guys! Make your brand shine.”

“Look at Craig Kanarick and Jeff Dachis from Razorfish,” Ramos adds. They started their interactive agency from their apartment; it sold last year for $530 million.

“How many of you here are going to do what they did? Because I guarantee you, it’s going to happen.”