JWU’s Edzer Roukema Competes at Pixels of Fury NYC 2019

Edzer Roukema’s super villain — Max Heat: No More Mr. Spice Guy.

When you’re a graphic designer working in New York City, anything can happen. Just last week Edzer Roukema ’15 faced-off against 5 other designers at the annual Pixels of Fury competition. During the live event, 6 contestants sat at their computers for only 20 minutes as hundreds of their adoring fans cheered them on while they worked furiously to beat the clock. Their challenge? Creating the biggest villain Hollywood has ever seen.

“This was awesome, I can’t believe my friend Andrew nominated me,” says Roukema, referring to fellow JWU graduate and friend Andrew Calipa ’13.

“They gave us the challenge a few days ahead of time so we had time to practice and work on our timing,” says Roukema. “This competition is on the clock, once you get up there, you kind of go into shock because people are so loud and they’re just blasting music, I can’t even describe the feeling. I immediately froze, but about 5 minutes in, I just kind of got into the groove of things and started to get into my own workflow.”

Edzer Roukema

"I can’t even describe the feeling. I immediately froze."

Contestants have three rounds to show off their design skills by using photo assets available from Shutterstock, the contest’s sponsor. Designs have to fit into a preselected theme and for this year’s competition designers were given 3 keywords for inspiration: New Yorker, Spicy and Beastly.

View of the stage during Pixels of Fury.

Designers are at the complete mercy of audience members, who choose a winner in real-time after each of the first two rounds. Then, those two finalists compete for the championship during the third round, with the audience once again having the final say as to who takes home the trophy.

“It was really funny, because it was basically this huge popularity contest. Everyone just gathers in this crowded space, and you have your friends and coworkers show up to support you. I had my family there and a bunch of people from my agency, and they were all holding cardboard cutouts of my head — it was really fun,” he adds.

"They were all holding cardboard cutouts of my head."

For Roukema, who works as an art director at Ralph and Co., the experience was life-changing. And although he didn’t win he says, it was great to be nominated. “Being up there was great. I got to put my company on display at this huge platform and represent them regardless of the outcome. It’s great that they put on such a huge competition for designers.”

Pixels of Fury always draws a big crowd.