Meet Our THRIVE Speakers: Nick Ramos

On February 23, AIGA Raleigh is hosting our first conference, THRIVE, a one-day supercharged creative conference that will inspire the creative leaders of today and tomorrow with a powerhouse of speakers. We have assembled a line-up of speakers from all over the United States to change the way you think about yourself, where you live, and the impact you can have on both.

To introduce you to our speakers, we asked them to answer a few questions. Meet Nick Ramos, an award-winning graphic artist who creates professional logos and print material by day, and who turns his doodles into sought-after artwork in his free time. Originally from Brazil, Nick moved to the United States when he was a child. He attended Boston’s Massachusetts College of Art. He left in 1991, by which time he was already the Art Director at the Delamarter Advertising Agency in Concord, MA. In 1992, he started freelancing as a graphic designer, which was the very beginning of Graphismo.

Q1: Please describe an experience you’ve had in your life that’s led you to feel more empowered as a creative.

When I was younger, I often questioned my talent and creativity. Since I was little, I have always doodled my thoughts and illustrated letters to friends and family. I would say that I was pretty creative. As with age, like most people, I started censoring myself and being a lot more concerned about the final result. I stopped sharing the drawings and didn’t have as much time to create those elaborate letters. I guess that technology also played a role in my writing fewer letters. Interestingly, it was also technology that led me back into sharing my personal illustrations and words again. Last year, I started sharing my random thoughts on Instagram. I draw one every day, but I don’t always post it. Instead, I try to not censor myself and just have fun with it. It’s not only great therapy, but the playfulness of it does fuel my creativity. It’s even better when someone connects with the art or if it makes them smile.

Q2: As creatives, the work we do has an impact on those around us (viewers, users, the environment, etc). What is something you do to ensure that the impact you’re making is positive?

I think that the choice of the word “impact” is interesting. It can be perceived as a somewhat violent word. Whenever curating an exhibit, I often want to have community participation, so I try to find common ground and go from there. Please don’t take me wrong, I want to push the boundaries whenever it’s appropriate, but I find if I start the dialogue with something that the viewer is comfortable with and get them engaged, then I can present them with ideas or visuals that might be more challenging. I don’t believe in dumbing down my projects, but try to treat my viewers with respect. When working on ‘Build Hope, Not Walls,” the topic of a border wall could have been very polarizing, but we focused on laying the foundation of the project with a beautiful statement about humanity. Yes, the topic was political, but we made it personal.

Q3: We have a strong sense of community in our chapter and beyond. How has being an active part of a community provided you with an opportunity you wouldn’t have had otherwise?

Saying yes to things can be a blessing and a curse. I think that most designers can identify with being asked to do things for free and to donate their time for a cause or the community.

Back in 2008, I was recruited to be on the board of a local non-profit arts organizations called Georgetown Art Works. I knew that I had been asked because I am a graphic designer, and they could use some help in that area. The organization had a lofty goal of bringing an art center to our community, in an effort to create a dialogue with the community through their exhibits and program. They started with the “Art Hop,” an annual statewide arts competition. In 2009, the City of Georgetown decided that they wanted to have all of the street pole banners in downtown feature different artists. 54 artists altogether. Well, it was a huge task, not only because the community was concerned about the content of the banners, but because we had to recruit artists, as well as provide the printers with the appropriate art files. Having the knowledge of how to accomplish this, I was put in charge of the project. It was a big success at the end, but the city had put a lot of limitations, which added a lot of work to the project. In 2011, two years later, I was approached about spearheading the project again, and I was not really interested. The city kept on insisting, and I finally gave in, but with a larger budget and the agreement that I could do whatever I wanted, chiefly, to extend invitations to artists across the country. Artists from across the USA, Brazil, and Peru took part in the 2011 edition of the project. It was awesome.

Fast forward to 2013, working with the City of Georgetown, Georgetown Art Works finally opened the Georgetown Art Center in a restored firehouse. We had finally accomplished our goal. The board decided that since I knew all of these artists,  I would oversee the Exhibits Committee. Eventually, I was given the title of curator. For a 100% volunteer-based organization, we had very lofty goals of being open extensive hours and to reach 24K visitors in our first year. If you are not aware, Contemporary Art is not the easiest sell in a small Central Texas town. We wanted to push the boundaries with themes like “Tomfoolery: Humor in Art,” and “Artists Perception of the American Dream,” but also find some common ground with exhibits like “Art Quilts,” “Botanicals” and so on. Over many years, I oversaw dozens of exhibits and worked with hundreds of artists, which was both exhausting and thrilling at the same time. After 8 years of volunteering, I finally stepped down from my role in 2016.

Over those years, I learned so much about myself. Not only did I have the talent to hang beautiful exhibits, which really is like doing a page layout on a vertical wall, but I also had this passion for art that I was not really aware of. I guess that I should say that creativity fascinates me, the why and how people create things, whether a painting or a sculpture. The ability to have endless conversations about art and to educate the community along the way was very fulfilling.  I had to step down because volunteering was consuming my life; it had become a full-time job on top of my graphic design work. It was an amazing experience.

Follow Nick
Instagram:@graphismo or @buildhopenotwalls
Facebook as Nick Ramos and Graphismo
business website

By Amy Lyons
Published February 15, 2018