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Linda Mah
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KPS Graduates in Action

Three Artists Design Unique Careers

Raul Ortiz, Abi Ramos, and Rogelio “Roy” Almaguer visited Loy Norrix art teacher Cindy VanLieu’s class last spring to give students insight into their unique career paths that allow them to use the artistic skills they honed at Norrix.

All three recalled how VanLieu encouraged them and how the art class was a place for them to hang out in high school. While other students might have been getting into trouble, they were getting into art.

After graduating from Loy Norrix (Almaguer in 2012 and Ortiz and Ramos in 2013), they all attended Kendall College of Art and Design.

Ortiz earned a degree in industrial and graphic design and snagged an internship with the golf division of Puma after graduation. He now works full time in Boston with the design team for the running and training division of Puma.

“The design process is very subjective. It’s all about your perspective,” he told students. “What looks crazy to one person, looks like high fashion to another, and looks like it came from Goodwill to a third, he said.

Illustrators and graphic designers like himself work closely with exercise researchers and engineers when designing shoes. A shoe won’t sell if it doesn’t benefit the athlete, but the artistic process helps the buyers connect emotionally with the product.

When designing, “You want to show off or flex a little bit,” said Ortiz, who especially enjoys the “culture” of athletic shoe design. For him, it allows him to combine his love of art and sports.

Like Ortiz, Ramos’ industrial design skills took him into the world of athletic shoe design. He entered a design competition for New Balance, which attracted 1,200 applicants — from which three or four artists were hired to work for the company.

But along the way, he’s also worked on everything from snowboards to coffeemakers, and at each step he was called upon to develop products with engineers.

“It’s all about the process,” Ramos said. “There’s never a moment when you’re not in the process.”

He told students, “Stay humble and work hard. You can’t cut around that. I’m still trying to reach higher goals.”

Almaguer’s career has taken several unique turns. After earning his bachelor’s degree from Kendall, he built a career in Kalamazoo. He’s known for creating a clothing line, painting murals and running his own tattoo studio. He painted the 15- foot long mural inside Los Amigos restaurant on Gull Road. He owns Manifold Art Studio in the Park Trades Center.

Becoming a tattoo artist was something Almaguer had long thought about doing, but he always knew that he was not going to be a typical tattoo artist. He went to Kendall with an eye toward developing his artistic skills to create the most detailed and beautifully drawn body art.

“It has to be good art work for me,” he said. “If it’s not good art, I’m not going to put it on someone’s skin.”

Almaguer said he came from modest means like many of the students in the class, but that never kept him from having dreams and going after those goals.

“I came from a family that didn’t have anything. No one in my family went to college,” he said. “Now, I have four employees. I never thought I’d have anyone working for me.”

Ramos said that he and Ortiz didn’t have other artists to look up to when they began to work in shoe design. “There was no one who told us this is what you can do. Other kids in college did have that support. They were told you can be whatever you want. Growing up like we did, college and becoming artists seemed like a far-away dream.”

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