By Shannon Grossman ’16
George Ramirez ’98, M’14 enrolled as an undergraduate at Westfield State in 1994, entering the Urban Education program and majoring in art. Before working at the University as a designer over a decade later, Ramirez spent time in New York and India. He taught Vedic Philosophy and Hatha Yoga at the Ashrams and worked on their design and branding. “It was a point in my life where I sought out direction and focus in my own development, as I consider myself a constant and malleable sculpture that will never be completed,” Ramirez says.
While in India for the summer of 2009, Ramirez trained with master Swamis and became a certified instructor. He recalls this trip as a “hiatus from the design world.” While in India, he found that he “needed more work as a creative individual.” He renounced his worldly possessions and moved into the Ashram in New York City within the same year.
Ramirez began teaching as an adjunct professor in 2015, and that path led to his current position as the assistant professor of graphic design and animation for the Art Department. As a professor, Ramirez teaches courses from graphic design and animation to video animation and senior thesis. Beyond the classroom, Ramirez co-advises the Graphic Design Club and is an advisor for student independent focused projects.
“There is a sense of strength to my character born out of chaos but ultimately developed into compassion and patience for myself and others,” Ramirez says. “I enjoy teaching because I use what the monks and my life experience taught me.”
He presses his students to speak up, wanting them to learn to advocate for themselves. “I feed their egos, creativity, hunger to improve, but most of all I listen to them,” he says. He encourages them to defend their projects, even against his suggestions when they don’t agree.
Ramirez continues to try new methods in his classes to wake up his students’ potential. “I love the results and melt when I see a student evolve into a strong designer,” he says. He desires to pull his students’ most authentic
Putting on a good online face
Art Professor George Ramirez has an active online engagement with students and alumni, on various social media platforms. He embraces this world that drives his students. He cultivates relationships to encourage desire, passion, strength, and evolution in the art community and beyond.
Ramirez has a goal to help his students build their portfolios and ready them for the rigorous design field. Aware of his students’ strong interactions on social media, he began—at first as an experiment—to merge his online presence with theirs. Now, Ramirez connects online through Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, DeviantArt, and Behance, as the major platforms.
He helps students understand how to represent themselves to the public with their visual, online presence. Ramirez says, “I use the platforms to share new trends, start conversations, update them on assignment changes or remind them about deadlines, and encourage them to share their own explorations for public consumption.”
Using social media to create a sense of detachment, he enables students to accept criticism more freely. “I’m tagged on so many random sketches and explorations from current students and alumni. I critique websites, résumés, photography, or share new jobs that are forwarded to my attention. My social media pages become a constant stream of interaction.”