Jeremy rosario portrait

The summer before he arrived at Columbus College of Art & Design, Jeremy Rosario (Advertising & Graphic Design, 2000) worked to save the money for his airfare from Puerto Rico. The portfolio he’d created in his arts-focused high school had won him a spot at CCAD, and he was ready to live his dream of a life in art. Why let a little thing like the fact he couldn't speak English stop him?

Fast-forward 20 or so years, and Rosario has planted roots in Columbus. He’s still painting on canvases and creates art daily (you can see some of that work on his Instagram) — and he’s vice president and design director at GSW Worldwide, an advertising agency where creatives translate the complicated world of cutting-edge drugs and treatments to doctors and patients.

His CCAD education informs his work — he uses strategic design, illustration, photography, color theory just about every day — and his life. “It really gave me a foundation. There was a hard-work ethic,” he said.

So how did Rosario overcome his language barrier? He spent hours his freshman year translating assignments with a dictionary. He leaned on a couple of upperclassmen who’d also attended his high school. And he excelled in class using the universal language of visual communications and art. After about six months, he had a better grasp of English. But he’s never forgotten the experience. Now, he volunteers at a health clinic in Columbus as a translator, helping patients convey their ailments and worries to doctors. He also sits on the Board of Directors for Grace Clinics of Ohio as the Corporate Director of Communications.

Rosario started at CCAD in 1992; he began his career with an internship at Hallmark, which became a job (and temporarily paused his academic career). From there, he moved into design and advertising, returned to Columbus to complete his CCAD degree, and has been at GSW for about a decade. He has done retail design work for big-name companies including Disney, BMW, Pepsi, Bob Evans, and Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Plus, he has helped brand and launch a number of pharmaceutical products and devices and worked with clients including Eli Lilly and P&G, in addition to teaching graphic design at Ohio Wesleyan University.

“I’m on a team that focuses on diabetes medications” at GSW, he said. “Everything is grounded in human insights. You have to dig deep and find unique ways to make a compelling message as well as a unique visualization. These challenges really fuel my creativity.”

Home is a haven for creativity, too. Rosario and his wife Debra (Illustration, 1994) have four children — and chickens, cats, and a rabbit. Even the chicken coop is an artistic outlet for the family. The walls are painted in a corn maze pattern, and the hens step on stones decorated with fried eggs, bunnies, and even a Chuck Taylor Converse shoe on their way to the coop. The kids have definitely caught the creative bug — his oldest is studying visual communications at Kent State University.

It’s hard for Rosario to believe he was once that kid who arrived in Columbus with just $25 and a backpack.

“It was sink or swim,” he said. “I knew I wanted to create my own story.”