Alumni Spotlight: Darren Melchiorre

I am currently the graphic designer for Roundabout Theatre Company the largest non-profit theatre company based in New York City. We produces classics and new plays on and off Broadway. I am also the art director/designer for my own company, Rotic Design, which creates graphics for the music industry. I was recently accepted into the National Recording Academy of Arts and Sciences (The Grammys!) for my work in album cover design and discussion.

My thesis project, Coverculture, an exhibition design exploring album covers as a reflection of our history and culture. Since graduating from SVA, I was in discussions to have the exhibition produced by the Experience Music Project in Seattle. I’ve also turned the idea into a blog now called Rotic Talk (rotictalk.tumblr.com) which reviews album covers and furthers the discussion on album covers and their impact and reflection on our culture.

One of the things I miss about design in NYC are the wheat-pasted posters you would see all around on construction sites, walls and other surfaces. I miss the energy they had and the bluntness of their design. It’s my goal to bring them back and to keep album art and packaging alive in the new era of digital music. My long term goal (well hopefully not too long!) is to win the Grammy Award for Best Record Packaging.

SVA MFA Design has had an unprecedented impact on my career. SVA taught me to dream big first, observe the world around me, and then you figure out how to make it happen. That knowledge has lead me to work on some pretty big design projects and experiences, from Broadway to working with Magic Johnson himself on his legacy logo.

I remember being at SVA and being thrown into this whirlwind of learning every aspect of design at such a rapid pace. It was so exhilarating to learn everything about your craft even when I knew nothing. The “do it all” approach is so important in today’s design world and I utilize it to this day. If you can be the thinker, the designer, the project manager, the promoter, the seller and the business manager all in one, you put yourself in an incredible position to create and your design has the possibility to go so far. Nowadays, you need to wear so many hats, which can be challenging, but you come out on the other side with sharper skills and growth. Through the SVA MFA Design program, not only did I learn to be a better designer, but I ultimately learned how to be a better thinker. I learned how to approach a challenge from so many more possibilities, just from being exposed to what design had to offer the world and “doing it all”!

My advice to any incoming students is to constantly open yourselves up to new experiences. Be a sponge and learn everything you can in your two years at SVA MFA Design (it will FLY BY!). Talk to your teachers and get to know them. The more you jump into the program, the more you are going to develop a design aesthetic that you never knew you had. An ultimately, observe and challenge the world. Observe its design and needs. Observe culture and what people respond (and don’t respond) to. Challenge it all!

And remember, as well as your actual teachers, your fellow classmates will be your best teachers. Everyone one of my classmates approached design from a different perspective, based on culture, life experiences, interests, etc. I was inspired by them every day and still am.