Diego Rios (M.A. '09) Art Director Office: Publications and Advertising Campus: Old Westbury
Member of NYIT Since: 2006
As a 15-year-old growing up in Colombia, Diego Rios (M.A. '09) had little idea that his first camera, an Olympus 35mm, would be a gateway to his future career. Now, as art director at NYIT, he uses his photographic skills and knack for transforming marketing ideas into compelling visuals to position the university as a next-generation global institution.
"We are genetically wired to respond differently to visuals," Rios says. "That's why one of my biggest challenges is to communicate the right message using images. For example, in marketing you can write about technology and globalization, but how do you graphically depict those concepts so that a wide audience will get the point? That's where visual art and business savvy must be combined."
Rios takes satisfaction in the work done by his office on projects such as the "We're Out There. Join Us." brand awareness campaign, which ran in summer 2012 on the CBS Super Screen at 42nd Street in Times Square and in national media.
"I am proud of the role I have played in the transformation of NYIT's brand over the last 10 years," Rios says. "The process was challenging for all of us involved. It's gratifying to see the results on campus and in all of our advertising and communications."
Rios' career has gone through its own evolution. After graduating from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia with a bachelor's degree in computer and system information engineering, he started working in 1992 for the multinational tire and rubber company, Goodyear. He later became its regional leader for computer systems implementation in Latin America.
"My work for Goodyear took me to many different countries," he says. "I always brought my camera along. I was primarily an engineer, but that's when my journey to becoming a professional photographer began."
In the four years he spent traveling for work, Rios took pictures as a hobby and captured the landscapes of Argentina, Peru, Mexico, Venezuela, and Brazil. By 1999, he was ready for another movethis time to New York. He studied English and computer graphics, and worked as a photographer at a New Jersey-based newspaper and as art director at Sky Media Group before joining NYIT.
"My first priority as art director is to protect NYIT's brand," Rios says. "Just as important is knowing and doing my best to implement the goals established in NYIT's 2030 plan. My team and I keep them in mind when addressing the needs of our faculty and staff. We try to offer services and solutions consistent with that vision."
Rios is working on his M.B.A. at NYIT and exploring extracurricular activities in fashion photography in his spare time. He's been collaborating with agencies in New York and London to create marketing concepts they can use for top fashion brands such as Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, and Prada.
"My latest project was for Louis Vuitton," says Rios, who conceived, styled, and photographed an editorial campaign for the famous French fashion house in February 2013. "I shot an old-fashioned tea party on a frozen lake in upstate New York. There were ten of us working in low temperatures. It was freezing and fun and the contrast of a high-culture tea party on ice worked really well."
Rios, whose camera of choice is now the Canon Mark III, finds creative inspiration from contemporary fashion editorial photographers, such as Dimitris Theocharis, Thomas Kettner and Steve Klein as well as from his travels abroad to Bangkok, Thailand and Beijing, China. His favorite Chinese sites are the modern National Centre for the Performing Arts, the opera house designed by architect Paul Andreu, and the Forbidden City, an ancient imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty.
"I love visiting historic architectural sites," Rios says. "I look for design details that are unique and at the juxtaposition of the old and the new. Fine detail and great contrast have always fascinated me."