December 10, 2019

Alumni Update: Interview with Robert Shimits

Posted in Alumni, Interview.

Firefighter/Paramedic for the Delaware Fire Department + Creative Director/Lead Designer/ Front-end Developer for the Retrofit Source

Whether or not it’s fighting fires or designing the latest and greatest, Robert Shimits does it all! This 2009 BGSU Graphic Design graduate works his tail off protecting people as a firefighter and protecting great design as well.

Why did you choose BGSU to study design?

Initially, I was accepted into BGSU for Fine Arts and enrolled undecided in that area. BGSU was well regarded in the Arts at the time, as well as Graphic Design, which I suspected could very well be where I ended up. I loved the atmosphere that BG provided, the campus and that the distance from home was within a two-hour drive. It only took one additional semester for me to make the final decision to transition over to the GD program, and I never looked back!

What advice would you give students currently in the program?

Other than what I stated above, in being grateful, working hard – never stop learning, growing, and bettering yourself and your skillset. Staying hungry in this effort and being persistent could prove the difference between you and the next guy up. With that in mind, always be on a pursuit of happiness. Don’t push and push to the point where your work, health, and well-being suffer. Get as much sleep as you can, find ways to alleviate stress, and remember there is a life outside of work.

What is the best part about being a firefighter?

There are an abundance of highlights to a career as a firefighter/paramedic! There is the obvious, providing service to my community and helping others, which is the reason many get into this industry in the first place. There is the rush of going into a fully engulfed structure and fighting fire, another prominent reason. For me, it is the brotherhood and camaraderie that one gets by being a member of this team. Oh, and don’t forget the schedule! This is a very unique schedule that allows me to hold two very different careers simultaneously.

Does your degree in Graphic Design affect your decision-making whilst in the firefighting field?

My degree has taught me a ton. But, there is one thing that it taught me exceptionally well: the ability to think outside of the box, find solutions to problems that need to be solved, and then rationalize those decisions. Being able to justify decisions in this industry can be life or death, not only for myself but for my crew or those victims/patients in need. Outside of real-time decisions being made in the field, I have also been able to bring insight and ideas to the table for the technology side of the Fire/EMS service. I’ve made recommendations for user interfaces, dashboard displays, as well as designs for marketing posters, philanthropic based duty uniform t-shirts, and also new monogram logos to be used internally.

What is something you miss about BGSU?

I miss the classes, the camaraderie, sharing ideas, seeing others renditions of the same project, as well as strong creative direction and teaching from instructors. I fully enjoy learning and taking in all I can, and with where I am now these benefits can get lost at times.

What is your most accomplished/ favorite piece of work that you have created?

I have always been proud of the work I have done for The Retrofit Source, as well as one of their in-house brands Morimoto. Both are brands that I have been involved with from the beginning of their existence. With Morimoto, I remember back in 2008 (while still enrolled at BGSU), sitting at the owner’s home in Columbus just hanging out in his living room brainstorming ideas over how the brand should look and feel. Since then I have worked on everything from the identity to the website and the packaging. In this case, packaging may have been and continues to be the most rewarding just because of all of the work that goes into it, and then to actually get to look and feel that end product come to life and impact users.

What is your favorite color or colors if you have one?

I’ve always been a fan of gray tones, especially cool gray tones. Unfortunately, most colors I use tend to be client-driven, but there isn’t much that can be done about that. Outside of work, I tend to like a nice bright red or olive green for clothing.


Interview by Andrew T. Rogers