Designer's Career Flies With Eagles Meet Man Behind Your Big-Game Souvenir

by Jennifer A. Cline, writer/editor-One College Avenue. Images courtesy of Ryan Starr.

Avid Philadelphia Eagles fans (Is there any other kind?) are likely well acquainted with the work of Pennsylvania College of Technology alumnus Ryan Starr, ’00.

The Philadelphia Eagles' only graphic designer, alumnus Ryan Starr, '00, takes on all the print materials that are part of the game-day experience, from tickets and banners to programs and paper cups  all with fans' reactions in mind.The graphic design graduate, the team’s creative services manager, became the Eagles’ first – and only – in-house graphic designer when he was hired in 2007. As such, his job can be demanding but is filled with variety.

“On a given day, my job duties could go from the simplest tasks, like designing an e-mail invitation for a happy hour for our premium services department, to very high-level tasks like designing our season tickets or implementing our branding campaign for the current season throughout our print and Web materials.

"I got the job at the Eagles, and my passion for design was renewed."

“Some of the larger tasks I have over the course of the year include the design and layout of the cheerleader calendar; the concept, design and integration of the branding campaign over the course of a season; art direction of our publications; and support for our Web department,” he said.

Starr moved to the Philadelphia area following his Penn College graduation and has been working there since. He lives in the city’s suburbs with his wife, Marisa, and daughter Zoe, who is his greatest joy.

Happy as he is, graphic design was not the career path Starr had intended to follow.

“When I was growing up, I always imagined myself a writer, and I thought that’s what I would do when I went to college,” he said.

But his favorite English teacher – watching the enjoyment Starr got editing the high school yearbook – suggested he look into the graphic design program at Penn College.

“I came for a visit and was impressed with the facilities, and while I was already accepted at Penn State, I pulled out and went to Penn College instead,” he said.

He had difficulty at first with the major’s art-intensive introductory courses.

Inspired by the depth of fans' passion for Eagles football, Starr's 2010 season-ticket design incorporates ticket-holders' stories. 'I can't wait to see how we integrate these fans into our game-day presentations. I really think fans are going to enjoy it,' he said.“I think I went in thinking it was all going to be Photoshop and QuarkXpress, and I was disappointed at first for the lack of those classes upfront,” he said. “It wasn’t until later that I realized classes like Color Theory and Drawing were laying a foundation for what we would do later over the four years, and by the end of those four years, I was glad that I had that background, when I sat down in front of Photoshop or QuarkXpress, that I wouldn’t have had early on.

“When I talk to my peers about their college experiences, I find that no one really had one like I did at Penn College, and I’m thankful for it, because I feel it gives me a different perspective, which is one of the more important things to have in this field.”

One of the projects he’s excited to infuse with his unique perspective is the Eagles’ 2010 season tickets.

Starr developed the logo that will accompany promotional material for the 2010 kickoff weekend, when the Eagles will commemorate their 1960 NFL Championship win over the Packers. 'The shape of the crest is meant to invoke the NFL shield. The Eagle Head, our current mark, at the top of the crest is balanced by the 1960 eagle with his wings spread in the banner at the base of the crest,' Starr said.“It’s really exciting for me to see this new idea come to life,” Starr said. “This year we reached out to our season ticket holders to share with us their stories, and we were touched by the depths of their passion for Eagles football, so we decided to feature a fan on all 10 of our season tickets.

“The idea came from a comp that I did two seasons ago – which is a lesson to the current class of designers: never throw anything away – and it’s been a whirlwind experiment, from getting the idea approved to reaching out to the fan base to actually whittling down the best stories and finally having them come in for a photo shoot, not to mention finally laying out the tickets in all the various sizes that we need them and getting them prepped for print. I can’t wait to see how we integrate these fans into our game-day presentations. I really think the fans are going to enjoy it.”

The Eagles fans, known for showing unabashed emotion for their team, are at the heart of Starr’s work.

“I really like to think I’m doing things that a fan will look at and go: ‘That’s cool. I want to hang that in my Eagles room.’ We really do have the most passionate fans in the NFL, and I like that I might be adding to the graphic history of the team,” he said.

While Starr has had his share of what might have been dream jobs, including senior designer and later art director at a Philadelphia marketing firm, his current position far surpasses them.

“In fact, this is the best job I’ve ever had,” he says. “Ironically, I think I was about ready to look for something else before this job came along. I was very disillusioned with the job I was at before this one. Even though, from the outside, it looked like I should have been happy, I was very unhappy.

“Then I got the job at the Eagles, and my passion for design was renewed. Being happy with what you do is the most important thing.” ■

See more of Starr's work at www.ryanstarrdesign.com.

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