Artist Spotlight: Paul Kramer

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Rose Rucoba
Contributing Writer

Aspiring designer of album covers for the world’s most popular music artists with a passion for helping people, Paul Kramer, a senior graphic design major at the University of Dayton, has revealed the method behind his artistic madness.

Kramer’s artistic influences started when he took up an interest in drawing at a young age.

“I think I got a lot of inspiration from my grandpa,” Kramer said. “Growing up, he liked to draw. He didn’t have a job or anything, but just the fact that it was something he was passionate about. He would buy me different art sets and different watercolor sets and I think that was really cool because that was my first step into it.”

Yet, while Kramer grew up with a love for art, once he came to UD, it was a different story. He started out as a pre-med major and did not switch to graphic design until his sophomore year. Although the change between the two majors is quite a leap, he said his vision of entering the medical field was grounded in his passion for helping people.

“I always knew I wanted to help people,” Kramer said. “That was probably the big reason why I chose pre-medicine at first, and then that didn’t really work out too well for me. I found more so my strong suites were in the creative fields.”

After the switch, Kramer said that he was met with more influence and inspiration, but this time from his peers.

“I came in and I knew that I was pretty artistic,” Kramer explained, “but seeing the quality that my peers were creating, I knew that I was coming in late as a sophomore going into a freshman program. Not that I had to catch up, necessarily, but that there was a bigger world out there than just me sitting at home doing something.”

Now, as a developed artist, Kramer is proud of his personality as an artist, which he describes as “colorful”.

“I feel like I’m a colorful person myself,” Kramer said. “I don’t know how to explain it, my personality, I guess, is goofy. In terms of my artwork, I like having a lot of color, a lot of pop, something that catches your attention. I feel like that’s especially important in graphic design. I want stuff that catches people’s eye, not just something, you know, you’re going to walk by or look at for a second or two, even if at all.”

In terms of the evolution of his artwork and his growth as a graphic designer, Kramer explained that technology is making it increasingly easier for him to combine his two passions, hand-drawn art and graphic art.

“At first I started off more with drawing because that’s what got me introduced to it. I guess now, because I’m learning about it more, a lot of it is digital. I’ve learned a lot of cool new ways to create using PhotoShop or Illustrator,” Kramer said.

He continued, saying how he is developing a sense of style that is blending the old and the new.

“Before it was either one or the other and I think now doing stuff by hand is important, and then being able to learn how to create things digitally along with that definitely would be nice,” Kramer explained.

This sense of a free-hand/digital combo is evident in the artwork pictured, which Kramer says were inspired by the artist, Ysabel LeMay, who takes photographs and embellishes them digitally.

“So I took images of my friends just like sitting at home,” Kramer explained. “I just walked around campus and took images of all the plant life, and then digitally created it as if they [friends] were appearing in nature.”

He also explained how he hopes his unique style will help him reach his dream of one day designing album covers for popular bands and singers.

“What I want to do in the future —besides help people—is create album covers for music groups or rappers or whatever,” Kramer said. “That’s something that I think would be really cool.”

Kramer went on to explain how a guest speaker had come to one of his art classes and introduced him to the art form of album covers. Kramer now makes it a point to create a new album design every day to get good practice.

 As for the future, Kramer said he is still searching for his next big project and how he can use it to pursue his passion for helping people.

“I do want to help people,” Kramer said. “I’m not entirely sure how. I know of ways I can do it, but not the best way. I’m from Chicago so I definitely want to go back. After I graduate I want to stay in Chicago. In terms of specific artwork, I don’t know. There is a period where I want to do movie posters and album covers and stuff like that.”

For now, though, Kramer is helping people see a new side to art through his own colorful style and artwork.

You can find more of Paul Kramer’s work on Instagram at pkramer_54.