BFA Communication Design
Syracuse University, Class of '09
Rob has worked with a number of tech startups since graduating from SU in 2009. He has worked extensively with a broad range of clients in industries ranging from Fortune 150 corporations such as Arrow Electronics, healthcare product manufacturers like Welch-Allyn (now Hil-Rom) and individuals in the music entertainment industry. He has designed mobile and web solutions for country clubs, restaurants, tech startups and has worked extensively with development teams to create rapid implementation of features and user experience considerations. Currently Rob is seeking to relocate to the Cary/Durham area of North Carolina in an effort immerse his skills and passion in the technology triangle.
Interested in my professional experience? Click the image to the left to download the PDF version of my resume! Want a more personalized story of how I came to be the professional I am today? Scroll through the timeline below! Thank you for checking out the story of my professional career – I look forward to speaking with you soon.
Born on August 8th, 1985, Robert Anthony Dracker named after his Dad and St. Anthony in true Italian Catholic fashion. Dad is 50% German, 50% Sicilian Italian. Mom is 100% Napoli Italian. The combination of those things gave me a pretty solid natural talent in art, music and engineering… if you believe in that sort of thing passing though genetics.
I was an insatiable building and inventing machine as a child. I liked video games and cartoons, but I couldn’t stop tearing things apart and putting them back together. Anything I could get my hands on became a science project, an experiment or a repurposed something-or-other.
I played Little League Baseball for a number of years in my youth. During games I was relegated to left field where I could daydream staring up at the clouds and playing with dandelions without making us lose too badly. It became clear early on that I was more concerned with imagination than sports.
At the age of 9 I designed my first menu using Microsoft Greetings Workshop on my dad’s 80 MHZ 4mb RAM Gateway PC that hardly ran the brand-spankin’-new Windows 95.
It was for Mother’s day – my little brother and I made a menu with all our favorite breakfast items on it, then proceeded to use everything in out mom’s kitchen to make a mess preparing breakfast. I used at least one bottle of extra virgin olive oil in an attempt to fry up a single salt potato I cut into little pieces. I got bored after a few minutes and my mom ate raw potatoes with a smile.
I didn’t know it then, but this was the first thing I ever designed on a computer. Little did I know I would become a designer later in life. Really, I didn’t even know I’d become a designer until I was 20. Always listen to your younger self.
I started drawing around 6th grade in an effort to fit in with the kids in my class designing their own X-Men characters. I was not very good at first, but I realized I could mimic quite well. Around the same age I produced a near-photocopy quality frame from a Spawn comic.
I ran to show my mom, who consequently was not only unimpressed but thoroughly horrified that I had fantastically drawn such a blood-spewing crazy looking glowing demon superhero from hell. I couldn’t find that comic… my mom probably burned it while calling a priest.
Mimicking comics became my first art education – I learned how to shape bodies and faces and hands and feet this way. As I grew, so did my style.
In 7th grade, we all had an eccentric writing teacher who seemed to have a new identity crisis or random style almost daily. To this effect, I made a fully illustrated action figure catalog in my notebook representing the various characters (and multiple personalities) of this particular teacher. They came complete with various tools and accessories. I’m pretty sure if I started manufacturing them out of my backpack that year I’d have made some serious bank. I eventually got caught, but luckily that professor saw the humor in it.
One of my favorite things in life is music. I had taken piano lessons earlier in life but drums were different. Drums were awesome. I got to hit stuff hard… and it felt great. I still play frequently.
I actually got to meet one of my drumming icons a bit later in life. I won’t mention his name for privacy sake but he’s a multi-platinum artist, and he revived my hope and passion in music again. We still exchange texts sometimes and it makes me feel really cool.
I found a great outlet in creative writing in a 10th grade elective course. This is a passion that endures today as I work towards completing my first book!
Just prior to graduating from high school, a friend of mine was looking into schools like RISDI and RIT for design. It was really interesting to me – we were in the same art and tech drawing classes, but I was convinced by my very-right-brained parents that design or art or music was NOT a viable option for the future. I didn’t know any better… so I assumed that my creative core wouldn’t create a compelling profession. I would start my college career aiming to be a doctor, but the truth about ourselves tends to find it’s way into the light eventually.
Graduated from CBA in 2003. I was really excited to escape the clutches of a restrictive Catholic school education.
I started college at Syracuse University in the Arts & Sciences school. I was sort of aimless as most people are at that point in life, but my dad is a doctor so I thought I’d start there. I didn’t really get far before I realized I cared more about music and artwork than biology and chemistry classes… but a few electives in Psychology really intrigued me and I had switched to a Psychology major by the time year two rolled around.
After a couple years of this nagging pain in my side that I was not doing what I was made to do… my Communication Design friends brought me to meet the program leaders and I scheduled a sit-down with the creator of the program, Ken Hine.
Ken took my passion seriously. He could see the capacity in me to create new products, services, artwork, design… and to see my ideas through to creation. With no previous experience in design and a haphazard art portfolio I scratched together from sketchbooks and art classes, Ken wrote a personal recommendation for me to enter the program. It was the only hope I had and it was the only one I needed. I was going to become a designer!
I learned really quickly that Commercial Art is way less art than it is commercial business. I also learned really quickly that my time management needed work, that design school was WAY more difficult than just doing some artwork and that I was NOT prepared whatsoever to perform as required.
I failed my first semester of design school. It pissed me off, it made me angry, it broke my heart, it made me cry… but most of all it saved my life. I was firmly told “No, you can’t have that, you haven’t deserved it.”
It destroyed me for a few months, but it was the best lesson I had ever received in becoming an adult. I was told very clearly and very unforgivingly that what I wanted was not available to me. Not without a much-improved attitude, work ethic, effort, time management skillset and determination. The entire next semester I spent taking more art classes like painting, illustration and art history. I could either give up or I could develop the drive to push forward. I concluded that the only way forward was to confront myself and my challenges.
Returning to design school in the fall, I chose to find the drive and determination to succeed. To use a quote from a college mentor of mine, “Fail early, fail often and fail in spectacular fashion.” I had finally learned that failure is not the end of the line – it is the beginning of success.
In what was my junior year of design school (my fifth year at SU at the time) I found a path towards self-discipline and self-development that began with martial arts training. In July of 2007 I started training at Impact Martial Arts in Clay, NY. Martial arts has become a source of continued discipline and development in my life, and I credit it with helping me develop the dedication and focus that I needed to complete design school and to forge my way forward in the effort of finding work after school.
In may of 2009 I graduated from SU with a BFA in Communication Design.
The first thing to go out the window after a recession tends to be the marketing budget. To use a quote from Mad Men, “Creative is the most important least important thing.” Job options were limited and small economies like Syracuse were hit hard. I decided to do what probably only 1% of insane new graduates decide to do: start a business with no knowledge whatsoever about business. It became the best source of foundational business education I could have hoped for.
I began programming in 9th grade, learning Q-Basic and some basic HTML – but after graduating in 2009 I picked up an internship with an interactive design studio in Syracuse called 2nd Nature. I picked up some more advanced skills in HTML, CSS and JQuery here and began to develop some web development chops.
I was always an information fanatic – but at my internship here I was able to put it into action with the organization of data into hardware workflows, software flow charts and general information architecture for various interactive design projects such as experience center exhibits and interactive product presentations.
DrackerDesign started as a personal DBA for doing some freelance jobs as I worked to create my own source of employment in Syracuse, where the market offered little in terms of communication design employment opportunities. I found some footing in doing freelance work and decided to begin learning more about business and what it might take to start a full-blown studio. As I’ve worked with various clients throughout the years, I’ve experienced many different successes, failures and a lot of opportunities to learn new things. It was an intensive course of self-education in business and customer service.
Impact Martial Arts in Clay, NY became a source of continued self-development, self-discipline and leadership skills development since I began in college. I fully credit Martial Arts with giving me the skills I needed to complete an intensive design degree and to confidence to begin doing freelance work where adversity and market conditions made employment difficult.
In August of 2010 my dedication to Martial Arts culminated in earning my 1st degree Black Belt, an accomplishment that marked the successful achievement of a very high-level goal that I had set for myself. Black Belt ethics, dedication, passion, drive and discipline have become an identifying core of how I conduct myself professionally.
The study of Psychology, particularly my own, has been a passion in my life. Like most, I struggled through some tough times. I decided that I would confront and redefine these experiences, and a personal psychology seminar seemed like the right place to do it. I learned a valuable set of skills that were not taught to me early in life, and they had a profound impact once I began to implement what I learned.
After my experience with 2nd Nature Studios, I began another internship with Cowley Associates in Syracuse. This was a great opportunity to learn about the advertising industry in Syracuse, and I completed several ad campaigns, film and photography projects and some basic website designs.
I had the opportunity to meet some cool people and volunteer for a Tony Robbins event in New Jersey in the summer of 2012. It was a great refresher for the UPW event I attended in 2011.
In 2012 I joined a Welch Allyn think-tank called Blue Highway as a UX/UI designer performing lead interface design, human factors research and information architecture. The project was code named Project Runway, and we developed an extraordinarily robust feature set for a health data measurement and management suite that would stretch across all media from mobile to desktop to TV gateways – as well as physician and dietician interfaces.
The application was preliminarily named and branded “Root”, indicating that measurement and management is at the root of any healthy lifestyle. Our software suite was eventually sold as a library of PHP-based functionality, and much of it can be found as the source code of some major health management software suites today. It included features such as:
After completing the Welch Allyn project, I found an opportunity to learn a bit more about the advertising business in Syracuse. I found fairly quickly that working with this company was not in my best interest due to poor management and business practices, but I appreciated the experience of working on some interesting projects around downtown Syracuse.
At this point I had developed a solid network of clients and colleagues and had been producing regular work for a number of clients in Syracuse. I had a number workspaces built out, including a prototyping and product design studio, a home design office, a music studio and creative space at the Gear Factory in Syracuse. I fully incorporated Dracker Design Studios as an S-Corp in NYS in April of 2014 (to replace my freelance sole proprietorship previously named DrackerDesign).
I joined another tech startup as VP of Communications at nBrane Cloud Development Studios. I was responsible for developing the corporate identity, product and support packages, quantitative pricing for support and development, as well as all marketing and advertisement efforts. In addition I provided UX/UI design for the primary product offering as well as DotNetNuke skinning for the primary site design. nBrane provided cloud management, .NET and DotNetNuke hosting solutions, website design services, server farm management, CDN setup for .NET implementations and SEO services.
At the Tony Robbins Business Mastery seminar, I enjoyed the opportunity to learn from some of the top professionals in business leadership. I sat in proximity with a vast range of people – from those new to business to many who were looking to take their successful businesses to a new level. I met a couple of very high-profile professionals in investing, and got the opportunity to pitch a mobile application to a client handling a Mazda mobile app. I worked with many different individuals at various stages of business success in various exercises and learning sessions throughout the course of the seminar. I can honestly say I left this experience with an outstanding map forward and a great foundation in the facets of running a business and managing teams.
In my continued training in Martial Arts I earned my 2nd Degree Black Belt in August of 2015.
Realizing that I needed sales experience in order to build business acumen, I was introduced to Seneca Data Distributors, Inc. Seneca was in the middle of a transition after being acquired by ARROW Electronics in 2014, and they needed a communication specialist to assist with the development of sales programs, marketing materials, social media development, brand development and new website development.
I have gained an incredible amount of experience in the last two years at ARROW including organizational structure, sales team support and management, labelling, barcoding and packing processes, product marketing processes and more. As I move forward in my career I am strategizing how I can combine my design, communication, human psychology, team dynamics and sales experience into an effective management role for both my own entrepreneurial efforts as well as the potential for an expanded role in another organization.
Loavables is a side passion of mine with a purpose. I thought that if I started a side business it should benefit people on a larger scale, so the business plan of Loavables is to sell bread, flour mixes, baking utensils and more, and to donate a portion of the profits to soup kitchens and shelters. Eventually I would like to turn it into a bakery restaurant!
Check it out at https://www.loavables.com
In October of 2016 I asked the love of my life to marry me at Disney World. Go big or go home, right? She said YES!!! I’m a lucky guy.
Redesign and launch of personal portfolio website – www.robdracker.com
Taking much of what I learned about channel distribution in electronics from my much-appreciated time at Arrow, I wanted to create a higher level of production and design for clients who really wanted to take their business to the next level. Arrow gave me a lot of experience in understating the world of global business and multi-channel distribution… but it was time to get back to my roots and bring that newfound knowledge to businesses who want to get there. WMC was born and I’m on the lookout to build a team who want to be part of an intense creative atmosphere known as Weapons of Mass Creation.
Weapons of Mass Creation was a business name used for freelance way back just after my college years. It’s a name that stuck with me all these years and a vision whose time had come, as far as I was concerned. Combining creative production, web/app development, video production and product development – I am working to turn WMC into a full-scale solution which assists customers with creating products and services, developing a brand experience for those products and services, and following through to developing and maintaining those communication practices for the development of a base of dedicated customers.