Ramon Tejada receives the Vilcek Prize in Design for his leadership and commitment to accessibility and decolonization in design practices, and for his pedagogical approach that centers collaboration, inclusion, and radical innovation.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Tejada immigrated to the United States with his family when he was a child and grew up in New York City. He earned his bachelor’s at Wheaton College and an MFA in Directing and Performance Arts from Bennington College, Vermont, before completing an MFA in Graphic Design at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.
Tejada develops ideas around expanding design and making the theory and practice of design more accessible through the application of critical theory and decolonization. Prior to joining the faculty at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), he taught at Pratt Institute, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), Parsons/The New School, and CUNY-Queens College in New York.
“As a maker and teacher, I deliberately incorporate a broader and more expansive point of entry into my hybrid practice. This point of entry does not begin as a default with Anglo/Euro-centric ‘standards,’” he says. He calls this practice “puncturing” and embeds it into both his design and teaching work.
“The intersection of my practice and teaching is about making spaces for unheard voices and narratives and how this approach manifests in our work,” he says. “It is about thinking as a designer in relation to communicating possibilities, creativity, and imagination beyond the traditional spaces and communities where design has languished.”
Tejada devotes much of his work to the crucial process of exploring and analyzing both the development of design and its contemporary state within a decolonization context. He incorporates these practices into his work as a designer and maker, and encourages his students and clients to apply these lenses to their work and processes. His goal is to challenge cultural complacency and dominant cultural narratives in both the implementation and analysis of design.
Awards and Accomplishments
- Graphic Design USA Magazine Designer to Watch (2013)
- Communication Arts Annual 52 Best Design (2010)