Alumni Stories

Ron Berenato

Ron Berenato, Alumni

Stick to what you love and do best. Ron Berenato 1987 , The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale
Associate of Science, Advertising Design, 1987

Uses Industry Experience to Help High School Students Find and Utilize Their Creativity

Ron Berenato teaches desktop publishing and commercial printing to 10th – 12th grade students at Bartlett High School. “Our program is a full-service print shop and our services include computer design, book making, and screen printing.” Prior to joining the school, Ron worked in either production, design, or art direction for Rogers Advertising, University of Alabama College of Continuing Studies, Birmingham Color Graphics, RR Donnelley & Sons Digital Division, and Archer Malmo Advertising.

He explains that it takes persistence and lifelong learning to succeed in the industry. While Ron admits that he didn’t always try as hard as he should have during school, he turned things around and now inspires today’s students. “I have to guide young minds to be creative problem-solvers. I lead through example. Many of my students pursue a post-secondary design degree or enter the workforce after graduation.”

Ron’s commitment to his career helped him to move beyond a position where he was managing more than designing. “I loved being an artist. I hated being a manager. Stick to what you love and do best. Never take a job just because they offer you a lot of money. Becoming a teacher allowed me to become the perfect balance of artist and manager without all the unreasonable deadlines. Teaching high school kids is tough, but it’s very rewarding.”

He admits that keeping up with technology is difficult and time-consuming—but necessary. Ron suggests that current students learn to improvise, adapt, and overcome. “I attended The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale from 1985 to 1987—we were the first class to meet in the building on 17th Street. It was a very exciting time and lessons I learned started a career that has been challenging as well as rewarding.” He completed an Associate of Science in Advertising Design from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in 1987.

His first job offer came during the school’s portfolio review, which led him to gain the experience needed to relocate to a position in Alabama. “This was a time when computers had 80 megabyte hard drives and we were one of the few shops with computers large enough to run Adobe Photoshop. I was responsible for all of the image manipulation and color correction and ran a Scitex film processor—when direct-to-film was a big thing.”

Work and life took him to Tennessee, where he worked for RR Donnelley & Sons Digital Division, then Archer Malmo Advertising. “We were responsible for launching the Total Gold rewards program for all of the Harrah’s Casino properties.” Ron also worked for a small agency, but when the workload began to take up too much of his personal time, he applied for an open position within Shelby County Schools. “I didn’t know that the job was at the high school that I had attended.”

Today, he’s excited to be helping the next generation of artists to find their creative sides—something that an instructor at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale once did for him. “I remember one morning during advertising design class, my teacher, Joy DeLorenzo, saw some ad comps that I was working on. Although my marker skills needed a lot of work, she saw my headlines and told me that I could be art director material one day. I never forgot those words. They gave me the confidence to know that I would be successful if I stuck with it.”