“My love for sports was huge… That’s what got me into design and led me down this path that I’m blessed to be on.”
May 16, 2024

He’s A Major League Designer in More Ways Than One

It takes talent, determination, practice, and persistence to score a sports victory. Just ask  Oliver Figueroa-Celi. But Oliver is not an athlete; he’s a graphic designer whose relentless pursuit of the chance to design for a major league sports team has finally achieved victory.

“I couldn’t believe it actually happened,” Oliver said. After years of trying, he recently interned with the New York Red Bulls and is currently designing for the Baltimore Orioles.

Plus, Oliver graduates from PCCC this month with his Associate in Applied Science Degree in Graphic Design and a 3.9 GPA. He graduates with Highest Honors and is also the recipient of the Graduate Award in Graphic Design.  “I pride myself on that, too,” he said of his academic achievement.

Growing up in Passaic, Oliver was not particularly artistic early on, but he was completely captivated by the art in sports posters, ads, and social media. “My love for sports was huge. I love football, baseball, soccer…but basketball is my number one. That’s what got me into design and led me down this path that I’m blessed to be on.”

 Oliver noticed that there were players he wanted to see in sports ads, but “nobody was doing them,” so he began to design his own work around those players, honing his skills along the way. Oliver also created and maintains an Instagram account where he accepts client commissions, primarily for sports-related materials, and builds his portfolio.

Determined to design for a major league team, Oliver submitted his work samples persistently, often to the same teams over and over.  “After a while, I started to think it was never going to happen, but then it did,” he said. Not only did it happen, but two major league teams apparently thought Oliver was a major league talent and were willing to wait for him.

While still in high school at Passaic County Technical Institute (PCTI), Oliver was offered an internship with the Red Bulls. “I was completely shocked,” he said.  Though he was a top choice for the position, Oliver was under 18 then and couldn’t accept. The Bulls agreed to call again when he was in college…and they did.

Majoring in graphic design at PCCC, Oliver had to complete an internship to fulfill his degree requirements. He was able to do that through the Red Bulls internship, creating posters and marketing materials for the pro team.

Then, in late 2023, the Orioles came calling with the offer of a paid internship in Baltimore. Thrilled by this opportunity, Oliver explained that he could not come to Baltimore while still attending college classes in New Jersey. The Orioles, too, were willing to wait for him.

Now, a month into his internship, Oliver is living his dream in Baltimore. “it’s been amazing,” he sais, “but it’s still kind of a surreal feeling for me.” 

Mostly self-taught when he arrived at PCCC, Oliver says his graphic design classes here have developed his professionalism and polished his skills, especially by teaching him the professional terminology used in the graphic design field and by introducing him to typography, which he found especially beneficial. “I usually don’t use much text in my sports designs, but I know that a lot of marketing requires text, so learning typography was important.”

Grateful for the sense of community he had at PCCC, Oliver said his two years here have flown by. He plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in graphic design but will postpone further education if the Orioles internship, which ends next Fall, leads to a full-time job with the team.

Oliver leaves PCCC with encouraging words to others who have a dream that may seem impossible.  “Just keep trying. Keep putting your name out there, so they remember you. That’s what happened to me, and it can only go up from here.”