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It was ‘MIAD or bust’ for multi-talented designer
Xavier Ruffin ’10 doesn’t think he’s that special.

“Once you think you are special”, he says, “you expect people to treat you that way, and I like to stay grounded.”

xavier ruffin Problem is, there is very little about Xavier that isn’t special, including his humility.

Xavier overcame the challenges of Milwaukee’s inner-city life to start his own design firm at age 14 and hone his talents as a student in MIAD’s Pre-College program.

Now, a Communication Design junior with minors in Business and Photography, Xavier combines his skills in these areas with his personal and leadership skills.

“Xavier was an incredible asset to our front-end design and development team… Within days of starting, he was challenged to work on highly visible features for our top brands.”
David Mayer
Assistant Manager, Web Design
Kohl’s Corporation

Community Commitment
In addition to his internship as a web designer in the e-commerce division at Kohl’s Corporation, Xavier co-founded MIAD’s Hip Hop Club, has helped teach photography and design at Milwaukee’s John Marshall Community Learning Center, was an Orientation ’08 leader, and speaks on MIAD’s behalf to internal and external audiences.

He also works as the college’s lab tech monitor and is a committed member of the Common Ground Christian Club.

Kohl’s Take
David Mayer, assistant manager of web design for Kohl’s, says, “Xavier was an incredible asset to our front-end design and development team… Within days of starting, he was challenged to work on highly visible features for our top brands. Not only did he execute these with finesse, he enhanced them with new motion aesthetic.”

While doing all this, the Dean’s List student has continued to grow his design firm — Xar Creative — which he runs with his fiancé. “The company does a broad array of graphic design,” he says, “but we get a lot of web animation jobs. Having redesigned the Spanish Journal this summer, I am currently working on a website for the Milwaukee Striders AAU track team and for Jing’s restaurant here in the Third Ward.”

Fresh back from a class trip to Mexico to do field research for the Aspen Design Challenge International Design Competition, Xavier credits much of his success to his family, his faith, the scholarships that have helped him attend MIAD’s Pre-College and undergraduate programs, and MIAD’s faculty.


Following field research in Tzintzingareo, Mexico, Xavier and his teammates designed this poster as part of their Aqua Independence Project, which has been submitted to the Aspen Design Challenge International Design Competition. Conducted with Professor Anne-Ghory Goodman, their project aims to help communities become self-sufficient and maintain their water infrastructure to better their lives, homes and health.

Check out the Aqua Independence Project on YouTube, part of a documentary Xavier is working on.

Trust in faculty and scholarships
“The Communication Design faculty have genuinely been interested in my growth as a designer and don’t just stop teaching at the end of the class. From overseeing class trips out of state to meet the best in the business all the way to sitting down with me to have a conversation about my work, they always seem to have us on their minds.”

Yet, without his two-thirds scholarship, says Xavier, these accomplishments would not have happened since he “never would have chosen to be an artist/designer as a career.”

“During my Pre-College years, I built up so much faith and trust in this college and its community that it was MIAD or bust for me. I didn’t apply anywhere else — and I jumped for joy when I received my scholarship award letter.”

“My dreams of attending MIAD depended completely on scholarships. Scholarship donations don’t just provide students an opportunity to get an education; they can make a dream a reality and change a life. They have definitely changed mine.”

Change isn’t over yet for Xavier. As Kohl’s Mayer says, “He’s very talented — we can’t wait to see where he evolves.”

To view Xavier’s work in motion design for Kohl’s Corporation, click here.