Rob Connelly: Making TPA beautiful, one graphic at a time
Artist, genius, designer, dad - the man behind TPA’s incredible graphics goes by many names. At work, his colleagues call him Rob.
If you’ve seen a beautiful flight poster, graphic or animation from TPA, chances are the idea emanated from the mind of Rob Connelly, Tampa International Airport’s graphic designer of seven years. Rob is part of the three-man team that makes up the Airport’s in-house design studio, a wondrous place that churns out videos, graphics and other visuals at a rapid pace.
When he was growing up, he had dreams being of a veterinarian, an astronaut, a pro BMX rider, but soon realized none of those were a good fit for his personality.
In Rob’s mind, the process of creating a graphic or a design is methodical – to some, it feels more like magic. It all starts with an idea from another colleague or department, turned into a written request, then Rob makes it a reality – a unique design that brings life and color to the initial idea presented.
"A number of methods actually go into creating ideas," Rob said. "They range from group collaboration to research to grabbing ideas out of thin air and seeing what sticks. The process is actually more technical than creative."
He says the process happens in three phases that ultimately come together - a graphic puzzle, if you will. As a designer for an International Airport, Rob's projects are not only seen by his colleages and community, but are shared with travelers literally around the world.
At home, he practices a different kind of magic – that of being a father to two children, Matthew, 3, and Sophie, 7 months. His favorite part of this job is experiencing his kids' reactions when they're seeing or learning something for the first time.
"Every other Monday, when I pick up my eldest from daycare, I show up with a small smoothie drink," he said. "Every time, when he runs around the corner and sees the cup, his reaction is always the same, “Wow, you got zooomie!” I know those days are numbered, but for now, it’s the best."
When he’s not working, Rob is enjoying his hobbies - which he says are really his kids hobbies, like watching Numberblocks videos, a British children’s animated show on Youtube.
The month of May is extra special to him and his family because it is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. Rob and his wife are both of Korean descent and this month gives him the opportunity to celebrate traditions, foods - like Korean BBQ and cold noodles - and nurture new traditions with his family. One tradition very special to him is Baek-il, the celebration of a baby's first 100 days, which he has celebrated with both of his children.
For Rob, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a time to share and create special memories with his family. For TPA, it's a time to celebrate diversity among the Airport's employees, guests and passengers. Employees like Rob bring culture, creativity and a unique point of view to everything he does, and TPA and its surrounding community is better for it.