Cartoons, guitars and graphic design


He has jammed with Twiddle, gotten his thumb bitten off by a dog and run a half marathon in 2 hours and 2 minutes.

Ryan Bradley Ackerman is not superhuman…but almost.

Ackerman, a Communications major with a Digital Media concentration here at Castleton, has a lot on his plate.

With three jobs, an internship and school, it’s easy to imagine where stress would fit in nicely among that chaotic schedule. But Ackerman enjoys staying busy.

“I find stuff that I love to do and focus on that,” he says, penciling in another task in his novel-sized day planner.

Ackerman isn’t all about work though. He has tangible talent when it comes to playing guitar. “He taught himself how to play in high school,” says girlfriend Ali Flewelling, a former student at Castleton. “He picked up a guitar and within a week knew 3 hours worth of songs. It was a long week.”  

He has not put the guitar down since and the two often perform together at local restaurants and taverns.

“The first time I heard Ali sing, I couldn’t stop smiling.” Ackerman says. “It’s the same way now. Even if I’ve heard the same song a hundred times, I can’t help but smile.”

Although his musical skills are apparent, his artistic skills may be even more impressive. Ackerman works for several local companies, working with marketing, merchandising and website operations. He also offers design consultations; one of the jobs being redesigning the menu at Kelvan’s, a restaurant in Rutland.

But Ackerman also gives Castleton Students a taste of his creative passion by drawing the editorial cartoons in the Spartan paper.

“He’s really talented,” says Martina Marchese. “Those cartoons are a huge hit, I hear people talking about them all the time.”

Castleton students aren’t the only ones murmuring praise about his art. Recently, Ackerman won a contest designing the new logo for the annual SolarFest weekend in Tinmouth, Vt.  Ackerman had nearly half of the votes throughout New England.

“I just looked at the previous designs and wanted to do something original; something that really captured the idea of SolarFest…even though I’ve never been,” Ackerman adds, looking slightly guilty.

That will change this year, his winning giving him free admission to camp out for the entire weekend, something he is very much looking forward to.

“I love being outside. Someday I will live in a place where I can go right from kayaking to snowboarding.” Ackerman said.

With all of his combined skills, Ackerman could easily go down many different career paths. But what he really wants to do is help people. He thinks he “could make a real difference in the lives of those who need it most,” but he is not yet sure where exactly that will lead him.

One path he has been down, that he can cross off his list for career choice, is dog training. Right out of high school he worked for a company in Rutland. Not only did he train dogs, but he was a training device for dogs. He often volunteered to wear the “bite suit” and allowed government dogs to attack him for practice. After receiving massive bruises from the bites, Ackerman helped redesign the bite suit.

After retiring from the canine business, Ackerman bounced around a bit, enjoying school in Boston for a year before finally feeling settled back here in Vermont. 

With every serious aspect of his life there is a quirky one to match it. On any given night you may find him watching The Office reruns, quoting every episode line for line while munching on his favorite snack of tuna fish and Saltine crackers.

Or maybe tearing it up at Killington, his only goal to survive the black diamond trails in order to celebrate with a local beer at the end of the day.

No matter what he is doing, Ryan Ackerman finds a way to make the most of it.

“I remind myself everyday that I live in a beautiful place and have great opportunities. It’s just up to me to go make them happen.”

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