Kowiatek: In the right place at the right time—and with the right skills from MVCC

eric kowiatek headshotEleven years ago, Eric Kowiatek ’08 got a life-changing lesson in being in the right place at the right time.

“A friend of mine caught wind that there might be a professional hockey team coming to Utica,” he says. “At the time, the idea was that it was going to be the Utica Flames. He made a fan club page and then I
made the logo and then some more graphics. That page got discovered.”

Soon after, Kowiatek received a call from Utica Comets owner Rob Esche looking for the creator of the web graphics. He ended up doing a lot of small design projects for Esche and was ultimately offered the graphic designer position for the Comets.

Leading up to this opportunity, Kowiatek chose to attend MVCC and enrolled in the Applied Computer Science program. He says he learned about web design, enough to help him with some basic work, but he found his calling in his design classes, especially Theory of Light. “At some point, I learned that the design half of that program was really what I liked,” he says.

While the Comets were the affiliate for the Vancouver Canucks, Kowiatek designed the alternate logo, which won the 2015 Best New Alternate Logo of the Year award from sportslogos.net. “The alternate jersey that accompanied this logo is my favorite project I’ve worked on,” he says.

He also designed the original branding for Seventy-Two Tavern and Grill and Kookie’s Q, the rebrand of Babe’s at Harbor Point, as well as the logo and branding for the Utica City Football Club arena soccer team. When the Comets became the affiliate of the New Jersey Devils, Kowiatek also did the rebrand of the logos to reflect that change.

After getting some more responsibilities and gaining respect for his decisions, Kowiatek kept getting promoted in title and responsibility. Now, he’s the vice president of creative services, and he does much more than graphic design.

“I say I’m a graphic designer…but really I’m involved in pretty much everything when it comes down to it, whether it be helping corporate partners on sponsorship and activation, or game presentation,” he says. “During games, I’m sitting in the production room running the video board with a whole bunch of other people.”

eric kowiatekKowiatek grew up loving hockey—its speed and intensity and fun.

“To actually get to work in the sport that I grew up loving in the town that I grew up in, that is one of the most awesome parts,” he says. “Nothing beats a game day when I’m on headset. From spotlights to game presentation, director, replay operator, the producer sitting next to me—that’s the most fun.

He says working in sports is a big commitment, but he loves being at the forefront of so many positive changes in the area. “The passion for working for Utica, the hometown team, is what keeps me going,” he says.

That hometown passion extends to his experience at MVCC. He says he always recommends MVCC to his nieces and nephews as a great place to get started in college. “The classes there are just as good as you’re going to get everywhere else and the professors are amazing,” he recalls.

Kowiatek says that especially for those in the design field, MVCC is a great place to get the experience needed to get a job. “There’s a lot that you can do at MV that can help you build up a portfolio that you can then turn around and show to other people and show your experience,” he says. “When you can actually show a portfolio of work or show a resume that has experience, that’s what really matters these days more than the four-year degrees.”