20 Questions with Juan Carlos Morales

Endicott’s newest design professor on art, happiness, and … sharks.

Juan Carlos Morales Photo by David Le
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As the self-professed “nerdy kid who was always in trouble,” Juan Carlos Morales grew up wanting to play music and make art. After moving from Colombia to Massachusetts with his family at age 5, he found himself frequently doodling “Jetsons-type stuff” while wondering what the future might look like. That forward-thinking mindset eventually led him into a life of creative risk-taking—first, through a marketing and branding career with top-tier agencies and brands like VH1 and Sonos, and then by launching his own firm, Fabrika Studio. After falling in love with teaching, Endicott may be his boldest creative risk yet—since joining the full-time faculty in September 2021, he’s been inspired to push the envelope with avant-garde course activities, design binges, and multidisciplinary projects that teach graphic designers how to rely on creative thinking and problem solving, instead of “just” software.

What’s something no one knows about you? 
I’ve been in open water with a shark and no, it’s not cool.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? 
Helping raise two daughters.

Where is your next vacation? 
Hopefully, back to Italy. 

For what in your life are you most grateful? 
Two parents who gave up everything and had nothing, for years, to bring me to this country.

Whom do you most admire?
My uncle Mario. I wish I had realized it before he passed a few months ago. He was one of those kind, gentle souls that devoted his life to building a church and helping other people while never asking for anything in return.  

What’s your idea of perfect happiness? 
The small moments where laughter, conversation, and music make me forget about deadlines, bills, taxes, and all the dumb stuff I obsess about the rest of the time.

Juan Carlos Morales

What food do you crave the most? 
Chinese food.

What’s your favorite song? 
Seriously? Impossible question…
Driving: “Back in Black” by AC/DC
Working: Brothertiger’s version of “This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)”
Chilling: John Mayer’s live version of “Free Fallin’”

What song are you embarrassed to love? 
The “don’t get fancy, just get dancy” song.

What movie haunts you? 
Anything with sharks in it. 

If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who is it? 
Dinner with Michelangelo then drinks with Leonardo da Vinci.

What’s your motto? 
Not one for mottos but this week, if I had to pick, I’d double down on “don’t get fancy, just get dancy.”

What are three adjectives you’d use to describe Endicott? 
Different. Intimate. People-oriented. 

Where is your favorite spot on campus? 
The lobby of the VPAC. It feels like a cozy little modern museum.

What’s your favorite city in the world? 

Most embarrassing moment in your career?
I misspelled “Chi-Chi Rodriguez” (with a q) on the poster and program for a fundraising golf tournament named after, you guessed it, Chi-Chi Rodriguez. 

Who are your biggest inspirations/influences?
Cipe Pineles, Saul Bass, and Charley Harper. Prolific men and women who redefined what was possible—in so many areas related to graphic design—without the help of anything digital.

Favorite museum?
The Louvre.

What’s a book you think everyone should read?
The Agony and the Ecstasy, a biographic novel of Michelangelo by Irving Stone.

Any words of advice for a graduating senior? 
You’ll come across people that act like the world owes them something. Avoid them. Instead, surround yourself with passionate people who give their time and money to help others. Find ways to work with them, to be with them, because with these people you can eat, drink, laugh, and cry.