Named one of Live Design’s “promising young professionals” for 2007, set/costume designer Clint Ramos has certainly lived up to that promise and is one of the leading designers of his generation. His achievement was honored with the TDF/Irene Sharaff Young Master Award, presented on Friday, March 27, at the Hudson Theatre in New York City. The Sharaff Awards are presented annually through Theatre Development Fund's Costume Collection.

“It is a wonderful honor,” says Ramos. “It means that my peers like what I do and that I should keep on doing it. I've always felt that that people never notice, because we are all so busy and there are so many talented young designers out there. Never in my wildest dreams did I even think I'd get a Sharaff.”

As for his favorite projects to date, Ramos names a few: "The Good Negro by Tracey Scott Wilson, which is currently running at the Public Theatre. I designed sets and costumes for the show,” he explains. “Designing the piece was all about distilling grand ideas without losing scope, scale and intensity—it was also about very close collaboration. All the designers have been with the show since it was a workshop so it feels like we also own the piece. Another favorite would be Most Wanted, a musical by Jessica Hagedorn and directed by Michael Greif at the La Jolla Playhouse—it was very close to my heart and at moments the project was really personal. There's more but those two come to mind. It is very rare that I find myself working on a project that does not resonate with what's going on inside me.”

To help create a character or tell a story through his designs, Ramos notes: “It is always starts with an emotional response and then the response becomes a fact finding mission (like a detective story). It's different every time—sometimes you find the answers in old books, a piece of music or right in front of you in the subway.”

Ramos also received a 2008 Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Set Design of a Play for his work on St. John Hankin's The Return of the Prodigal, and a 2007 American Theatre Wing Henry Hewes Award for his designs on Madras House, both at the Mint Theatre. Other such honors include an Audelco Nomination; I.R.N.E. Awards Nominations for Macbeth and Much Ado About Nothing; and a 2003-2005 NYTW Design Fellowship.

In Live Design, he remarked: “I love embracing the architecture of the space. With smaller, funkier spaces in New York (I do a lot of downtown shows), one really needs to be more creative and open about the theatrical structure of the set. Opening up a space and redefining it by playing with audience perspectives is sexier than figuring out what kind of molding is appropriate. I also am in love with the idea of using the building materials as they are, as they come. There is something powerful about not making something look like what it's not.”

Ramos’ recent and current design credits include:

  • Eurydice for Roundhouse Theatre
  • Endgame for American Repertory Theatre
  • Women Beware Women for Red Bull Theatre
  • Una Cosa Rara for Opera Theatre of St. Louis
  • The Good Negro for New York Public Theatre and Dallas Theatre Center
  • Boy’s Life for Second Stage and Three Sisters for Williamstown Theatre Festival (both directed by Michael Grief)
  • King Lear for Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey
  • Twelfth Night for California Shakespeare Festival.
Ramos’ upcoming projects include:
  • Eisa Davis' Angela's Mixtape at New Georges in New York
  • an opera in Philadelphia
  • Il Viaggio A Reims
  • The premier of Tony Kushner’s new work The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures at the Guthrie Theatre