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Graphic artist and philanthropist

Ronald “Ron” J. Castro (1954 – ) is an artist known for his graphic design talents as well as his altruistic endeavors assisting several non-profit and volunteer organizations for civic causes.

Castro is one of nine children of Juan D. and Magdalena DLG Castro. The family lived in Tamuning and left Guam in 1965 as Castro’s father was a military member stationed in Europe. Castro graduated from Torrejon American High School in 1973 in Madrid, Spain. He later graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 1976 with a degree in Specialized Technology. While at the Pennsylvania school he majored in visual communications and took coursework in airbrush, graphic design, illustration, oil painting, photography and typography.

Today, Castro is one of the island’s foremost graphic artists but, before computer-assisted graphic design revolutionized the graphics industry, he began designing when ads were manually prepared by putting pieces together with rubber cement, color overlays, photostatic copies and typesetting. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he worked as art director for the Pacific Sunday News (Pacific Daily News, Sunday Edition) Islander Magazine; then at Garrison & Associates, until moving to Richmond, Virginia, and working for Csaky & Associates Advertising, Inc.

When Castro returned to Guam from Virginia in 1983, he and his wife, Mary, started Island Type & Art. They were the first on island to offer photo-typesetting, graphic design and illustration services to advertising agencies, and offered full service production of camera-ready art. This professional experience led to the expansion of advertising services and the formation of the Castro Ad Group with eleven employees offering full advertising services including print, radio and television commercials.

In 2005, Castro was the Nissan Guam Marketing Manager and, in addition to his job of creating the advertising for Nissan, he was responsible for coordinating art exhibits in the Infiniti Art Gallery, which is in the showroom of the Tamuning auto dealership. Before becoming Nissan’s marketing manager, Castro handled the advertising for Nissan via Castro Ad Group and Galaide Group for 17 years. His other business ventures include being the owner of Castro Art Studio; president of Island Type & Art, Inc., and is a founding partner and creative director for Galaide Group, LLC.

As a Galaide Group partner and advertising director, Castro is helping the Guam Visitors Bureau with the Guam brand campaign, including designing wall murals for the island’s nineteen villages that depict the uniqueness of each district. He designed the inaugural village mural in Mangilao that launched the campaign and showed island mayors what they could potentially do with their murals.

For more than 40 years, Castro’s artwork has been featured in dozens of art exhibits including the Guam Humanities Council, National Endowment for the Humanities, Picturing America, Picturing Guam in February 2011; Infiniti Art Gallery, Cultural Dimensions, March 2010; and the 8th Pacific Festival of Arts, New Caledonia, October 2000, to name a few. He has also been recognized for his talents with various awards, including the Governor’s Art Award for Visual/Media Arts and Graphics in 1989 and 1992.

Over the years, Castro has done much to share his knowledge of art. From 2004 to 2007 he was a visual communications adjunct instructor at the Guam Community College, where he taught Elements and Principles of Design. He has also contributed to the documentation of Chamorro history, and has been actively involved in several projects providing designs for Legacy of Guam: I Kustumbren Chamoru by Pulitzer Prize Winner Manny Crisostomo in 1991; and Seeing Guam Through Our Eyes – Prose, Poetry and Imagery Celebrating A Sense of Place by Jillette Leon-Guerrero in 2010.

One of Castro’s most notable projects was as the designer and researcher for “A Tribute to Masters of Chamorro Tradition” poster series, which are seen adorning the walls of several government of Guam agencies. The series was produced in the mid- to late-1990s. For three years, Castro devoted his time and talent to interviewing and photographing the masters and their crafts.

Through his work and activities one can see that Castro tries to “add that local flavor” and lives by a mantra, “the creative mind never stops ticking.” There are not enough hours in a day to do all the things that he would like to do, as evidenced by activities that he and his wife, Mary, participate in – mostly as volunteers and board members – such as with the Guam Girl Scouts, the Guam Women’s Club, Guam Humanities Council, Guam Council of Women’s Clubs, Traditions Affirming our Seafaring Ancestors (TASA), Traditions About our Seafaring Islands (TASI), Pa’a Taotao Tano, the Guam Special Olympics, and the Guam Council on the Arts & Humanities Agency (CAHA).

While raising their family, Castro and his wife were always involved in their activities. Now that their children – Roque, Aaron, and Selina – are grown, the couple’s philanthropic activities remain.

Beyond graphic arts and altruistic deeds, Castro is a gifted artist whose other interests include oil paint, watercolor, pen and ink drawings, calligraphy, carving wooden canoes, free form wood sculpture, foam carving, and his latest – fiberglass models.

By Tanya M. Champaco Mendiola

For further reading

Guam Council on the Arts and Humanities Agency. “Artists – Guam CAHA.”

Humanities Guåhan. Picturing Guam Teachers Resource Book. Hagåtña: HG, 2011.

I Manfayi: Who’s Who in Chamorro History. VoI. 3. The Hale’-ta Series. Hagåtña: Department of Chamorro Affairs, Division of Research, Publication, and Training, 2002.

Leon-Guerrero, Jillette. Seeing Guam Through Our Eyes. Agana Heights: Guamology Publishing, 2010.