2012 Bethany graduate Ruth Wels in her office

Graduate leads team of illustrators for NFL Social Lab

Bethany Lutheran College alumna Ruth Wels (’12) is taking her BLC education to an ever-increasing-in-size national audience. Wels has been working as the lead illustrator for the NFL Social Lab. She’s part of the team that creates content for the league’s social channels, which includes @NFL and @TheCheckdown as well as a few other accounts on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Wels heads up the illustration team which includes four other artists, and simply put, their work is amazing.

When Wels was initially hired by the NFL as a freelancer, she was generating other types of content. But when they found out she could draw; she began to create playful and clever illustrations. The NFL social platforms continue to post all sorts of content, but among those content types illustration is highly engaging—often more so than a photograph. For example, an illustration Ruth created of Tom Brady is the NFL’s most liked Instagram post of all time, reaching well over 1,000,000 likes.

These illustrations are beautifully stylized and rich in detail, which is Wels’ favorite part of the job. She works with her team in a room equipped with state-of-the-art monitors and several TVs so they don’t miss any of the action on game day. Wels was a casual Minnesota Vikings fan before she landed this job and never expected to know so much about the NFL. In addition to the stories she’s telling for the fans, she is able to put herself into the work.

“Sometimes it still hits me how crazy it is that I get to draw for a living. I honestly never thought I’d be able to do that.”

Ruth’s illustrations aren’t just appreciated by the fans. She has met a couple of the players featured in her work—Cam Jordan (Saints) and Derrick Henry (Titans)—who complimented her creations.

To see more work by Wels and her team, take a look at Ruth’s website, and check out the illustration section on the NFL Social Lab website nflsociallab.com and follow one of the NFL’s accounts on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.