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Representative and Studio Manager
Michael Hersrud graduated with an MFA in Graphic Design from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 2006. He is currently an Associate Professor at VCUArts in Qatar — an international division of VCU School of the Arts and part of Qatar Foundation, and has been working and living in Doha, Qatar for over 9 years. Michael grew up in Minnesota and has worked as a freelance designer and digital graphic artist for 20+ years. He has exhibited work and/or presented research in the United States, Spain, Switzerland, Qatar, Dubai, Bangkok and Brazil. Michael’s academic work and student projects can be viewed at ‘academic.michaelhersrud.com’.
The foundation of Michael’s design practice in an exploration of graphic forms, patterns and shapes that can be remixed to create new graphic vocabularies and syntactic relationships. The work is generated using algorithmic and systematic drawing procedures, and through ‘intuitive accidents’ by misusing common digital tools and pushing limits of programmatic features and effects. His color schemes come from an obsession with gradients, layers, transparency, and superimposition. His print work often pushes the limits of printable color space by exploring relationships between RGB and CMYK. The work itself is mostly created using vector drawing, not raster, which enables the unique ability of scalability.
Although his studio practice requires rigorous iterative processes, careful editing, and attention to detail, the work often brings into question the relationship between the hand of the maker and automated digital tools. The final outcomes are realized and produced with a variety of exploratory print processes, mostly using high-end inkjet printers with speciality papers and fabrics, but also Risograph, serigraphy, pen-plotter drawing and other exploratory print techniques.
Growing up in the 80’s, and emerging as a designer in the mid-90’s and early 2000’s, Michael’s aesthetics and design practice were heavily influenced by visual languages at that time (now being recycled and remixed), and by the ever changing role of technology in print design practice (his first poster was created using an Apple IISi and stat camera). His early work mixed digital designs with traditional letterpress and screen printing techniques, which can still be seen as an influence in the his work today. Overtime, his practice moved away from hands-on processes and more toward digital production, and evolved from a communicative intent to more open poetic interpretations of form.
In recent years Michael’s travels have lead him to experience and examine many new cultures and visual languages; the complexity of Moorish designs in Spain; Dutch wax prints in Ghana; traditional Khaleeji patterns in the Gulf region; woven textiles in Peru; and the design paper currency from around the world. In some unique manifestation, the mash-up of all of these distinct influences becomes the fuel for his current graphic experiments.
Currently, Michael has one foot as a practicing graphic artist, and one foot in academics. Throughout 2018, Michael has been developing a new body of experimental drawings, while producing several new series of graphic work for large format prints, textiles and conceptual products. He is also collaborating with a small team of designers on a project that will be exhibited in Tokyo in early 2019, and a neon light project that is currently in progress.
Academically, he has spent the past two years engaging with a team of faculty members to completely rethink and reshape design curricula; he has consulted with the university to develop better systems of print production; and he has mentored 70+ students to engage in contextual and cultural design research. He has also redesigned a graphic design history course that investigates ‘now and then’ with different weekly themes employing an activated learning & research environment, instead of a chronological lecture-based approach.
Michael is a member of People of Print, College Art Association, and the AIGA.
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