Eric Carlson
BFA in Graphic Design
Freelance Artist and Designer

Where are you originally from and how did you hear about MCAD?

Mostly—Milaca, Minnesota. I first heard of MCAD staying with my older brother’s friends after a concert. They lived on the corner of third and twenty-sixth and it was the first time I recall eating goat cheese. They moved out when MCAD bought the building, and as a freshman a few years later I ended up living on the top floor with a view of the skyline. This was before the MIA expansion; I had a landline, and I could read the time and temperature off the TCF tower.

How do you feel about the Twin Cities?


What was your major and how did you choose it?

Graphic design. I was split between fine arts studio and design, but was ultimately compelled by the tools, process, and dialogue of the design department at the time and found I could take enough classes outside of the major to achieve the balance between the two I was looking for. 

Who was your favorite teacher and why?

Karen Wirth challenged me to find a lot within that I hadn't tapped into yet; Akagawa's endless poetry of thought; Santiago's !#%~$& passion; Murphy, Byrne, and Ibarra made design fun... and real. 

Best thing you ever got/saw on the free shelf?

I left a pile of treasure there when I moved to NYC. 

Describe your internship.

My internship was with Aesthetic Apparatus, a design and screenprinting studio making gig posters and working with bands and venues. We listened to music and I cleaned a lot of screens. The experience was a perfect foundation for much of what I've gone on to do in my own practice. Beyond seeing the inner workings of a small studio, which was important, their approach to image making has stuck with me—generous trapping and using seemingly chaotic interactions of layers to beautiful effect. 

Your biggest takeaway from MCAD?

Still work all the time. Still not a morning person. 

Describe what you do for work and how you feel about it.

I make drawings, paintings, and collect material. I organize these things into bodies of work for a variety of outputs. I collaborate with artists and musicians in a similar way. I feel like I'm doing what I'm meant to do. 

How did you get your job? 

Relentlessly did it. 

What inspires you?

Language; nature; unknowables; habit/ritual.

How do you network yourself and your art?

Be present and interested. Use the internet. Be active in your community (in so many different scales). 

Current obsession?