Zander Brimijoin
Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies
Creative Director and Co-Owner of Red Paper Heart

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

I grew up in Rochester, Minnesota, but I was actually living in Northampton, Massachusetts when I applied. My fondness for Minnesota was part of my decision, but I did look at design programs across the country and it was really the work from MCAD that was how I found out about the program.

What was your undergrad degree in?

I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin Madison with a graphic design concentration. 

Favorite MCAD facility?

I spent the most time in the Media Center renting lightstands, cameras, lights—all sorts of stuff I would never have access to. But my favorite was the Shop: 3D printer, drill presses, routers...

What advice do you have for current MCAD students?

Think about how you'll apply your work after MCAD. I didn't think nearly enough about this in school. It's important that you not only do something interesting but that you are able to continue to do it afterward. 

Why did you choose MCAD for your MFA?

I looked at a number of schools but ultimately loved the colorful work coming from students at MCAD and loved the creative community in Minneapolis

What did you enjoy most about your MFA experience?

I had a love-hate relationship with the charettes in the design program. There were interdisciplinary critiques where you learned how to explain yourself outside your own disciplinary bubble. But the best was really hashing it out surrounded by the design faculty. When you nailed it, it was a good feeling. But I still have flashbacks from some pretty rough crits.   

Who was your mentor and what was that relationship like?

My mentor was Piotr Szyhalski. He single-handedly introduced me to interactive installation art which was something I had never even dreamed of before. He had that ability to show me the crazy inspirational stuff, but then give me some very practical tools that allowed me to make more advanced work than my skill level allowed. He was demanding but he also allowed me the freedom to pursue some admittedly ridiculous ideas. He has a good sense of humor.

How do you feel about the Twin Cities?

The Twin Cities is one of my favorite places of all time. I always say it's got many of the cool things that New York has only you can bike to all of them in one night. It's a perfect blend of big city/small city.

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

I create interactive installations for brands and agencies. My goal is to create fun physical experiences with digital technology and animation that allow people to feel wonder—and maybe even find joy in life.  

How do you explain what you do to people outside of the art and design world? 

I make animations that change when you move around in front of them—and yes, I can make a living doing this.

How did you get your job? 

I worked as a designer at various agencies for fifteen years and had always wanted to do something more similar to the work I was doing at MCAD. Finally, I realized the only way to get a job doing what I wanted to do was to create the job myself. I pitched ideas directly to clients and then formed a company around my first few successful projects. 

How do you network yourself and your art?

I go to art and technology conferences both as a speaker and attendee; I try to post in-progress work online and engage other artists I admire; I collaborate a lot with others as well.

What city do you live in?

Hastings on Hudson, New York and I work in Brooklyn, New York.

What inspires your work?

Childhood experiences, video games, and maybe a little human psychology. I love to create experiences that are viscerally fun, have challenges to them, and are essentially a study in human nature. 

Current obsession?

I am currently obsessed with conveyor belts both as a surface to make things on and as an interactive surface.