Eric Benson is an award-winning designer, educator at the University of Illinois, published author, activist and international speaker on sustainable design theory and practice. He received his BFA in graphic and industrial design from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1998 and his MFA from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006 (with a concentration in design and social responsibility). His work professionally has been focused on creating enriching digital experiences on the web and environmentally friendly print and packaging material. Benson has provided digital and print work for such clients as: Credit Suisse First Boston, MADD, Texas Instruments, Toyota, the Vanguard Group, and Whole Foods Market. His research is available at www.re-nourish.com, which is the industry’s first truly independent online toolkit for sustainable graphic design. By providing reliable, accessible sustainability tools untethered to commercial interests, Re-nourish empowers graphic designers to implement sustainable decision making in their day-to-day work, helping sustainable graphic design become what design is, not merely what it “could be.”

Work Samples

  • Re-nourish

  • Flyspace

  • Fresh Press

Work History

  • Steering Committee Member

    • AIGA Design Educators Community Steering Committee
    • Jul 2013 - Present (1 year 5 months)

    Since 2004, the AIGA Design Educators Community (DEC) seeks to enhance the abilities of design educators and educational institutions to prepare future designers for excellence in design practice, design theory and design writing at the undergraduate and graduate levels while supporting the fundamental mission of AIGA.

  • Chair, Graphic Design Program

    • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    • Jan 2013 - Present (1 year 11 months)

    Responsible for faculty teaching assignments and the formulation and execution of the curricular concerns of the Program, provide leadership in the long term strategic planning for the Program, represent the Program to other campus units, prospective students and faculty, and others outside the University, report on the teaching and research of the faculty currently teaching courses in the Program, and assist the Division Chair in matters regarding promotion and tenure and the assembling of all relevant recommendations and documents for submission to the Promotion and Tenure Committee.

  • Associate Professor of Graphic Design

    • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    • May 2012 - Present (2 years 7 months)

    Teach and Research

  • Founder

    • Fresh Press
    • Feb 2012 - Present (2 years 10 months)

    Fresh Press is an agri-fiber and agri-fiber waste paper-making lab on the Illinois campus that explores how a collaboration of farmers, artists, designers, and academics can revitalize a slowly dying manufacturing industry in the Midwest.

  • Partner

    • Re-nourish
    • Apr 2006 - Present (8 years 8 months)

    Re-nourish.com is the industry's first truly independent online toolkit for sustainable graphic design. A not-for-profit project providing reliable, accessible sustainability tools untethered to commercial interests, Re-nourish empowers graphic designers to implement sustainable decision making in their day-to-day work. Our mission is nothing short of changing the industry, helping truly sustainable graphic design become what design is, not merely what it "could be."

  • Assistant Professor of Graphic Design

    • University of Illinois
    • Aug 2006 - May 2012 (5 years 9 months)

    Research and Teach

  • Committee Member

    • AIGA Center for Sustainable Design Education Committee
    • Sep 2008 - Sep 2009 (1 year)

    Working with eleven other American Design educators to reinforce the importance of sustainability and social responsibility in graphic design education at the university level.

  • Sustainability Task Force Member

    • AIGA
    • Mar 2006 - Jun 2008 (2 years 3 months)
  • Teaching Assistant

    • University of Texas at Austin
    • Jan 2005 - May 2006 (1 year 4 months)

    I was the Teaching Assistant for Associate Professor Dan Olsen for his course entitled "Visual Syntax". I was responsible for helping Junior level design students improve their work and better clarify problems that developed throughout the process of each project. I was available via my studio, and over email and instant messenger to advise students throughout the semester. I also taught the class through workshops that were directly related to my research for my MFA thesis.

  • Sustainability Co-Chair

    • AIGA Austin
    • 2005 - 2006 (1 year)
  • Design Consultant

    • Whole Foods
    • Aug 2005 - Dec 2005 (4 months)

    My position at Whole Foods is to provide concepting for current and ongoing corporate projects. I am currently in charge of creating the look of the in-store holiday signage and print collateral (recipe books, and organic informational guides). All of the work is printed on 100% post-consumer paper and printed with vegetable inks to keep with the company goals of health and sustainability for our planet.

  • Senior Designer

    • Texas Instruments
    • Mar 2003 - Aug 2004 (1 year 5 months)

    As the Senior Web Designer for education.ti.com, I am continually helping to update the look and functionality of the site. My recommendations to improve the usability and personality of the site are integral to help promote business and department priorities as well as to inform and aid educators in their daily lesson plans. My duties at TI also include creating print advertising, exhibit graphics, and interactive movies.

  • Senior Designer

    • Dawson Duncan
    • Nov 2001 - Mar 2002 (4 months)

    During my brief time spent at this small advertising and marketing company, I worked with clients like Guaranty Bank to design print collateral and advertising campaigns to effectively promote their business image and their products.

  • Senior Designer

    • Razorfish
    • Mar 2000 - Feb 2001 (11 months)

    Razorfish is an internet consultancy based out of NYC. While working as a Senior Web Designer, I designed intranet and internet projects for companies like the Vanguard Group, Credit Suisse First Boston, and Fidelity Investments. I also helped Razorfish maintain and improve new client relationships, through which I developed skills in project management, information architecture, and copywriting.

  • Designer

    • Lexicom Publishing
    • 1999 - 2001 (2 years)

    Illustration and layout for telecom print collateral.

Education

  • The University of Texas at Austin

    • MFA Design Design and Sustainability
    • 2004 - 2006

    2006 Foresight Design Award Winner 2004-2005 Deans Fellowship 2005-2006 The Susan Vaughan Foundation Endowed Scholarship

  • University of Michigan

    • BFA Graphic Design, Industrial Design
    • 1993 - 1998

    1998 Palazzo Memorial Award winner for Industrial Design

  • HH Dow High

    • 1991 - 1993

Specialties

Affiliations

AIGA, CAA

Awards

2013: International Design Award (IDA) Silver winner for Self-Promotion 2009: Communicator Award for “Online Activism”. 2009: Cooper-Hewitt People’s Design Award Finalist. 2009: AIGA (RE)design 3rd Place Winner for “Sustainable Organization”. 2009: American Corporate ID #24 logo winner. 2008: United College Designers Association (UCDA) Gold Merit Award in the category “Going Green.” 2007–2008: Admissions Marketing...
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