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Chair, Graphic Design Program at University of Illinois at U...
Eric Benson was born in Arizona and raised in Mid-Michigan where he later received his BFA in graphic and industrial design from the University of Michigan in 1998. He worked professionally as a UI/UX designer at Razorfish and Texas Instruments before he received his MFA in design from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006. His MFA thesis became the internationally recognized and award-winning sustainable design website www.re-nourish.com. His work with Re-nourish translated into an academic career where he currently is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research and teaching at Illinois laid the foundation to create the Fresh Press Agri-Fiber Paper Lab. Fresh Press explores the potential of papermaking to be zero waste, environmentally sustainable, and a catalyst for a thriving local economy. Benson has published and lectured internationally on the importance of sustainable design. His work has also garnered numerous design awards and has been seen in notable venues like The Walker Art Center, the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, the Hammer Museum, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and RISD. He is also an active participant in the national design scene and local Champaign community serving on the AIGA Design Educators Community and on the board of directors at 40North and Common Ground Food Co-op.
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.
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.
Teach and Research
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.
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."
Research and Teach
Working with eleven other American Design educators to reinforce the importance of sustainability and social responsibility in graphic design education at the university level.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Illustration and layout for telecom print collateral.
2006 Foresight Design Award Winner 2004-2005 Deans Fellowship 2005-2006 The Susan Vaughan Foundation Endowed Scholarship
1998 Palazzo Memorial Award winner for Industrial Design