Eric Benson

  • Educator, award-winning designer, author, papermaker

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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.org. 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.

Experience

Chair, Graphic Design Program at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Jan. 2013 – Present Champaign, IL

Advises over 150 undergraduate and 9 graduate students, mentors 5 tenure-stream faculty, helps create and manage curricula, and voice/face of program for campus and community.

Co-Founder & Chief Researcher at Fresh Press

Feb 2012 – Present Champaign, IL

Created Fresh Press from the ground up with over $250,000 in grant funding to explore the viability of agri-fiber residue in the commercial paper and packaging markets.

Co-Founder & Principal at Re-nourish, LTD.

April 2006 – Present Tewksbury, MA

Designed and developed Re-nourish as a graduate research project that turned into a 501(c)3 which works to promote systems thinking and sustainable design in graphic design pedagogy and practice. www.re-nourish.org

Associate Professor of Graphic Design at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

May 2012 – Present Champaign, IL

40% Researcher, 40% Teacher, 20% Service to community, campus, college, and school.

Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

August 2006 – May 2012 Champaign, IL

40% Researcher, 40% Teacher, 20% Service to community, campus, college, and school.

Contract Print Designer at Whole Foods Market

Aug 2005 – Dec 2005 Austin, TX

Senior Web Designer at Texas Instruments

March 2002 – Aug 2004 Dallas, TX

Senior Web Designer at Dawson & Duncan

Nov 2001 – March 2002 Dallas, TX

Senior UI/UX Designer at Razorfish

March 2000 – Feb 2001 Cambridge, MA

Graphic Designer at Lexicom Publishing

Dec. 1998 – Feb 2000 Ann Arbor, MI

Education

MFA Design at University of Texas

August 2004 – May 2006 Austin, TX

BFA Graphic & Industrial Design at University of Michigan

August 1993 – May 1998 Ann Arbor, MI

Awards

Merit Award, UCDA

Green Production

(Re)Design Award, AIGA

www.freshpress.studio

Silver Medal, International Design Awards

www.freshpress.studio

Award of Excellence, UCDA

Winner, Poster Heroes

(Re)Design Award, AIGA

www.re-nourish.org

Award of Excellence, 16th Annual Communicator Awards

Activism

Bronze Award Winner, Admissions Marketing Report (AMR)

People’s Design Award Finalist, Cooper-Hewitt

www.re-nourish.org

Winner, American Corporate ID

www.re-nourish.org

Gold Award Winner, Admissions Marketing Report (AMR)

Gold Merit Award, UCDA

Going Green Category

Silver Merit Award, UCDA

Going Green Category

Merit Award Winner, Admissions Marketing Report (AMR)

Mission Sustainability Winner, German Council for Sustainable Development

www.re-nourish.org

First Prize, Foresight Design Initiative

Better Bag Project

Exhibitions

Paper, Paper, Paper Group

Taos Center for the Arts, Encore Gallery Taos, NM

Pulp as Portal: Socially Engaged Hand Papermaking Group - Invited

The Center for Book Arts New York, NY

Also traveled to the Salina Art Center, Salina, Kansas.

Social Paper Group - Invited

Columbia College Chicago, IL

Green Patriot Posters: The Revolution Will Be Designed Group - Invited

Design Museum Boston Boston, MA

Printing Green: American Print Alliance Group

Illges Gallery, Columbus State University Columbus, GA

Graphic Advocacy: International Posters for the Digital Age Group - Invited

University Galleries, MCAD Boston, MA

Also traveled to: Galeria Artis, Seoul National University of Science & Technology, Pratt Manhattan Gallery, McDonough Museum of Art, & Simon I. Patino Gallery.

Graphic Design: Now in Production Group

Walker Art Center Minneapolis, MN

Also traveled to: Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, the Hammer Museum, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and RISD.

The Wearable Arts Awards Group

City Hall Galleria Port Moody, Canada

The Great Oil Leak Show Group

Bricks & Bombs Gallery Baton Rouge, LA

Spill>>Forward Group

MediaNoche New York, NY

Art D’Eco Group

Gallery 125 Trenton, NJ

Hello: Graphic Design Group Invitational Group

University Art Galleries, Univ. of South Dakota Vermillion, SD

Sustainable? Group

Central Connecticut State Univ., Chen Art Gallery New Britain, CT

Live Debris Group

Hangar Gallery of Umam Documentation & Research Beirut, Lebanon

Earth Matters: International Art Exhibit Group

The University of Texas Pan-American Edinburg, TX

The means by which we find our way. A project in two parts Group

Waikato Institute of Technology, Ramp Gallery Hamilton, New Zealand

Sublime Climate Group

Cambridge School of Weston
 Gallery Weston, MA

Global Warming 2007 Group

Orange County Center for Contemporary Art Santa Ana, CA

Other Heroes Group

Jackson State Gallery, Jackson State University Jackson, MS

Subvertisements: Using Ads and Logos for Protest Group

California State Univ., Northridge Art Gallery Northridge, CA

Tossed and Found Group

Outside In Gallery Portland, OR

Became a traveling juried show with exhibitions in Portland galleries 100th Monkey and the Friendly House.

Clients

Toyota, Whole Foods, Vanguard Group, Scholastic, New Leaf Paper

Specialties

Sustainable DesignSystems ThinkingGraphic DesignEducationUser Interface DesignSpeaking