Eric Benson


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 His work with Re-nourish translated into an academic career where he currently is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design and Responsible Innovation at the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign. 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.

Looking forward to 2023, are you optimistic about the role and impact of Graphic Design and Visual Communication in Business? Culture? Causes? Why do you feel that way? Have the events and disruptions of the past few years changed the role or trajectory of Graphic Design?

I am certain that Graphic Design will continue to be useful for business and hopeful that it will trend toward more positive social and environmental impacts. I’ve been working in sustainability since 2004, and have seen progress, but it’s been too slow considering the risks climate change poses. I have seen better steps forward by graphic designers in DEI work, however. That makes me optimistic for 2023 and beyond.

Most influential graphic designer(s) or art directors(s) of the past 60 years? Of today?

Milton Glaser and Shepard Fairey

Most influential graphic design firm(s), ad agency(s), or inhouse department(s) of the past 60 years? Of today?

Pentagram, Wieden + Kennedy, and Firebelly Design

Favorite or most influential logo or branding project of the past 60 years?


Favorite or most influential design project or campaign in any medium for the past 60 years? Package, poster, website, ad, publication or motion design, etc.

2008 Obama Presidential Campaign

Most influential design products, services, or technology of the past 60 years?

Personal Computer, the internet, iPhone, Artificial Intelligence, Solar Glass, Streaming Media, and mRNA