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Eric A. Johnson

The youngest of six children, Eric A. Johnson was raised on a farm near Embden, North Dakota.  He graduated from Chaffee High School in 1991 with no formal art training.  An introductory art class at North Dakota State University sparked an interest in creating and Johnson dove in, taking all the art classes he could.  After several years of study Johnson decided to focus on sculpture, but ultimately found that printmaking was his true passion.  He especially took to the reduction relief print technique, which was developed by Pablo Picasso in the 1950s and uses one plate to create a multicolored print instead of using one plate for each color. Johnson used this technique to complete a series of sixteen reduction relief prints in his last semester at NDSU, earning his degree in art in 1997.  

In 1998 he began his studies at the University of North Dakota’s Master of Fine Arts program. During his studies at UND he began his ongoing series of Cityscapes, inspired by recollections of his first visits to Chicago and New York City.  By the time Johnson completed the program in 2001, it was clear that he had found his forte with printmaking, creating another stunning series of reduction relief prints. 

Over the last ten years Johnson has created well over 150 prints and has exhibited extensively in over fifty regional and national exhibitions, proving to be one of the region’s most prolific artists.  Eric’s unique use of color, especially apparent in his prints, is one reason his work is sought after by art collectors and corporate collections around the region.  In a recent article in Professional Artist magazine, Louise Buyo described Johnson’s prints as “[b]right and emotionally expressive, with loose lines that turn buildings and streets into more organic forms, Johnson’s prints portray the city as a channel of changing mood.”   

Johnson served as coordinator for the North Dakota Governor’s School’s Visual Arts program from 2011-2013, and is a current member and former board member of the FMVA (Fargo-Moorhead Visual Artists). A traveling exhibition of 58 of his prints from 1998-2009 exhibited in over 10 cities throughout North Dakota and Montana concluded in 2012 after traveling for two years.

Currently Johnson is an adjunct instructor of art at Minnesota State Community and Technical College (Detroit Lakes, Moorhead, & Wadena, MN), North Dakota State University (Fargo, ND), and Mayville State University (Mayville, ND). 

Johnson continues his involvement with the NDSU Art Department and P.E.A.R.S (Printmaking Education and Research Studio) as an Artistic Development Resident, and has served as Master Printer through the program for editions by Canadian painter Ken Dalgarno and artist Star Wallowing Bull. 

He continues to create and exhibit new work in printmaking, painting, sculpture, and ceramics and hopes to set up his own printmaking studio (Big Oak Press) near his home he shares with his wife Dera and sons Ethan and Emmett.  

Artist Statement

"Printmaking is not known for being a spontaneous art form.  In fact, many would say that without planning one is asking for failure in any of the printmaking techniques (lithography, intaglio, relief, and screen print).  I have been working with 'unplanned' or 'automatic' images for the last 18 years.  I am continuing to explore new ways to create printmaking images using automatic drawing and carving as ways to express my subconscious mind."