Q&A with UMD artist Mitchell Ringness

BY APRILL EMIG | The Statesman Why did you choose graphic design?

Well, I was a major in English for a little bit when I was at Northwestern, but then I switched majors to graphic design. I took a graphic design course in high school. I went to Pine City, which is a really small town, so my shop teacher was also the yearbook teacher and was also an art teacher. I really got into it that year and it kind of spurred forward everything I have done up until now—just taking a random class.


You take photos as well, correct?

Yeah, that’s actually what got me started.


So how long have you been taking photos?

I started getting into photography a lot my junior or sophomore year of high school. That was just a hobby that wasn’t making any money; I just did it whenever I had time to. Then it spurred me on to doing graphic design because I could edit my pictures on PhotoShop, which they had on the school computer. So in turn I learned how to use Photoshop, and that’s what I am now really knowledgeable about.

"Earth" by Mitchell Ringness

What’d you submit for the student art exhibit?

I submitted pieces I created on Photoshop completely from scratch. I made this template of lines. I took this one picture and I turned it into four different pictures embodying the four different elements: air, earth, water and fire. That was all done on Photoshop.


So there weren’t any images you had already and used for the project?

Nope, I just made everything from scratch. That’s what I try to do now, I try to do everything from scratch with my designs. I try not to have anything corrupting my creation.

"Air" by Mitchell Ringness

Can you walk me through the process of creating these four images?

First, they weren’t all created at the same time. They’re in close proximity of each other. For example, I made fire first, and that’s my personal favorite. Then I made water, then air. But I was stuck on Earth for the longest time. I like to go out and free my mind. I like to go on walks a lot, kind of separate myself from everyone else, maybe listen to music. You can’t really force it, it just happens. I always say to myself ‘follow my heart,’ that’s kind of my saying. It’s a little nerdy catchphrase that I spit out at work and school and try to do it with my art because I feel like art is your placement, your perspective, your philosophy of how you view the world. I try to incorporate that in my work. A lot of my stuff has been following themes of eyes lately, I’ve noticed. I’ve just had a fixation on the ocular sense I guess, I don’t know really why. I get a lot of inspiration from the real world and I’ll try to put a spin on it from my interpretation, my perspective on it.

"Fire" by Mitchell Ringness

You mentioned that when you first started it was just a hobby and you weren’t making any money. Are you making money from your art now?

I am starting to branch out and actually make things for people. I just made the Bar-B-Queer poster for the Duluth-Superior PRIDE fest. I did a lot of senior pictures, I did a wedding photoshoot, but I’m not really into marketing myself. I hate selling myself out, it’s my biggest pet peeve, I don’t like to advertise myself. I’m fine with advertising other people, but I don’t like to bring that into my personal life.


Speaking of advertising, what are your post-college goals?

I want to go into advertising firm, a big one, a reputable one. Start from the bottom and make my way up. If I had a dream job it would be just making art. I wouldn’t go into advertising, but I’ve gotta look at it from a practical perspective. I’ve got to have a plan B, C, D. First, I have to get an internship because they’re super crucial to being able to get a good job in the graphic design field because it’s so competitive.


Would you still try to pursue your own art on the side?

Definitely. It’s a big thing that drives me, it’s what got me started in this field. I’m never going to stop.

"Water" by Mitchell Ringness


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