Artist Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson is a communication art and design instructor at Alexandria (Minn.) Technical College. He is a native Minnesotan and principal behind Paul Johnson Design & Illustration. Johnson received his education from Minnesota State University Moorhead and was previously employed for 13 years as corporate artist at Banner Health System, Fargo, N.D.
Earlier, he worked as graphic designer for David Hetland, former artist of the Christmas Concert murals for 28 years.
Johnson currently lives in Pelican Rapids, Minn., with his wife, Carole, and children, Andy and Trudy.
Here are some of Johnson's thoughts on collaborating on the 2009 Christmas Concert:
Q: Please share your memories of working with David Hetland on previous Christmas Concert murals.
A: I learned many things from David, but the thing I learned most, I use still today in every project I work on—to "push" myself as far as I can. Every time I brought work to David for his OK, he would usually give it back and say, "push it." That meant take it to the next level, go further in my concepts, design, illustration, whatever. I now use the same phrase with my students. Never settle but always strive for more. Push it.
Q: What has been the greatest challenge associated with creating an artwork of this size?
A: Several things. First, producing something that represents the great music that will be heard. Also, people expect great visual reward— what David brought to the concert every year. That's a lot of pressure but, I really feel David would be the first to encourage me if he were here — that helps. From a technical side, just making sure the images on my computer transfer to the panels. It's relatively new technology so I worry a bit about that.
Q: What is your hope as a visual artist for those experiencing the Moorhead Christmas Concerts?
A: People will have goose bumps from the music alone. It literally will touch the inner soul of the people present. I just want to complement the music in every way so when people feel the music, the art becomes part of that experience. It is a great responsibility and honor to try and distribute the spirit of Christmas to everyone at the concert.