Chris Hajny: 100 Creatives
Number 72: Chris Hajny
Years spent living in MN: 11 years
Originally from Stoughton, WI, Chris Hajny moved to Minneapolis to attend Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Since graduating, the artist has built quite an interesting and varied resume, including illustrative work for City Pages, l'etoile magazine, and 3x3 magazine; commercial product design for Target Corporation, Department 56, and the History Channel; and gig posters for Sandbox Theatre. As a designer for Paper Bicycle and drawl graphic, Hajny has created stationary, packaging, and many other colorful items. Additionally, fans of local art may also recognize his work from gallery shows at the Soo Visual Art Center or his contributions to Black and White Book [Volume Number One], a collaborative art book.
Name three things that are inspiring your work right now:
1. My pets. I have a lot of pets, more pets than I should. But they are my love and joy. I love drawing all my cats. The dogs come with me to the studio everyday and are a welcome break during late night crunches.
2. Music. It's cliche, but I love music and I can't work on anything without it. I'm not picky and I love to dance, so it's not uncommon for impromptu dance parties break out in the studio.
3. My wife, Lindsay Nohl. Not only is she my wife, but she's my most rad friend and co-worker. And boss, I guess. She's more talented and ambitious than anyone I know. Besides starting up Paper Bicycle, she teaches at MCAD and has an insatiable creative appetite. Without her I'd probably just stay in bed and play video games all day.
Name three things that inspired and/or motivated you as a budding creative type:
1. Comic books. I'm not a comic-guy by any means, so don't test my knowledge. But I've been buying comics since I was a kid and it was a big reason I started drawing in the first place. I used to buy terrible garbage that I'd be embarrassed to admit these days, but it inspired me to draw, so it's not all bad.
2. Printmaking. I stumbled into a printmaking class my freshman year at MCAD (intaglio, no less) almost by accident, but I fell in love. I was really into it for a number of years but I don't have the time or patience to do it as much as I'd like. The look and feel of various printmaking techniques have definitely influenced my work over the years.
3. Creative friends. I was lucky enough to find a couple of like-minded people in my tiny hometown of Stoughton, Wisconsin. With some friends to share with, I became a lot more passionate about making art. Even today, all my friends are artists and creative professionals, which is a big deal to keep me going.
What was your last big project?
Earlier this year I took an amazing trip to Iceland. Lindsay and I rented a jeep and drove around the country for 8 days with no schedule and no place to stay planned out. It's an insanely beautiful and bizarre landscape and I took a ton of photos, It inspired me to start a series of illustrations using those photos as a starting point and combining them with drawing and painting. So far I've only finished a couple, but I expect it to be a fairly large ongoing project.
What do you have going on now or coming up in the near future that should be on our radar?
The problem with doing product design and stationery is that our work doesn't hit the market for a year or so after we do it. By the time it's out in the world, we're on to something else. Walking into Target and saying "Oh yeah! I made that! I forgot" is a pretty common experience.
But I will have a collaborative poster in Art Crank on April 2. That should be a ton of fun!
Creative/career high point (so far)?
I feel like right now is pretty good. Together with my wife Lindsay and friend Francesca Buchko, our company Paper Bicycle has been growing a lot, getting busier and more epic.
I've been focused on the product design side of work lately, but this year I'm hoping to participate in more shows again and do a lot of awesome projects. I'm super excited for that. I think this year is going to be a good one.
What has been your biggest challenge as an artist?
This is easy: time. Time is always the hardest part for me. I've been doing freelance illustration and product design for years and the only thing I've ever really struggled with is time. I wish there were more hours in the day, more days in the week, and more weeks in the year.
How has the local scene changed since you began your career?
It's gotten a lot bigger from my perspective. I came to Minnesota to go to Minneapolis College of Art and Design. I didn't really know anyone, so MCAD was the only scene I knew for a while. When I finished school and started working with more people and participating in more shows, I kept finding more and more pockets of talent. I'm sure it was there all along, I just didn't know where to look.
Which of your characters do you feel best represents your current state of mind?
This image (pictured right) sums up how I feel today: excited and eager to please, but so busy that I kind of feel like I'm going to burst.
If you had to live in the world of a Saturday morning cartoon, which show would you choose and why?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! TMNT! I was on the fringe of class all through school and when I was really young I was convinced becoming a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, would solve all my problems for good.
Do you have a suggestion for someone whose work we should be checking out? Feel free to leave your top picks in the comments.
Past creatives, so far:
81. Joseph Scrimshaw
80. Adam Turman
79. Raul Osorio
78. Kristin Berwald
77. Rudy Fig
76. Laura Fulk
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about arts and culture events in Minneapolis & St. Paul and offers you won't hear about anywhere else.