Studying graphic design technology makes sense for Twin Cities musician
Minnetonka native, Eric Kratochvil, 44, plays guitar for Rhino, a five-member, party rock band based in the Twin Cities. Known for high-energy shows, a signature, full-band drum solo, and a song list that includes modern, alternative, 80s, classic rock and country music, Rhino has nearly 30 performances scheduled, including several outdoor shows, from May to September 2014. Eric is also graduating from Dakota County Technical College this semester with an A.A.S. degree in Graphic Design Technology. Combine that with the 2014 Visual Communications Portfolio Show in May, a major event for all VCOM grads-to-be, and that means Eric is having a very busy spring.
“I have been doing the graphic design work for Rhino promotional materials,” said Eric, who also handles the band’s website and Facebook page. “I got caught up in the work and decided I would take it further.”
Eric has been making his living as a professional musician since graduating from Hopkins High School in 1988. Heading for college was a major sea change so he definitely needed to choose the right institution. He looked into the Graphic Design Technology program at DCTC and discovered that the curriculum had what he needed. He also liked that the campus is nearby and tuition is affordable.
“The program teaches you how to apply fundamental design techniques,” Eric said. “You also learn how to use design software like Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. One of my goals was to become very good with the software programs. The instructors know their stuff and have solid artistic backgrounds. Many are artists in their own right.”
One added benefit for Eric was finding out that he really likes photography. “I took an Intro to Photography course and loved it,” he said. Equipped with his newfound knowledge, he bought a Canon Rebel T3i and enjoys shooting outdoor naturescapes, especially around the North Shore of Lake Superior.
Connie Larson, one of Eric’s graphic design instructors, appreciates his work ethic and commitment to completing first-rate projects. “Self-motivation is essential for success,” Connie said. “Eric is a great example that personal initiative will help you reach your goals. He’s a success story!”
Eric’s design work
Eric is looking forward to exploring the world of freelance graphic design after he graduates. He sees a range of networking opportunities in the music industry and likes the idea of merging the two worlds. “The band is my priority because that’s how I make my living,” he said, “but I need to plan for a career beyond rock-‘n’-roll. Graphic design is the perfect fit.”
Eric resides in Bloomington, Minn., with Lisa Ahrens, his significant other of eight years. Eric and Lisa have two cats, Mr. Fluffy Von Puffinstien, 4, a 16-pound longhair hybrid, and The Beef, 5, a massive Russian Blue who weighs more than Mr. Fluffy.