Driven to Design
Jun 13, 2019 02:41PM
By Sarah Wengert
Camden Johnson is here to break down the right brain/left brain barrier.
The divide between creatives and analytical types completely fails in light of Johnson’s dual passions of art and engineering. Johnson creates stark, stirring, eclectic black-and-white graphic art under the moniker VECxTOR. He also graduated from University of Nebraska at Omaha in May 2019 with his master’s degree in architectural engineering, and an emphasis on lighting and electrical design.
“It just naturally comes together for me,” Johnson says of his passion for art and engineering.
Johnson became interested in art around age 10, continued to pursue art classes and dabble in design programs throughout high school, and originally thought he might pursue a career in graphic design.
“I took art throughout high school,” he says. “I did ceramics, took some graphic design, and other art classes.”
His interest in engineering was also sparked when he attended Omaha North High School, an engineering magnet.
“I took an engineering elective all four years at North and really enjoyed the architectural engineering side of it, so I thought I’d pursue that as an occupation,” Johnson says. “I enjoy that it’s very design-oriented, but also very technical-oriented. The two subjects I excel at most are art and math, and it’s a good mix of both.”
While he produces limited commission work, Johnson considers his VECxTOR output more of a hobby. He also considers it an important “creative outlet where I can do whatever I want creatively and work in a lot of different styles.”
“I’m always coming back to digital art because it’s fun, and also to learn new programs and methods,” Johnson says. “My art’s gone through many different styles because I’m always finding different tools and programs to use.”
While he enjoys doing work in various styles, he maintain his black-and-white theme.
“I started out doing very minimal geometric designs, just vector illustrations, and as I grew as an artist and used different programs, I continued with the black-and-white thing,” Johnson says. “My art is really eclectic in terms of style, so the black-and-white theme ties it together.”
Johnson says that minimalist approach translates well to his lighting design work.
“Lighting design definitely also has that more minimalist feel, just because that’s modern aesthetics,” he says. “I took a lighting design class last year where we had to do conceptual sketches, and a lot of times I’d just take some of my minimal art and use that as a concept of what the lighting design could be developed from.”
Johnson’s main area of interest, when it comes to architectural engineering, is lighting design, and he says it’s actually not that unusual for a right brain/left brain barrier breaker like himself to gravitate toward that specialty.
“At least in my class, students going into lighting design were the ones who were more artistic—it’s definitely the more artistic side of engineering,” he says. “Most structural or mechanical students don’t have a more art-focused mind, whereas people doing lighting design, you kind of need an artistic mind to go into that, but also to have the technical knowledge to design and incorporate it all. That technical part involves the power needed for a space, lighting levels, safety regulations—things like that—where the design side involves how it looks, what kind of emotion it should evoke in the space, and how people move through the space.”
After a year-long internship at Engineering Technologies, Inc. (ETI) and his May graduation, Johnson accepted a full-time job at ETI and is now putting his dynamic design skills to good use.
Visit instagram.com/vecxtor to check out Johnson’s VECxTOR work.This article was printed in the July/August 2019 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.