An Interview with Michael Heffernan

self portrait of, and by Michael Heffernan
 For my Interdisciplinary studies exploration in medical illustration, I interviewed a former professor. He was my favorite teacher at Plymouth State University because of the diverse studies he had us do. He’s a talented artist, and a great teacher, very patient and wise. He was my very first real art teacher outside of middle school classes. He taught me how to draw what I see, not what I think I see. I took quite a few of his classes to get as much knowledge out of him as I could with the years that I have here at Plymouth State.
Due to our busy schedules, I couldn’t find a time to meet in person so e-mail would have to suffice.
I wanted to know what his official title was as a professor, or what different art forms he has taught.
“I teach various 2D ( as in two dimensional) studio art. So painting, drawing, and what is sometimes called Color & Design. I think now we call it 2D design.” My favorite class that I took with him was the figure in value class. In that class we learned how to draw the figure and apply our previous knowledge from our foundation classes. He had us study a bit of anatomy as well, which made me more excited than ever because I wanted to apply my medical knowledge to my art.
Most teachers will tell you that they didn’t quite know what they wanted to do when they got to college or had an idea of what they wanted to do, but no one can guarantee what you end up doing. I wanted to know if he knew what brought him to being a 2D art professor at PSU, so I had asked him where he went to school, and what for.
“I studied art & art history at Colgate University which is a liberal arts college. Then spent more time in art programs to build up my portfolio so I went to Art Center in Pasadena, CA and then SVA in NYC.
I did my M.F.A. at The New York Academy of Art in NYC.”
I have always wanted  to be an artist
When I asked about whether or not he knew what he wanted to do after school, he replied  ” I have always wanted to be an artist, I think if I was going to school now I would be interested in animation.”
Because I am in interdisciplinary studies, I was curious if Mike had ever done any collaborations or did work for people outside his profession, and he said he had.
“I have done paintings for my brother’s movies and had to work within their parameters or needs. I usually don’t have the gumption to do work for other people. It bores me.
Maybe that would make me a terrible team player but I have plenty of my own ideas that I want the time to follow through on.” I wanted to know more about his involvement in his brothers movies, so I asked him to remind me of his brothers movies.
“I did paintings for Beerfest and Slamming’ Salmon. My brother Kevin is part of the Broken Lizard comedy group that made those movies, as well as Super Troopers and other movies.”
That was something I found to be really cool, not every artist gets to put their art into a movie featuring their comedian brother.
I was wondering what kind of things Mike does outside of academic life, and he seems to have a lot of fun. He responded “I spend a lot of time creating a sustainable household. I have gardens and I sugar using my trees. I made a clay bread oven with clay and sand from our land. I have planted apple trees and blueberry bushes and nut trees.
I make my own cider. So my home is maybe a mini-Sturbridge Village.”
Of course I wanted to know what courses he would suggest kids do outside the art department to help them in their studio art or other art majors, he replied “I think art students should take a wide variety of courses. Philosophy and anatomy are important. They should take advantage of the liberal arts courses available to them at PSU.
Spend a lot of time in the library.”
And just some extra information about mike because I know he has much to offer any student, I asked him if he had anything he wanted the world to know about him that I hadn’t asked him.
 “I think my children have helped me be a better teacher and artist, perhaps by taking a more pragmatic view of the world. And finally, I started taking banjo lessons as a middle aged musical know-nothing and it has humbled me. I reminds me that it can be hard for students to learn something that may be easy for me. After much study and practice, of course.”
I was very glad to have had this opportunity to talk with Mike, and I hope you enjoyed the interview.
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