Master printer and artist, Damir Porobic, is in his eighth year teaching Printmaking, Photo and Digital Art and Design here at USM. He brings a deep passion for imaging technologies and practical experience in print publishing to the classroom.
His parents were both teachers, so it seemed natural to him. “I always liked working with people,” he said. “Teaching is the best form of collaboration.”
Porobic left his home region of former Yugoslavia to study in Arkansas when he was seventeen. In Arkansas, he focused on art. He worked with children doing pottery and did figure drawing with seniors.
After graduating with honors, Porobic went to the Kansas City Art Institute to study Printmaking. Originally he chose focus on Print because it was so unfamiliar to him. He was drawn in by how little he knew about the field and the equipment.
He later attended grad school in West Virginia. He taught while studying art studio and theory, and continued to investigate printmaking and digital art technologies.
Before USM, he taught at the Maine College of Art (MECA) and ran a master printing shop in Portland. At MECA he taught topic classes like War Time Impressions. This class focused on technology used for mass-producing posters that needed to be printed cheap and fast.
When Porobic first came to USM, he said that there was no one in charge of the printmaking section and so the print shop was somewhat in disrepair. “I was really actually attracted to that … I always did that … built shops and rebuilt them,” he said.
Over the last eight years, he has worked to improve the space. “It’s safer. It runs better. It serves students better,” he said.
He talked about a project he was working on with his Intro to Printmaking class. The project, Print Power, has students choose an agenda that is important to them and use the technology they’ve learned in the class to create a persuasive poster. Students referred to War Time posters from the 1940s for inspiration.
Supporting the arts and being collaborative are both very important to Porobic. He referred to himself as a “STEAM” person. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math. He believes that with the rise of everyone having a shared digital platform, the arts are beginning to have footing with STEM fields.
“The big names that started the whole western civilization thing, like Michelangelo, Galileo… they were everything,” he said. “They were a scientist, they were an artist.” He spoke at length about the evolution of technology and how historically artists have pushed technology to its limits when the industry thought it obsolete.
Now that Porobic is teaching full time he says it is more difficult to do as much hands-on work, but he tried to offers regularly co-curricular student focused events on campus, and engage with professional print community in the region.
It’s important for him to not be removed from the work that he is teaching, and in the summers he continues to work with artists, printshops, businesses and the general community on projects related to art and technology.
He encourages students to take art classes no matter what their major. “[The arts] feed our soul,” he said. “You study art, but it really trains you in different fields that are very applicable.”
In the fall semester, he is teaching an Intro to Printmaking class focused on some of the earliest forms of printing. Additionally, he is excited to teach some classes for the new digital media and design minor.