College for Creative Studies: Fine Arts

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Christopher Hill

Artist and Software Designer

Christopher Hill uses a paint knife to carve whitecaps that break along an abandoned beach under a storm-darkened sky — an unusual pursuit, some might say, for an industrial design graduate. Over a 23-year career, however, Hill’s endeavors have tended to range in unusual ways — generally ways that bridge the sometimes divisive worlds of science and art.

Hill has used computer-aided design skills to illustrate Camaros, Corvettes and Vipers for General Motors. And he has also written comedies. He has developed 3D computer models of the bones, tendons and muscles of the foot for orthopedic surgeons. And he has also composed digital music. Hill has launched and led multimillion-dollar software companies, and he has also designed interactive exhibits for the Detroit [now Michigan] Science Center.

So when Hill sat down recently to build frames for 15 new canvases, he calculated the golden ratio, first described by the 16th-century mathematician Fra Luca Bartolomeo de Pacioli, to establish the dimensions. And when he sits down to mix his own paints next week, he’ll use an ancient mathematical formula to convert weight to density.

“I like the balance between right and left brain,” says Hill, whose mother was an artist and father a NASA physicist. Professionally, that balance has been profitable, allowing Hill to navigate the sometimes conflicting needs of aerospace engineers and product designers.

“Art and design are very rewarding, so set your goal and stay fixed on it,” says Hill to aspiring CCS students. “It’s helped me so much in my career to have a good degree on my resume — the work [at CCS] was hard, but it was worth it.”