John Maeda is currently the President of the Rhode Island School of Design, having been elected to the post in 2008.
He makes many references to his time growing up working in the family tofu business in Seattle. While he was growing up, he tells that his teacher told his father that “John was good at math and art.” A few days later, he heard his father mention only “John is good at math,” leaving him to wonder about why art was left off for the rest of his life.
He graduated MIT at 1988 with a bachelor and master’s degree in computer science and electrical engineering, then proceeded to continue to Tsukuba University’s art program, which he graduated in 1992. Returning to MIT afterword, he joined the faculty as a professor until moving onto his current post at the Rhode Island School of Design.
Many of his early works with computers began experimenting with what a computer was and could do, some of which was at odds with his professors. An early graphics program he created could be set to allow a point to wiggle about indefinitely, which he claims his professor didn’t understand and asked for it to stop. Later, he expanded this into the “Reactive Square”, which wobbled in response to sound in the room.