Michael Berglund: Dinosaur Digs, Fire Pits and the Surly Sandbox

An Artist Profile of the Man Behind the Labels

By Jason Zabel

Tell me something weird about yourself: I don’t know if it’s weird, but for the past 12 years I’ve been digging dinosaurs out West in Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota. I’ve been able to dig up T. rex, Triceratops, Stegosaurus—all the stars of the Discovery Channel. I go digging with the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, and it’s a blast. I love to camp out in badlands in the middle of nowhere and unearth prehistoric life in 100 degree heat. I’ve been able to use that knowledge and experience to sculpt dinosaurs for collectibles and museums.

How would you explain yourself to someone you have never met? I’m not sure I can, I’m not fond of personal descriptors, really. None of this may be true by next week. I’m obsessively curious. I have to be making stuff, or learning, to be happy. I read voraciously on science, art, religion, culture, prehistory, consciousness, philosophy. Monsters, dinosaurs, lost worlds, and the macabre. Homebrewer. Cranky. Constantly striving to learn and improve at what I do. Value experiences over things, but still manage to be a pack rat. Heat. Rocks. Dirt. Stars. Solitude.

Medium? As a commercial artist in advertising, at MNFX we’ll build whatever, out of whatever. Wood, plastic, metal, fabric, foam, junk. We’ve worked with dead bugs, sculpted dirt, fake snow, built chocolate mountains, tiny trees, and melted motorcycles. Personally, I prefer clay sculpture, computer art and design—3D/Photoshop/llustrator, and building miniatures and models.

Where do you live/work? I live in Plymouth, my studio, MNFX, is in Northeast Minneapolis. I live and work in both places.

What can people do to support artists like you? Make art yourself. Or music, or writing. Cook, brew beer, whatever. Create. Get a taste of the pure joy and sheer terror of creation. Then, think about the special kind of madness that would drive a person to do that for a living. Value art, value creation, and value the work that goes into it.

Favorite gallery around town? Favorite artists? The Jeffers Petroglyphs in Western Minnesota are a great road trip. You’re viewing great art, you’re outside hiking, and taking in the fact that the human artistic impulse has been with us from the beginning. I don’t know who those artists were, but they felt compelled to make art, for cultural, spiritual, or personal reasons. I think that art provides the best opportunity we have to peer, however dimly, into the consciousness of those who have come before us, and I’m fascinated by that.

Favorite bar? My backyard firepit.

Favorite Beer? I was a Surly fan before I had the unique privilege to “play in the Surly sandbox” as I put it. So, it would be easy to call out any of their beer. But right now I’m taking a special pleasure in sampling all of the new Minnesota craft brew that’s coming on the scene. So my favorite beer is a local craft brew. I suppose that includes my own homebrew, as well . . .

Michael Berglund is the owner of MNFX. You can check out more of his studio’s awesome work at: www.mnfx.com

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