Masumoto Herd: Multimedia Arts and Design
About Us


What is a polymath?

Polymath: A person of great learning, whose expertise spans a significant number of different fields. Such a person draws on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems.

Kai Herd and Michael Masumoto

Kai Herd and Michael Masumoto Xmas 2015

Michael Masumoto is a voice actor, singer, composer, writer, director, filmmaker, graphic designer, art furniture maker, teacher and online education pioneer. Kai Herd is an art furniture maker and embedded systems programmer.

Masumoto Herd operates two workshops in Sonoma County, CA: one for digital/multimedia production and recording; the second for physical fabrication of fine furniture, theatrical sets and wood/glass properties, doubling as a small greenscreen studio facility.

Michael Masumoto is a proponent of the Melocchi Method, an Italian voice-building technique used by opera singers like Mario Del Monaco and Franco Corelli. Michael has added to this technique with his offshoot Masumoto Method, making it possible for him to mechanically correct problem voices deemed unfixable by maestro Melocchi. During the dot-com boom, Michael was the primary web programming and design professor at San Francisco State University's Multimedia Studies Program.

Kai Herd, a Master furniture maker, graduated from the James Krenov-founded College of the Redwoods Fine Furniture program in Fort Bragg, CA (widely regarded as the best woodworking program in the world). Prior to that, Kai spent 20 years programming embedded systems, first in the green energy sector (windmills), then for the telecommunications industry.


Michael and Kai were legally married on October 10, 2008, just before the passage of California's Proposition 8. They have been a committed couple since 1996. Both men identify as bisexual.

Michael and Kai are the godfathers of three children, a boy and two girls: Milo Trujillo (a recent graduate of Rensellaer Polytechnic Institute), Zinnia Thewlis, and Eleven Thewlis.


For more about Michael Masumoto, please visit the Personal Space area on his old website.



Most Contemporary Art bores and depresses me. At Art exhibitions and museums, I am frequently confronted with thought-provoking IDEAS, but the physical artworks themselves are often poorly-made and/or ill-considered. An idea alone should not be the sum total of a particular Art experience.

That's not to say that great Art necessarily requires Herculean labor -- a quick sketch or a vigorous piece of calligraphy can be quite exciting to contemplate -- but I believe that it requires genuine ability and effort. Too many contemporary artists have substituted gimmicks or salemanship for artistry. The bullshit level has risen so high that museum janitors have accidentally thrown away artworks because they literally looked like piles of garbage! This situation can not be allowed to continue.

Craft has been under constant attack since the beginning of the Modern era of Art, when Marcel Duchamp exhibited his damned Fountain and declared that the only thing that mattered was the artist's INTENTION, that Art was whatever the artist declared it to be. The widespread acceptance of this approach has led to today's problem: the idea now means EVERYTHING and the execution means NOTHING. As a consequence, contemporary Art has become virtually irrelevant in today's society, treated by legislators as an unnecessary expense instead of as the essential part of human existence that Art truly is.

Imagine a world without Art. Movies wouldn't exist. Music wouldn't exist. The inside of your home would be nothing but an empty shell with a few boxes and pads. Cars would be nothing but boxes on wheels. Product packaging would be all white with black text. Food would just be blobs of cooked whatever on slabs of rock. The whole notion is inconceivable. Art touches everything that exists in the human world because humans are creatures with aesthetic preferences in every aspect of our senses. We care how things look, how things feel, how they smell, how they taste, how they sound; humans are very particular beings.

How well something is executed DOES matter. Art has to have some standard of excellence or it means nothing to people. The idea behind a piece of Art is important, of course, but the idea mustn't be the only thing of value or you end up with some pretty questionable Art.

Unlike some, I do not want to chuck everything Modern and return exclusively to romantic photorealism; that reactionary movement makes me feel ill, even angry, because it invalidates so much great Art. But I do strongly believe that the "Legitimate" Art World needs higher standards in regards to execution and Craft because human nature really demands that.

When Kai and I started Masumoto Herd, we decided to differentiate ourselves through our dedication to Craft; we wanted to make beautiful things really, really well! Thus, our motto: "Reclaiming Craft for Art."

We don't care if a project is Fine Art or Commercial Art; every artwork is for sale, so they're all commercial anyway. What matters to us is that we be given the opportunity to do our very best, to make something we can feel proud of.

I sometimes think that Kai and I were crazy to pick up the Sword of Craftsmanship to fight our way against the omni-present ghost of Marcel Duchamp. Championing Craft, we can not produce a large volume of artwork because we make most of our projects with extreme care. But we're a pair of perfectionists, so the Sword of Craftsmanship is authentic to who we are as artists. We are always striving to improve, to make each project better than the last.

We hope you enjoy our Art!

Last Updated: September 29, 2018

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