Hugo Herrera Tobón
Hugo Herrera Tobón was born in Bogotá (CO), but transferred to Madrid (ES) in 2000, and lived for extended periods in New York (US), Ulaan Bataar (MN), Malabo (GQ), Athens (GR) and Lisbon (PT), where he worked for the London-based agency IPS as an interviewer for government officials and top executives producing global country-branding socioeconomic reports for EU and US magazines including Fortune, Forbes and Newsweek. He then relocated to Amsterdam (NL) to pursue studies at the Rietveld Academie in 2008, and assisted graphic designer Annelys de Vet and industrial designer Vincent de Rijk.
Hugo Herrera Tobón’s Art Direction studio was established in Amsterdam in 2009. The studio specializes in communication design, art direction, exhibition design and curatorship for the artistic and cultural fields as well as for institutions and commercial clients.
The studio follows a conceptual design approach that is always guided by a close dialog with the people it works with. These processes translate into dynamic identities, editorial productions, websites, digital projects, custom typefaces, different printing techniques, artworks, installations, photography, small editions, exhibitions, stage design elements, and lighting. Herrera Tobón is also commissioned for the (graphic) production of artworks by visual artists. Further, he also curates and designs exhibitions (mostly) in the realms of design and architecture.
From an artistic standpoint, Hugo Herrera Tobón specializes in cultural, editorial, and international productions that lay at the intersection of design, communication and arts. Notions of dilettantism, craftsmanship, and identity, as well as the soft powers of visual communication and typography, are at the core of his production and visual discourse. He is concerned with the role and positioning of the designer: the examination of visual communication in the realm of arts, culture & politics, and the use of speculative design futures and meta-discourses that pose questions and alternative views on issues like consumerism, environment, intercultural exchange, gender, and social integration through artistic practice, and beyond the traditional boundaries of the design discipline. Hence his portfolio includes not only graphic commissioned work but also self-initiated projects and autonomous artistic collaborations, where boundaries between different creative disciplines constantly overlap.
Since 2009 he manages the graphic identity of the Dutch National Youth String Orchestra (Nederlands Jeugd Strijkorkest – NJSO). Since 2017 he is in charge of the communication design and identity of the symphony orchestra Ricciotti ensemble (in collaboration with Cèline Wouters). In 2022 he designed the graphic identity for the 20th anniversary of the African Film Festival of Tarifa & Tangier. He is currently collaborating as a Creative Consultant & Senior Brand Designer for CAF, the Development Bank for Latin America & the Caribbean.
The studio currently operates in a nomadic, hybrid, remote or on-site form, mostly from Amsterdam & Madrid.
Hugo Herrera Tobon’s artistic work has been shown in art institutions in The Netherlands such as Mediamatic (2009), where he was guest curator of the Bogotá pavilion during the Amsterdam Biennial exhibition, or De Appel Arts Center (2011), where he was guest artist of a program curated by art-collective The Living Room(s).
For over a decade, he has been part of the Dutch sound-art performative collective 7090. He designed and co-curated «PAND7090 – mobile gallery & pop-up performance» (1st prize winner in the Fringe Festival Amsterdam – touring in NL, South Africa & the UK, 2014-15), where boundaries between visual art and music, audience and stage are explored. Later on, he collaborated in the project «Abstraction Park 7090»: a free, public-space sound-installation filled with analogue machines, performances and soundscapes where art forms converge.
He has also been working closely with visual artists Milena Bonilla and Luisa Ungar in the production of artworks for exhibitions in Paris, the US, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Bogotá.
In collaboration with Annelys de Vet, Hugo Herrera Tobón is also editor and curator at Subjective Editions, a rhizomatic publishing initiative that develops bottom-up engaged mapping publications. These volumes are mapping a country, region, geo-political entity or concern in a personal way and by the inhabitants themselves. For more information on this project please visit subjectiveeditions.org
In 2012, together with Annelys de Vet & Moniek Driesse, he curated, produced, edited, and designed the «Subjective Atlas of Colombia» (Published by Semana Libros in 2015). He was also curator of the general exhibition «Subjective Atlas of Colombia» in Artecámara (2015, Bogotá – CO), which collected works by around 50 Colombian artists in a cartographical, ethnographic, and subjective cabinet-like exhibition that mapped local identity.
In 2019, Herrera Tobón initiated a collaboration with Kaunas 2022 – European Capital of Culture (Kaunas, LT) as an international guest artist and curator. A «Subjective Atlas of Garliava Neighbourhoods» was produced with over 60 amateur creators from communities of the surrounding areas of Kaunas, resulting in a general exhibition in Juaragai’s TV tower (October 2019). Further, he was invited in 2020 by the «Modernism for the Future programme – MoFu» to develop the «Subjective Atlas of Kaunas – contemporary perspectives of Modernism», published in 2021 by Subjective Editions. A large exhibition of the project took place in the «MoFu 360/365» show, at Kaunas’ Central Post Office building, exhibiting 18 projects by national and international guest artists and architects, that presented a multitude of perspectives and interpretations of Kaunas’ vast cultural modernistic heritage.
In 2020/2021, he was a guest designer in the publication «Values for Survival – the Venice Exploratorium: Cahier 2» produced by Het Nieuwe Instituut for the Dutch Pavillion of the Venice Biennale of Architecture, in collaboration with Huda AbiFarès, The Chief Science Office of the City of Amsterdam, Chief Officer Caroline Nevejan, and Editor Zola Can.
In 2023 he started a collaboration as Exhibition Designer for Casco Art Institute (Utrecht, NL) in the design of a solo exhibition by visual artist & filmmaker Ana Bravo Pérez.