Hugo Hoppmann

Nothing is permanent except change

It’s been over a year since the last post. But I’m still there! And I feel more alive than ever. The last months of my life were very intense and very beautiful. I’m living and working in New York City now and it’s been a great journey so far. I’m really thankful for all the new friends I made and for old ones for supporting me!


Today my interview with DROP Magazine was published and I thought I’d be a good reason to kick-off the blog again. I’m talking about my upbringing and how I got into design and how arrived where I am right now … you can expect more updates in the next weeks or daily on Instagram!

Thank you all,

December 14th, 2015

A•P•R• 002


My brothers from Aroma Pitch recently released their fantastic second EP on their own Berlin-based Aroma Pitch Recordings label. Following the first release I was responsible for the record design, as well as the visual identity and website.


Unlike the first record we decided this time for a sleeve with a hole, revealing the A-side label on which I put a photo of the guys during their live jam-session in a truck in Austin, Texas, during SXSW captured by Dave Dale:


The EP is distributed worldwide and available — among others — at Kompakt, Smallville Paris, AVA, Technique Japan, Bass Cadet Records, Decks, OYE and Recordloft Berlin.



Aroma Pitch are back with a full 4-track EP + digital bonus track. The long awaited second release on the trio’s own APR imprint is finally in stores in june 2014 and features tracks full of raw drums, acid basslines and mellow synthesizer pads. All tracks are perfect for both, home listening and the dance floor. The trio once again proves their outstanding intuition and ability to perform unique live-sets by having two tracks on the EP recorded live in one take.


→ More details in the work section
→ Support Aroma Pitch on Facebook
→ Listen to both EP’s on

September 16th, 2014



Last summer I won the pitch for the visual identity and according printed matter (25 posters for 25 cities and a concluding publication) of the Kunststiftung NRW’s (Arts Foundation of North Rhine-Westphalia’s) special project on the occasion of its 25-years jubilee – titled 25/25/25.

North Rhine-Westphalia, the heartland of German industrialization, has historically been a hub for collecting modern art and may by now well have the highest density of museums worldwide.  

The 25/25/25 Project is about raising public awareness and appreciation for the unrivalled density and vital cultural importance of art museums in North Rhine-Westphalia. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Arts Foundation of North Rhine-Westfalia is bringing together 25 international artists and 25 municipal art museums in the region. Each of the artists has been asked to delve into the collection of a particular museum and develop a new artwork reflecting that collection, in other words a portrait of what that museum is about in the broadest sense of the word. Each new work is to be exhibited in 2014 in the corresponding museum as well as on local hoardings in the surrounding city with a view to drawing people’s attention to “their” museum. Each newly produced artwork will then be donated to the museum’s collection.  


Reading the brief for the first time I was immediately hooked on the project’s title and knew immediately that I wanted to do something with the triple 25. I intended to create a clear and concise symbol for the project and after various experiments finally ended up with the 25 consisting of three lines running in parallel.


The next tricky part was to place and combine the other logos and the title 25 years, 25 museums, 25 artists. In a process of steady simplification …


… I ended up with the solution to integrate years museums artists directly, replacing one line in the symbol. This is the final logo:


The participating museums were selected by a committee of three art critics, Astrid Mania (freelance critic), Dominikus Müller (Frieze) and Antje Stahl (Monopol), on the basis of the stringency of each museum’s exhibition programme and how the museum relates to contemporary art.

The artists were nominated and invited to participate by an international committee of experts: Lorenzo Benedetti (Director Vleeshal, Middelburg), Dr. Yilmaz Dziewior (Director Kunsthaus Bregenz), Prof. Georg Imdahl (Kunstakademie Münster and art critic), Thibaut de Ruyter (exhibition designer and art critic), Prof. Katharina Sieverding (Universität der Künste Berlin), Adam Szymczyk (Director Kunsthalle Basel, Artistic Director of Documenta 14).

Looking back there were several exciting meetings at Kunststiftung headquarters in Düsseldorf but one day that sticks out was when I presented my graphic concept once more (after I had been selected) to the commitee of experts (see above) and was invited to join them afterwards for their discussion on the participating museum and artists for the project. It was really fascinating witnessing these guys talk about contemporary art, as they were so into it, armed with great expertise, many charming anecdotes and compelling standpoints to share.

The 25/25/25 project will continue throughout the year and end in a concluding publication as soon as all of the 25 artists have finished their work. So far 17 artists: Tercerunquinto (Bochum), Ulrich Urban (Recklinghausen), Vera Lutter (Düsseldorf), Calla Henkel & Max Pitegoff (Leverkusen), Ingrid Luche (Wuppertal), Sam Lewitt (Düren), Wade Guyton (Bottrop), Tara Mahapatra (Kleve), Joep van Liefland (Goch), Michael Dean (Aachen), Mandla Reuter (Bonn), Katinka Bock (Lüdenscheid), Katrin Mayer (Bielefeld), Ken Okiishi (Köln), Lena Henke (Marl), Peter Friedl (Siegen), Azin Feizabadi (Dortmund) have finished their work and I created the first billboards:


The first 17 of 25 billboards. To be continued!



You will find more images and the whole list of participating museums and artists on the projects page in the work section — and I end this post with the 25/25/25 project manifesto:

We aim to

• Make our mark in the densest museum scene for contemporary art
• Bolster the museum collections
• Highlight solidarity between artists and art lovers
• Invite all the residents of each city to THEIR museum
• Discuss the museum of the future
• Bring art into each city on billboards
• Dare to experiment
• Ask questions about and through art
• Defend art


July 8th, 2014

Böwer, Moff and Individuation

The last months have been (positively) busy. Here’s the first part and a quick note on some newly finished projects. You can always grab more images and info in the work section. Thank you for your support!



I was approached by designer and architect Eric Degenhardt to design the new catalogue for manufacturer Böwer presenting their current range of products and celebrating the 150-years jubilee of the company.

We developed a large poster with a special folding. Photography by Tillmann Franzen. Special thanks to Felix Klingmüller!

More images at





It was an honor for me to be given the opportunity to design the ninth issue of MOFF magazine, which was released at Art Cologne in April 2014. MOFF is a bi-annually published magazine featuring in-depth interviews with artists from Cologne, founded and run by Stefanie Klingemann and Anne Schloen.

Having had carte blanche was great but also a challenge that made me realize once more how helpful constraints can be. A nice bonus was that by chance my mentor Mike Meiré and my uncle and art conservator Andreas Hoppmann were also being interviewed for the issue. The portraits are shot especially for this issue by the great Albrecht Fuchs.




More images at



I created the visual identity and website for stylist Lydia Glup.






To be continued …

July 4th, 2014

Bielefeld Interview

Here comes a little interview for Katerina Trakakis and Svenja Wittmann’s diploma project at FH Bielefeld where I was giving a workshop last month.
(German only for the moment, but I will hand in an English version later!)

Warum tust du, was du tust?
Ich wollte schon als kleiner Junge Designer (und Fussball-Profi) werden. Grafikdesign ist ein wundervoll breit gefächertes Feld, deshalb passt dieser Beruf gut zu mir. Ich habe seit ich denken kann so viele verschiedene Leidenschaften und Interessen und liebe es alles miteinander zu verbinden. Eigentlich ist alles was ich will: frei und unabhängig sein, schöne und praktische Dinge produzieren, mit tollen Menschen zusammensein. Dafür lebe ich. Das macht mich glücklich.

Hast du dich viel ausprobiert oder wusstest du immer, wo du hin möchtest?
Ich glaube ich wusste tatsächlich irgendwie schon immer wo ich hin möchte und wie ich leben will. Aber selbstverständlich probiert man vieles aus, fällt oft auf die Schnauze, steht wieder auf, und das ganze von vorn. Irgendwie ist das ganze Leben ein riesiges Experiment. Everything is practice!

Wenn du ein Projekt angehst – denkst du zuerst oder machst du zuerst?
Ich mache zuerst. Der Anfang ist die Hälfte des Ganzen. Nicht lange drüber nachdenken, einfach erstmal loslegen – ganz egal was dabei rauskommt. Ideen entwickeln sich im Prozess.

Sprichst du während du gestaltest mit anderen darüber?
Ich bin ein ziemlicher Verfechter von “early shipping”, also sobald wie möglich zu liefern und seine Entwürfe zu “offenbaren”, auch wenn noch nicht alles perfekt ist. Perfektion kann ein Killer sein. Mir ist es wichtig, dass man meinen Prozess nachvollziehen kann und binde Kunden so schnell wie möglich mit ein. Feedback ist immer hilfreich, gerade auch von jemanden “von außen”. Ich finde da darf man nicht scheu sein. Aber ein bisschen Mut gehört natürlich immer dazu!

Machst du Fehler?
Unbedingt! Wenn ich keine Fehler machen würde, wäre das ein schlechtes Zeichen und würde wahrscheinlich bedeuten, dass ich auf der Stelle trete. Ein wirklicher Experte ist eben jemand, der in einem bestimmten Feld schon alle Fehler gemacht hat. Der positive Umgang mit Fehlern ist entscheidend und vielleicht eines der wichtigsten Dinge, die ich bisher im Leben gelernt habe. Lieber machen und scheitern, als später zu bereuen etwas nicht ausprobiert zu haben! Ich habe dem Thema sogar mal ein ganzes Magazin (“Better Mjstakes”) gewidmet. In diesem Sinne: Let’s make better mistakes tomorrow!


Good times with Johannes and Andrea in Bielefeld!

June 28th, 2014

The only thing preventing us from being awesome is our own fear of sucking. If you want to be truly awesome you need to embrace the suck, do it in public, move on and pick stuff that matters.

Jeff Atwood

June 13th, 2014

Visual Journalist Interview

An excerpt of my interview for the upcoming book by Pauline Baumberger and Michael Schmitz —  also featuring Steven Heller, Jay Lang, Sam de Groot, Rick Poynor und Robin Kinross — to be published in summer 2014.
Thank you Pauline and Michael for the invitation!

What are the dispositions of graphic design as a profession?
Being a mélange of arts and craft, graphic design is an immensely diverse and fascinating field of practice, accommodating countless media and all forms of communication. The modern graphic designer is a generalist, a “jack of all trades” — this is one of reasons why I love my profession.

What I’m learning in my pursuit to become better as a graphic designer are things that are, for me, of importance for life itself. Communicating in the clearest and most honest way. Reducing to the essentials. Giving all I’ve got. Making my visions tangible and useful for others.

I often think of graphic design as architecture, only on a different scale and more immediate. You can design something in a short period of time, print it/upload it on the web — and it’s there. It exists and can start to influence, inspire. I always found this fascinating.

How does the education of a graphic designer need to look like?
Whenever I visit German design schools I have the impression that the system is too laid-back in a way. This might be useful for certain studies, but for design I think the more intense the better. I can only speak of my own experience, the three-year studies at ECAL, which were hardcore but in a very good way. The intensity really helped pushing yourself and your craft. It was very schoolish, we had consultations, discussions, presentations, courses every day of the week. The momentum was kept always alive and I found this to be very powerful. The ECAL took its mission seriously: to make us super-ready for the real world.

Another important feature of my studies was that the university managed to realize workshops with some of the most brilliant minds of our industry. Suddenly you found yourself working and playing with your biggest idols! This gave me many great opportunities to ask all my burning questions and connect for future projects. I’m pretty thankful for that.

Should a graphic designer specialize?
In my opinion — as I stated in the beginning — the modern graphic designer is a generalist. Powerful things can happen when you combine different skills, when you explore other fields and new professions to experiment with. It opens new doors and ultimately makes you a more complete designer in the long run.

Why is it important to reflect?
Reflection is everything. I think it’s super-important to regularly step back from your work and clear the head to see the big picture and be able to evaluate what you are actually doing with our life time and WHY. Is this the most important thing for you to be working on? Could you spend your time better? And if so, why the hell aren’t you?
I try to ask this myself everyday.

June 12th, 2014

Redesigning GQ Italia


In spring 2013 I got a call from Mike Meiré asking if I would be interested in helping him redesign and shape the new GQ Italia, the monthly published men magazine by Condé Nast/ Milan — Hell yeah!

This certainly sounded very exciting and I was looking forward to work with Mike and the team again, plus I was curious about the newly appointed editor-in-chief of the magazine, Carlo Antonelli.

In the first days in the Factory I started the project at zero, which was a fun challenge, nevertheless a bit intimidating. Mike had the notion of vintage sophistication in mind and briefed me to review and experiment with the infamous designs of the men magazines from the 60s/70s like Playboy, Esquire, … and of the course the old GQ’s — without getting into a nostalgic trap but keeping it very contemporary at the same time. Here is an extract from Mike’s official press statement where he stated his vision more precisely:

A more masculine appeal was needed, as the diversity and depth was missing in the current GQ focus on post-modern hipsters. However, the title already carries a strong DNA that reaches beyond modern fashionistas: Gentlemen’s Quarterly. Carlo and I started a discussion on what it means today to be a Gentleman. Being a Gentleman is about style, charisma, performance, and disirability. It is a more enriched dimension of what GQ was until now: too restricted by hip and stylish looks — in other words: too flat. The aim was to create an image of a sophisticated man balancing post modernity with life experience and wisdom. In terms of design, this meant a more masculine approach, reflected in typography, layout, image selection and overall visual language.

Based on a retro-futuristic appeal, the visual language evokes a new vintage sophistication. A slight erotic subtext provokes masculine clichés, bringing forth a new quality in entertainment. Making a certain old school approach visible — yet on a contemporary level, balancing sophistication and post-modernism. […] It was my goal to develop a visual language that opposes the dictate and irrelevance of self-absorbed “hip and stylish” magazines, bringing in more depth, and ultimately bring back the Gentleman.

I began to dig deeper into the “patient” by going on a fascinating journey of exploring all these marvelous covers from the past, beginning with the title’s transition from Apparel Arts to Gentleman’s Quarterly in 1957:

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The GQ (formerly Gentlemen’s Quarterly) is originally an American monthly men’s magazine focusing on fashion, style, and culture for men, through articles on food, movies, fitness, sex, music, travel, sports, technology, and books. “Gentlemen’s Quarterly” was launched in 1931 in the United States as Apparel Arts. It was a men’s fashion magazine for the clothing trade, aimed primarily at wholesale buyers and retail sellers. Initially it had a very limited print run and was aimed solely at industry insiders to enable them to give advice to their customers. The popularity of the magazine amongst retail customers, who often took the magazine from the retailers, spurred the creation of Esquire magazine in 1933.

Apparel Arts continued until 1957 when it was transformed into a quarterly magazine for men which was published for many years by Esquire Inc. Apparel was dropped from the logo in 1958 with the spring issue after nine issues, and the name Gentlemen’s Quarterly was established.
Gentleman’s Quarterly was re-branded as GQ in 1967. The rate of publication was increased from quarterly to monthly in 1970.  [→ Source]

Needless to say I became pretty fascinated by the origins of this magazine. Just take a look at some of the covers I just couldn’t resist showing you. I found them to be quite remarkable, with the photography and design beautifully catching the zeitgeist of their particular era …

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973e6736fbaafd2cc9e6ab9d31ff0529 9520d783e3c34d309d120989070ca19c 129083c710c116c5f33fb7b08e748a2a
c8a50eb617f9ee0ac70c23116a4f02c7 cd503f46cbfaf4bd3c08b4f28b14050d d7b7b9a3129f396bea4353c649d418d9

See the whole archive of covers here

But back to the work. It’s so easy to get lost in nostalgic wave of appreciation for the past and somehow old magazines always look cool. But we wanted to create a product for the now!

I started off with the typographic mechanics. We wanted a bold serif headline font and decided for the Prumo Text Black by Dino dos Santos and as an alternative the Century Old Style. Our sans-serif of choice became ITC Kabel, and for highlight-boxes the Neutra with a comicesque shadow.

But we also wanted a handwritten counterpart for the pagination and monthly categorization for every page throughout the publication and so I created a range of handwritten numbers and the lettering for every month which I afterwards digitized:

The numbers were a bit trickier. Of every number I drew five versions and with the help of a randomize script the numbers get mixed up throughout the issue, so for example for page 22 you have two slightly different 2′s which has a nice and more authentic effect:



It was amazing when we finally received the first bunch of “real” material and could start playing with some great works of world-class photographers in combination with amusing Italian headlines. The content we received from the offices in Milan were partly from other international GQ’s, or purchased from other magazines, or originally created for the issue. Overall it was always an quite interesting mix and selection by Carlo and his team. Here are some selected layouts from the first issues:

More here

Seeing the first spread in this little selection of layouts above, I remember a nice little story. While designing the story about Giancarlo Giannini, Carlo roll over to me and shared some great stories about the actor and showed me old movie extracts on YouTube “he has the greatest voice in Italian cinema!” — but to prove this fact to me YouTube wasn’t enough for Carlo so he quickly called Signore Giannini on the spot, turning his phone on speaker so we could witness his real voice!

Anyway, to further summarize the graphical elements of the first issue I wanted to show you this video by Condé Nast (presenting the according iPad app for the magazine):

Video (c) GQ Italia / Condé Nast


Last but not least the covers. For me it is always one of the most exciting things you can design. For the first new issue we had to work with image from Mario Testino’s shoot with Miley Cyrus — for the second one a portrait of Lady Gaga by Inez & Vinoodh:

After the initial starting phase and three full issues I decided to shift my focus again to my own projects. A big thank you again to everyone at Meiré und Meiré, and special thanks to Mike and Agnes, Hannes and Tim — and Carlo Antonelli, Carlo Annese, Mauro and the whole GQ team in Milan! I’m very thankful for this experience.


Grazie mille a tutti!

May 15th, 2014

Jean-François Piège and Jessica Alba

It’s always fascinating to see what happens once you let go of a child. Since I put the Grace Jones Typeface for sale, I was happy to see a nice variety of creators use the fonts in different ways. Sometimes you connect after the purchase and so I got to know Paris-based designer Sophie Toporkoff when she asked me to design a bolder version of the Grace. Sophie then used it for designing the new autobiography of Michelin awarded French chef Jean-François Piège.

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Also actress Jessica Alba recently enjoyed dinner at Piège’s restaurant in Paris and shared an image of the book with her audience:

Jessica Alba and the Grace Jones Typeface

To be continued …

March 6th, 2014

Paul Graham on Procrastination

What’s the best thing you could be working on, and why aren’t you?
Most people will shy away from this question. I shy away from it myself;
I see it there on the page and quickly move on to the next sentence. Hamming used to go around actually asking people this, and it didn’t make him popular. But it’s a question anyone ambitious should face. […]

I think the way to “solve” the problem of procrastination is to let delight pull you instead of making a to-do list push you. Work on an ambitious project you really enjoy, and sail as close to the wind as you can, and you’ll leave the right things undone.

This is an extract from Paul Graham’s fascinating essay on
Good and Bad Procrastination, which I highly recommend.

February 24th, 2014

Moving Mountains for Carhartt


I wanted to share with you a new project I recently published in the portfolio. It’s a new book for and with artist and photographer Alexander Basile, titled Moving Mountains, containing photography from and around his shoot for the Fall/Winter 2013 collection of Carhartt. I loved the images at first sight and was fascinated by their making: Alexander and his crew went to a forrest in Switzerland in the middle of the night, only equipped with huge spotlights and a strong perseverance. The dripping rain and massive fog created a really interesting, mysterious and beautiful atmosphere.

We decided to print the book on different paper stock and formats according to the use of color for the landscapes and woods and black and white for the portraits. The title is embossed on the cover.

Thanks again to Carhartt for helping to realize this project.

Here is a selection of pages, see the entire project here:

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February 23rd, 2014

3-Years Cologne Sessions


We are going to celebrate the third birthday of our Cologne Sessions and are honored to welcome the great Jay Daniel from Detroit to play with us tonight! To our friends in Berlin: The party goes on at Farbfernseher tomorrow!

I also want to use this occasion to thank again all the amazing artists we had great pleasure to welcome in Cologne over the last years:
Alexander Nut, Aroma Pitch, Ata, Axel Boman, Biodub, Christian Löffler, Christian Prommer & Band, Daisuke Watanabe, Das Hutwerk, Edward, Elektro Guzzi, Fatima & Band, Felix Bold, Floating Points, Funkineven, Gratts, Hiroaki Oba, Hunee, Jacob Korn, Jannis Hannover, Jason, Jay Daniel, Jondo, Joy Orbison, Jules, Krause Duo, Kyle Hall, Lawrence, Lone, Magic Mountain High, Manamana, Marius Sahdeeq, Marquese, Mitch, Momo, Move D, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Mueller & Mitch, Oliver Hafenbauer, Oskar Offermann, Paul Effort, Portable, Prosumer, Roman Flügel, San Soda, Sebastian Kratzke, Simon Hein, Soulphiction, Skudge, Steffen Bennemann, Tag Team, Tevo Howard, The Citizen’s Band, Tobias Thomas and Wareika!

Oh, and the poster above is now the 26th I did in these first three years, you can see all of them over here! Cheers!

February 14th, 2014

The Story of Kompakt

Another post on Kompakt! This time it’s just a lovely video I wanted to share in addition to my interview with the co-founders of the influential Cologne based music label. It’s affectionately produced by Sonos Studio and also features Gregor Schwellenbach, a fine pianist I had the pleasure to hear live a couple of months ago.


February 7th, 2014

What if a genie promised you a wish, but with a catch

What if a genie promised you a wish, but with a catch: you had to tell him the truth about what you really wanted — otherwise you’d lose everything. We internally repeat what we want to believe about ourselves (“I enjoy my work”) but rarely with self-scrutiny. Make a list — every day — of what you truly, deeply want out of life. Revise it repeatedly, until you feel you are being unflinching honest about your desires.

From an article by Mitch Horowitz

February 2nd, 2014

Sustainable Design

I did an interview on sustainable design for Ken and Mikel from FH Düsseldorf and their COMBO magazine. Here are the spreads, for those who were interested:



February 1st, 2014
Hugo Hoppmann Blog

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