Hugo Hoppmann

Cover The Canvas

This is a comment by Sebastian Berns on my Morning Pages article:

In reference to your conclusion (Last words):
Heinrich von Kleist wrote about that in «Über die allmähliche Verfertigung der Gedanken beim Reden», explaining that the flow of spoken words does form and conclude one’s thoughts. I believe, this is easily transferable to writing.

But what is your experience with writing for publishing? Because in that case, I guess, you have the objective to explain something specific. Is this kind of mindset different from the Morning Pages?

Dear Sebastian,

Thank you for your comment. The Heinrich von Kleist reference is really interesting. And yes, I think it’s very true.

When it comes to writing for publishing (or producing any “real” work) my process is actually quite the same in the beginning. I try to stick to a strategy I learned from an article by Steven Pressfield in which he talks about the importance of “covering the canvas”, a metaphor getting something out of your head, regardless of “correctness”, or “value”. The canvas of course can be anything: a new text document, an empty page in a notebook, a morning in the gym, …

So there is a similarity to the Morning Pages in the sense that I try to ignore the “worrying” part of the brain at this stage of creation. I don’t really care about correctness, I just keep on writing, trying to get everything out of the head at first, worrying about things as structure when I’m editing later. I guess it’s often a good tactic to separate the actual creation from the “official part”, the editing.

For me this idea is a clever hack to get started. After all, this is the most important thing and always the hardest part. Or as Aristoteles put it: “The beginning is half of the whole”.

I hope this answers your question.


January 28th, 2014

Evigno Habit 4: Meditation

Please consider reading the introduction for this post.

The next habit I do on a daily basis is meditation.

When my mother was still alive she sometimes meditated and I remember watching her sitting on our balcony, eyes closed with a calm and content look on her face. It was beautiful.

In the last years I read many articles on meditation and tried to practice it all by myself, pretty naively, without any guidance. Which was eventually the reason I couldn’t manage to build-up a real routine. So this habit didn’t last long on the first run.

Then someday I discovered a lecture by Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk who aims to demystify meditation and make it accessible to everybody. What was striking to me at first was that he didn’t look and talk what you’d “expect” from a monk and meditation expert. Take a look:

After watching this talk I also gave his book on meditation a try, which finally motivated me to start the daily Headspace practice. With the result that since then this morning routine has become a solid habit, which I enjoy very much. So much that I recommend it often to family and friends these days — and so to you, dear readers!

January 19th, 2014

Dev Hynes

It’s very difficult to be insulted, if you’re doing what you want.
Dev Hynes

December 4th, 2013

Evigno Habit 3: Exercise / Health

Please consider reading the introduction for this post.

It’s been a little while since the last blog post concerning the Evigno Habits. Let’s continue now with the next two in the row:

The next habit I try to pursue every day is a short but intense workout in the morning. I decided stop going to the gym (for now) but have instead developed a program to do at home (or anywhere, really) which seems sufficiently effective for me and not as time-consuming. It mainly consists of push-up’s, pull-up’s, handstands, crunches and exercises with my Aikido bokken. Additionally I recently discovered an article on a special workout in the New York Times and experiment with it ever since. It’s effective and fun because it’s so varied and triggers every body part.


I found that exercising in the morning gives me great momentum for the day and keeping a regular daily practice makes me feel much better on the long run. Given that I sit so much at work this the compensation I need!

Soon after the workout I also knock off a “Health” point in my list where I’m also counting the days I’m not sick. At least not too sick to do my daily practice. (But: not counting hangovers!).
It’s simply a reminder to make sure I do something for my well-being everyday to keep my body, mind and soul fresh and sane.

December 1st, 2013

Cologne Sessions on Tour

_lone_300dpi_back _lone_300dpi_front_

These are the new posters I made for our next big Cologne Sessions. In december we are going to try something new: On Friday the 13th we are playing in Cologne at beloved Studio 672, before travelling all together to Berlin to play at Humboldthain the following night with the same lineup.


It’s our great pleasure to have Lone from Nottingham on board. We really love his latest album “Galaxy Garden” and his Airglow Fires is (in my opinion) one of the greatest house tracks of the last years. See it here in use for Chanel’s F/W 13/14 haute couture show. Amazing!


(Hallo Manni!)

More info at Cologne Sessions
Facebook Event Cologne
Facebook Event Berlin

November 30th, 2013

Christoph Niemann 95% effort and 5% talent

Ultimately, my whole approach to what I do is 95% effort and 5% talent. I really see it as a sport. You probably won’t become a tennis player if you don’t stand on the court for six hours a day and whack balls over the net. And if you do that, you have to be incredibly untalented for it not to work. But I think it’s tempting to think as a creative professional, you sit there and you’re creative. So much of it is just doing it everyday for hours.
Christoph Niemann

November 27th, 2013

Kompakt Interview for Quottom

A couple of months ago I visited the KOMPAKT headquarters to interview Wolfgang and Reinhard Voigt, co-founders of the legendary music label from Cologne. Our conversation was published in the great new issue of Quottom magazine from Zürich. (Hello Nicolas and Ruben!)



(Click for a bigger view)

November 26th, 2013

Köln Shows

Two friends of mine have new exhibitions running. Tomorrow is the opening of Béla‘s ANARCHIVE:


Above is the poster we made based on the cover of his artist catalogue I designed for him couple of months ago:


And Thomas Wachholz is presenting his “Alkoholarbeiten” at An der Schanz 1A, in the same building where my friends Lukas and Moritz have setup their new studio. Worth a visit!


November 21st, 2013

James Altucher

Everytime you say “Yes” to something you don’t want to do, this will happen: you will resent people, you will do a bad job, you will have less energy for the things you were doing a good job on, you will make less money, and yet another small percentage of your life will be used up, burned up, a smoke signal to the future saying, “I did it again.”
The only real fire to cultivate is the fire inside of you. Nothing external will cultivate it. The greater your internal fire is, the more people will want it. They will smoke every drug lit by your fire. They will try to ignite their own fires. They will try to light up their own dark caves. The universe will bend to you. Every time you say “Yes” to something you don’t want, your fire starts to go away. You will get burnt out.
James Altucher

November 20th, 2013

Nils Frahm



Yesterday we went to the Nils Frahm concert at New Fall Festival in Düsseldorf which was simply mind-blowing. My girlfriend introduced me to his music while I recently also discovered his work through the Interview website. The article is worth checking out as is the rest of his beautiful oeuvre.
The day I got rid of my cast I had recorded 9 little songs. They have helped me feel less annoyed about my accident and reminded me that I can only achieve something good, when I make the most of what I’ve got.

November 2nd, 2013

INDECHS Interview

The following is a conversation I had with Friedrich Gräfling from Indechs a couple of months ago:

To begin with, could you tell us a little bit about your practice please?
I’m a 25-years old independent multidisciplinary graphic designer and art director working mainly on visual identities, magazines, books and websites.

I like the idea of the modern graphic designer being a powerful generalist. But having to work on too many projects at the same time can be overwhelming and counterproductive. Given the fact that I’m too curious and still bad at saying No I sometimes struggle to find the necessary focus. That’s why I became very interested in the art of managing time and energy and became an advocate for creating daily habits to help me stay healthy and productive and happy.
Browsing through your resume, the print medium is dominating. Is this an unconscious act or are you aiming at pursuing a career in this field?
I always loved printed matter and my formation as a graphic designer at the ECAL in Lausanne was primarily focused on making books, magazines, posters etc. When I was working at Meiré und Meiré after my studies I was mainly involved in the creation of print magazines such as Andy Warhol’s Interview, 032c, brandeins, Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

While I still enjoy working in print I have developed a fascination for webdesign over the last years. It’s such a young medium and it gets more exciting everyday with great new developments such as Responsive Webdesign which I’m really fascinated by. With my web design practise I try to bring together the best of both worlds coming from a more “traditional” graphic design background and mingling this knowledge with coding and the newest web design strategies.

Again, for me “graphic designer” is a pretty open term. I think a modern graphic designer should also understand how to create a beautiful and functional website.
Lately you even developed your own typeface, how did this happen?
I actually started designing my first typefaces with FontLab when I was still in highschool. In Lausanne I then had the chance to be supported by great teachers who helped me develop this craft further.

I think I designed around ten typefaces — some of them more, some less extensively. The one you’re most likely referring too is the Grace Jones typeface, which was initially a project I developed in the second semester of my studies. At that time I was a huge Grace Jones fan (still am) and my father gave me all his great GJ records on vinyl and I got a Jean-Paul Goude monograph as a birthday present.

So we had this project where we were asked to create a visual identity for an object of our choice. Luckily I could convince my teacher (Diego Bontognali) that Grace Jones was actually an artistic “object” an “invention” of Jean-Paul Goude — and so it began. I did lots of experiments around the fascinating androgyny of GJ which eventually ended up in several fonts.

The following summer (2009) I interned at Bureau Mirko Borsche and we used the typeface for the redesign of the Super Paper. Since then I gave it to many students for free and sold it to several agencies and magazines until I recently I gave the whole type family a completely overhaul and released it in my web shop.
Has Grace Jones been an one-off or are you interested in developing further typefaces especially with such strong design links?
At the moment there too many other things other things I’m personally more excited about doing than another typeface. But this doesn’t mean I’m not interested in typography anymore. For example I really enjoy the fascinating new type designs my friends Johannes and Fabian (→ Dinamo) are working on at the moment.

I always enjoyed the process of making your own font and I’m sure there will be a time when I’m back in the game. But I think I wouldn’t start a totally new type project but maybe rather redevelop older designs of mine, because I think some of them are still worth building on.
For someone not completely familiar with this operation could you elaborate on the process of designing a typeface from the initial idea to the finished font on our computer, please?
For me it still always starts with paper and pencil before I switch to the computer. In the beginning I always used FontLab but recently discovered a much more pleasant alternative called Glyphs, which is totally sufficient for most of my type development needs.

Inside the font editor you basically draw every single glyph of the alphabet, and every glyph has its own window. While creating your typeface there is constant testing which is fun but can become pretty laborious. But the drawing of the signs is only half of the deal. You have to take care of the spacing which means assigning the individual space at the left and right of one letter towards the others. I spare you with the kerning and further procedures to finalize a font.

But maybe this sound more daunting then it is. If you’re interested in type design I suggest you get a trial of Glyphs and try it out yourself!
Browsing through your different projects, they are presenting different typefaces used. How are you deciding which one to use and what relevance do these decisions then play?
Choosing the typographic direction of a project is always about finding the right tone, vehicle to transport and communicate the content in the most appropriate way.

You can try being very rational about it or let your gut decide, which often turns out to be a good choice.
What are your 5 favourite typefaces and on what ground are these chosen?
Answering this would be almost as tough as defining your five all-time favorite music albums. So I stick with the classics and current favorites (which naturally change from time to time).

Amazing typeface by one of my teachers in Lausanne and a great typographer: François Rappo. This has become kind of my “default” font at the moment. (Available at → Optimo)

Times Modern:
For me one of the most beautiful serif typefaces. I love how it was used by Willy Fleckhaus for TWEN and the Suhrkamp book covers.

A beautiful typeface which I also put it in the list because it was created by one of my early heroes Adrian Frutiger, who showed me early sketches of it when I visited him in his home in Switzerland!

Absolute classic and almost universally applicable. I especially love the heavy weights and the bold condensed italic.

Nimbus Extended:
I got a crush on extended sans-serif typefaces lately and the one of the Nimbus family is pretty nice and in-use on my website at the moment.
In 2010 you have launched your own publication “Better Mjstakes Volume I”, stating, that you do “not want a glossy goldstamped 500 paper, neither a half-assed copied fanzine. Rather something simple build with love – content is king.” Could you please elaborate further on the intention and what relation design, again typography and the actual researched/written content play?
Johannes and I founded this little magazine out of a necessity as we were missing a proper platform for (graphic) design theory with a focus on young creatives and the people we were interested in.

I always loved doing interviews because they are the perfect excuse to get to know the people I’m fascinated by. And the magazine was a great vehicle to put them out there. When I graduated the project fell a little asleep unfortunately and I continued publishing new interviews directly on my blog. But the “Let’s make better mistakes” mantra always stays with me. And who knows, maybe we’ll give it another try!
What’s next?
Next to running my own studio and being busy with my personal projects, I lately also rejoined Meiré und Meiré as a freelancer to work on a very exciting project together with Mike Meiré, Tim Giesen and Agnes Grüb, who are mentors and friends and I’m very thankful to work with and learn from them!

I’m really enjoying life in Cologne at the moment — at the same time I’m looking forward to travel the world again and to work in other countries and cultures in the future!

October 30th, 2013

Quit waiting on the stuff you know you want

Today truly is all we have; tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Tragic events served me a triple scoop of insight with a giant cherry of urgency on top, so I’ve been drafting a up a personal mission statement. One that pushes me to be a better person, all while reminding me to stop delaying what I truly want in order to be happy. Most often when we make a big and difficult life decision, we look back and say, “Why didn’t I do that sooner?” We all need to learn to quit waiting. I think about how much better we could be to ourselves, and those dearest to us, if we quit waiting on the stuff we know we want. Leave that unfulfilling day job and pour your soul into that idea you’ve daydreamed about for so long! It’ll likely scare the shit out of us, but I’m betting we’ll find an invigorating calm in the freedom of knowing we quit waiting.
— Brad Smith
Extract from the interview with Brad Smith that I found in the fourth issue of Offscreen magazine, which has become one of my favorites these days.

October 28th, 2013

The Summer Of Love

Dear Readers,

I really don’t know where to start. The last months were beautiful and crazy and very exciting.

Apart from enjoying a bunch of challenging projects with lots of new clients of my own I also worked intensely on the redesign of the Italian GQ together with Mike and Agnes. (More about that soon!)

In the meantime I just celebrated and enjoyed life to the fullest. I danced and deejayed and drank and laughed a lot with the greatest people I know, went to the amazing Dimensions festival, revisited beautiful Evigno … and I fell in love with a wonderful girl.

I’m going to recapture the last months, step by step, post by post, and let you know about the most recent adventures!


PS: I rejoined Twitter and posting there thoughts and ideas I think you might fight interesting. And hopefully this consistency will also reflect on this blog again!

Oh, and I also started using Instagram, so here is a little extract of impressions from the last months!



October 25th, 2013

Hartmut Esslinger

Design is not about aesthetics and being cool or whatever. It is about the real life – improving real life.

Hartmut Esslinger

June 3rd, 2013

Pendulums, Tea and Jack Cheng

It’s sunday and I’m enjoying the first calm weekend in weeks. Jack Cheng is a guy whose blog I follow for a couple of years now (he has just published his first novel!) and I particularly enjoyed this interview with him about “working from the road, lo-fi tools, work/life balance, starting your own thing, and living a well-lived life” which I read this morning. It’s from 2011 but that doesn’t make it less interesting.

As G. B. Stern said: silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone. So I want to share more often the stuff that excites and inspires me on a day-to-day basis, which is also one of the reasons why I recently rejoined Twitter — you can follow me there if that’s your thing!

From your experience in building businesses, what are some important initial steps and things to consider for the fledgling entrepreneur? Would you have done anything differently?
Know yourself. Understand your feelings and desires, work to figure out what you really want. Read more. Especially fiction. Accept yourself for all your talents and flaws. Remind yourself why you’re doing this, that an entrepreneur in the purest sense is a person who takes responsibility for himself. A person who takes his life into his own hands. Let go of how you expect things to happen and pay attention to the miracle of the world unfolding in front of you.

[…] Life is what shapes us and work is how we take that and affect change on the world. We’re back to the pendulum again. Just like traveling and freelancing, just like serving clients and building products, it’s ultimately about the way the two flow into each other, the back-and-forth motion. Life and work are never strictly separate, not masses on opposite ends of a scale. They’re two states of the same thing. And you’re the clockmaker, fine-tuning the motion between those states. It’s up to you to keep the clock regular.
➝ Read the full interview here.

June 2nd, 2013
Hugo Hoppmann Blog