Artist Hugo Vera uncovers his first encounter with graphic design, his move to the UK and the start of his growing freelance journey.
By Laura Khamis
Born and raised in Venezuela, Hugo Vera is a graphic design student that moved to the UK to study Fine Arts at Loughborough University. Having discovered an innate love for art, his move to the UK defined the start of his journey towards something he truly enjoyed. His accidental discovery of graphic design whilst witnessing a graphic design student and friend at work inspired his decision to also become a graphic design student. Having lived in an environment that hindered his creative expression, his artwork explores the endless possibilities that come with graphic design.
With an Instagram page filled with striking art, we witness artwork and graphics with a variety of subjects, mainly in portrait format. However, his depiction of his chosen subjects differs from the use of subtle, sensual detailing to the formation of extravagant and vibrant characters. His work has led to a number of commissions in which he effortlessly adds a personal touch to each piece. For this very reason, Hugo has worked with some of the US’ biggest artists to date including DaBaby, Gucci Mane, Nicki Minaj and Megan Thee Stallion. His ever-growing style and confidence has continued to bring forth more outstanding opportunities. However, these projects only mark the beginning of his journey as a freelance artist as leads up to his final year at Loughborough University.
Hugo tells as more about the start of his art journey, some of his biggest opportunities to date and what he works to achieve after university.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your background.
I was born and raised in Venezuela. However, after years of corruption, my country became too dangerous to live in which left my family no choice but to emigrate to Spain in 2014. I’ve always been interested in art, but it wasn’t until I moved and started studying art in school that I realized that being an artist was actually a career path that was available for me, one that just wasn’t possible living in Venezuela. This new country seemed more open and advanced, though it still didn’t feel like the place that was going to open the doors that I wanted. That is why I chose to start applying to universities in the UK as it seemed like a place where the arts were more appreciated. I made my mind up and just left Spain without any idea of what was waiting for me in this entirely new environment.
When did you first discover your love for graphic design? What inspired you?
It was actually all thanks to Loughborough. I started my Foundation Course with the intention of following the Fine Art path. All I knew before England was that artists did Fine Art in school and that was the end of it, but I discovered that I am way more drawn to graphic design. I saw my friends doing character design and animation and I found myself being incredibly jealous of them while I was struggling with my Fine Art projects. After that, I decided to change courses and it has been the best decision I’ve ever made, after moving to the UK.
When did you then begin making the artwork that you now post regularly on your social media?
Although I love classical painting, I have been interested in digital art since the age of eleven. I remember borrowing my dad’s iPad 1 and drawing portraits with my finger. From this point on, I just kept going, I never stopped drawing on an iPad. My art kept getting better and better, and it became the art that you can find today on my social media. I now have an iPad Pro and I have mastered what I view as my art style and I couldn’t be happier with where I am at the moment.
How would you describe your style of art and graphic design?
I stopped caring about having a consistent art style a long time ago. I struggled so much with this, as I envied other successful artists with amazing and consistent art styles. Until I realized that having only one strict art style is, at least for me, incredibly boring! I now draw whatever I feel like drawing when I’m bored, and that has seemed to work for me these past few years. People seem to like what I do, and I am happy to share what I do. I would describe my art as changing and evolving constantly. I love to play with colour, shapes and textures. I never want to put myself inside a box because I would feel like I have nothing else to learn or no more growing to do, and I never want to feel that way.
What does your artwork allow you to personally express?
I honestly just draw for myself. I draw only what interests me and motivates me. That’s why you’ll mostly find fan art of my favourite singers or movies. I draw when I’m bored and only when I enjoy what I am doing. I think this mindset allows my art to be very honest and personal as I will not force anything to come out from my hands if I’m not proud of it. I want to entertain and inspire the people that follow me through my hobby. All my followers see is an honest representation of the person I am at that moment in time.
You’ve worked with a number of iconic and big American artists, how did these collaborations come about and how was it like working with such big names?
Being on social media for such a long time and growing a following allows me to connect with people that can mean great opportunities for my personal growth as an artist. I met an art director called Flash, who suddenly appeared in my DMs offering me projects that involved big names like Cardi B and Kehlani. At first, I thought it was a scam, but I wouldn’t forgive myself for missing such big opportunities, so I said yes. Unfortunately, these projects weren’t successful for me. It wasn’t until Flash offered me the Megan Thee Stallion project that this whole thing actually took off. This project was a wild ride after I worked on it for a week. Then they added Nicki Minaj to the song, which turned it into two weeks. Everything felt like a dream, until the song was out, and my drawing was in Spotify, but even then, it still felt fake!
After that I have worked on projects like Fendi by Nicki Minaj and Richer Than Errybody by Gucci Mane, which is still insane. I feel incredibly blessed to be in this position, but I know it all comes from my great effort and years of practice, which I’m very proud of.
What has been your favourite collaboration or project and why?
I am currently doing a piece for Rose Mcgowan. She has been a hero of mine since forever, starring in some of my favourites like Jawbreaker and Planet Terror, and series like Charmed. I made a drawing of her a few days ago and she happened to see it and enjoy it. She messaged me and we’ve been chatting like were friends. This is such a mind-blowing experience for me, and the fact that through my art I can meet my heroes is unbelievable. I have many stories like this, but it never fails to blow my mind every time my drawing of someone turns into me meeting them, and I’m not planning on stopping anytime soon.
What are you working towards for the rest of 2020?
It’s honestly hard to know where any of us are going to be in the next few months thanks to the current state of the world. I lost my chance of going on placement and had to figure my life out quickly. My main focus are my studies, I want to finish my last year proudly and my work as a freelancer is on the side. I am doing work at the moment to save up for what’s coming, but I want my life to go back to being balanced. I want to educate myself and grow as an artist; the rest can wait. I feel blessed with the opportunities I have been handed, and I am planning to continue saying yes to most of them, but I am still figuring things out on my own and winging it most of the time. All these things came with blood, sweat and tears, but it doesn’t stop here as I want to continue making wise decisions and enjoying every step of the way. That is the only path that will take me to where I want to end up at.
Laura Khamis is a 20-year-old is a freelance writer and English Literature undergrad whose work predominantly highlights the success of young, creative individuals with social and political references from time to time. Through her work, she aims to proudly embrace everything about creative youth culture and its influence on music, fashion and more. You can check out Laura’s portfolio of work at www.laurakhamis.com.
The Limit showcases the creativity that exists within the student population, creating a sense of community.