Hugo Herrera Artist Interview

Sports Camera

Hugo Herrera

Can you recall the first time you realized you were going to be an artist? What were your earliest impressions?
When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time drawing, creating objects using cardboard, paper, or anything I could get my hands on. I also remember making things like plushies or masks by cutting and sewing fabric together. As far back as I can remember, I planned to be an artist when I grew up.

Who or what influenced your art when you were young?
In my house, there was a large variety of books on many topics: art history and museum art, as well as encyclopedias. Many of these books–intended for children–had colorful images and memorable illustrations. As a child, I would spend hours flipping through them, studying the illustrations. Later, I discovered the works of Norman Rockwell. I was amazed how this talented artist painted reflections of American culture. I was also impressed by MAD magazine’s cartoonists, Jack Davis, Mort Drucker and Aragones. My influences were from many different sources.

Do you remember what your first artwork looked like? Do you still have it?
I remember that I used to love to draw sharks. The kids in my classroom were so amazed and would always ask me to draw more of them. Unfortunately, I didn’t save any of those drawings.

Why did you choose illustration as your life’s work instead of, for example, filmmaking, law, or even medicine?
I like art in all its manifestations; whether it’s painting, music, filmmaking, etc., but in my case, I think destiny played a key role. When a great opportunity knocks, you’d better open the door. That’s what happened to me: a vacancy in an illustration department in a big, local newspaper many years ago while I was still in school. That job really opened my eyes. It provided a clue as to which path to follow.

Did you study art in school?
Yes. I have a degree from the School of Visual Arts at UANL, Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, in Mexico.

Where does your inspiration come from; your impulse to make art? Do you have a source for your ideas?
Many of my ideas come from everyday situations. I believe it’s important, as an artist, to keep your senses alert. Similar to a house with many windows and doors, I am always open to allow inspiration and ideas to enter, like a breath of fresh air.

How would you describe the process of creating art?
My process starts with inspiration. Then, I like to visualize what I might create. Once I’ve spent some time doing that, I begin to sketch my ideas. This is a very important part of my process and may involve lots of changes until a sketch “pops.” I like to allow for any spontaneity that may occur.

Do you have a favorite artist? What is it about that artist’s work you like?
I admire many artists, mostly 20th century artists. They’re from very different art movements: from Cubism, Picasso; Surrealism, Dalí; Mexican muralists, Diego Rivera and Siqueiros; Pop Art, Warhol and Lichtenstein; and Op Art, Vasarely.
What I like about these artists is that they dared. They saw things differently; they fought against conventions. That’s really something I admire.

If you could do something else, other than creating art, what would it be?
I would need to be doing something which gives me an outlet for my creativity and my interest in design; possibly film or even sewing.

Do you remember your first set of paints, pens, or markers?
When I was a child, a favorite aunt asked me to make a plush toy. In order to thank me, she gave me a beautiful set of watercolor paints from Germany, which I treasured for years.

Do you have a favorite artist supply, a favorite method, or favorite location, where you like to create artwork?
I use basic stuff, not fancy at all. The reason is that living in a small city, I don’t have many options. Supplies that I can’t find here, I buy online.
My favorite location: I really enjoy creating art in my studio more than anywhere else.

If you could give a viewer clues to understanding your art, what would you say?
I like to keep things simple in my life and in my art. If complexity arises in my art, I find it distracting from the fun and enjoyment I want my art to project.

Do you think illustration has the eye of the public or could public awareness of this field be improved upon?
I think that in the U.S., Canada, and in Europe, the field of illustration gained a very respectful status decades ago. However, in Mexico, this sadly, is not the case. Illustrators such as myself still need to fight for recognition here. Progress is slow but it’s happening in this country too.

Why does art matter to you? Why might it matter to the world?
For me, my art is about expressing my ideas, feelings, and points of view. Through art, we are able to describe the world as we see it and understand it. I believe art builds bridges, fills gaps, and seeks for reflection. I think that is the reason art is important to me. When nothing else is left, art will still be here.

If you could look back or forward a hundred years, do you think the life of an artist was or will be better than today?
I think the present is always better than the past.