Born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, Colourist/Designer Hugo Froes was first inspired to be an artist by both his parents, from as early an age as 5 years old. Having lived through most of the latter years of the apartheid regime in South Africa, he received various artistic influences until his third year of high school, when he was privileged enough to be accepted to the National School of Arts in Johannesburg.
Upon completion, Hugo decided that it would be best going the design route, as it joined his love for technology with his love for art. After completing a very intense year of training in Graphic Design, Desktop Publishing and 3D animation at the Damelin Computer College, he decided it was time to move to new horizons, two days after his 20th birthday he moved to Portugal to start his profession career.
In 1999, he began his first job as assistant to freelance Graphic Designer Carlos Bravo, where he had the privilege to work on various well known Portuguese magazines, book covers and some websites.
Looking for new professional experiences, he accepted a position as Art Director at Mac&t (now known as Lable) in August 2001, giving him the opportunity to work on the creation of company images from logos all the way to promotional stands and websites. Unfortunately the company was small and the salary wasn’t paying the bills, so he would have to make yet another jump. This time to Spanish company El Corte Inglés S.A in 2002, where he first worked as an Art Finalist and then later as their Webmaster, responsible for all aspects pertaining to their website and it’s content.
Remembering his passion for comics, Hugo started delving once again into the area of comic creation, remembering the comics he created while in Art school just for fun with his friend. Upon researching this field on the internet he was marvelled to see the developments and changes in comic development. After trying out the various areas he found a certain aptitude and comfort in colouring, once again reminding him of all the studies in painting he had done, as well as dazzling him with the incredible changes and moods that could be created through colour. Now looking to expand his colouring to a full time job, Hugo is slowly hoping on taking the comic world by storm, always working on new colouring techniques so as not to limit his style or range.
Always looking for new challenges and evolving as a professional, Hugo has worked on various freelance projects, being the main letterer for Portuguese comic publisher VitaminaBD from 2000 – 2007, giving him the chance to do the adaptation of various graphic novels from their original language into Portuguese. These include such titles as Kingdom Come, Sillage (Franco-Belgian), Paradi Perdu (Franco-Belgian), and many more.
Hugo has also been known to delve into other areas, not in the Design or Colourist field, having been a Salsa (or Mambo in NY) dance teacher, having represented Portugal in various World Salsa Congresses as well as being part of the organising committee of those same congresses. Once again Hugo managed to find a new passion, that of teaching and developing new methods in teaching with his colleagues and more importantly his wife.
Now living in Portugal with his beautiful Portuguese wife Tania, he feels that it was a worthwhile change, and believes that there are no limits to our dreams.
First off, how do you pronounce your surname?
The FROE part is pronounced as FROY and the S at the end is actually said as a SH sound. Most English speaking people have difficulty at first, when I was a kid I was called everything from French to Fros, it was always a reason to laugh a bit.
What makes Hugo Froes Click?
Hmm… I would have to say that I love a challenge and problem solving. And there’s nothing greater than seeing a job well done. I love to try out new things and finding out how it all works.
What appealed toyou in comics?
While growing up, I was always given comics, I remember even before I could read them, my mom would buy me Batman and Superman comics, just because of the pictures and apparently I would sit for hours looking at them. Later on, it was just natural that I start collecting and I slowly started dreaming of working to create such great parallel universes on paper in little squares. It helped that while growing up all the good super heroes started appearing in good quality movies, like Tim Burtons Batman. A few years back I decided that the idea had been put on the backburner for too long, so I started delving again.
Now that you’re thinking of colouring comics, does that mean you’re leaving your design training behind?
Definitely not, I’m not going to throw away years of training, besides, I still love the challenges of creating great designs and working with newer technologies brings. I want to be able to do both, even if the designing part is in the comic field. Design is still one of my passions
You were born and raised in South Africa during the latter days of the apartheid regime and the first independent elections. What was it like living through such a huge political and social happening and did it influence your art?
Well, I won’t say it was easy, during the years I was growing up in South Africa, I never realised there was that distinction, but then I remember the first day that non white people were allowed to enter my school. As for the next few years, we were all worried, because often it seemed like the country was going to turn upside down and in certain ways it did. As for the influence it had on my art? Well I remember very often having to leave classes in the middle of the day because of bomb threats and later being kicked out of buildings because of a demonstration, it was all crazy. So it was nice to have a creative mind, since it helped to distract me from what was going on and hence from an early age I started creating new worlds and characters.
You seem to have a lot of different approaches to colouring, does that mean that a client never knows what look he’s going to get?
I like to work in various techniques, because I think that each type of sketch or ink defines differently the type of technique that should be applied and so if aclient asks for a specific type of style, I’m able go that way. But often the client already asked for the pencils/inks in a style that complements the desired style, so that makes it easy.
A lot of colourists are going the digital way. Are you strictly a digital colourist, and do you ever do anything traditionally?
As far as comics go, I do all my work digitally. I don’t know about the rest of the colourists out there, but I find it’s easier and has great effects that are harder or even impossible to achieve traditionally. I do like to occasionally dabble in traditional painting, and my wife is kind enough to decorate our house with some of them.
As a designer, are you modern or classical?
I think that’s hard to define, because a good designer should always try and meet the client’s needs and adapt the look to suit that. I suppose I have a certain style, of course, but I try and adapt the things depending on what the client requests. I also try and do research on what my colleagues in the field are doing, just to make sure I don’t go out of date.
What does you wife think of these pursuits into a career that’s not seen as main stream?
She’s great about it, she’s my greatest friend and support and my worst critic. It’s great, she’s honest with me, because she believes in me and knows my potential, so the first person I have to convince with any job is her.She’s got an incredible eye for someone who doesn’t work in the creative field. When she likes it, it means it’s at a good level to show to a client.
What can we hope to see from Hugo Froes in the future?
As a Colourist: I’ve got some projects in the works and hopefully I can get my art out there and recognised to the point where I can do it full time.
As a Designer: Well, if all goes well, I hope to be designing websites for all my colleagues to showcase their work and anything else I can get my hands on (I love anything involving creativity).
As a colourist
As a designer
As a letterer: