Rick Vermeulen (Hard Werken)

Rick Vermeulen is a designer famously know for the “Hard Werken” magazines, which uses anarchic designs contrary to modern day typography and design styles. Rick was born on June 14, 1950 in Schiedam, Netherlands. When he entered college he decided to take up graphic design as his major at Rotterdam Academy and later graduated in 1972. In 1975 he was later recruited by Rotterdam’s own employee Bert Bakker, to be apart of the graphic design workshops that they had. In doing this, artists and designers, including Vermeulen was able to create designs for events that had heavy cultural relevance. One of these events was Rotterdam’s own film festival. Wanting to expand on the recurrent trope of culture, he and a few colleagues decided to band together and create ‘Hard Werken’. A magazine that breaks the shackles of modern day design and plunges the viewers/readers into a world of culture. This magazine was a big deal and caused a lot of positive national responses. Eventually, they created a company underneath the name of the magazine ‘Hard Werken’. Within this company each designer, created and managed their own products and designs; which would’ve later been added to any new editions to the magazine itself. However, this peak with Rick’s year was soon followed by a bumpy ride. The company soon began to find themselves in deep financial trouble. This later resulted in them eventually moving out of the Rotterdam region to Amsterdam. Following this they later teamed up with the packaging design company in Amsterdam called Ten Cate Bergmans; that later changed its name to Inizio. By the early, 1990’s the Rotterdam designer had become a recurrent visitor to the western world, specifically the United States. This eventually led him to start teaching courses at Cranbrook, CalArts and our own North Carolina State University. Two years later he took over the Hard Werken office in Los Angeles and has been thriving since. In his most recent works, he has created two typefaces for Fuse and also does freelance publishing. Rick Vermeulen and his team went against all odds in the design world with Hard Werken and it has most definitely left a huge impact on the ways that we see art, design and typography. Despite creating a huge name and brand for himself, Rick states that adjusting to the sort of “fame” he was receiving was pretty hard, as well as adjusting to new territory such as the United States, which has a very broad view of the design world. He quickly learned that the design world in the western world was much more broad than that of Europe and specific companies want designs that focus solely on their products and audience, versus something that can be used for anyone. He also stated how the presence of hierarchy was extremely prevalent within the huge companies in America. That in Europe once you’re turned down one time, you get no more chances, but when he came to America he could get turned down 10 times and was finally given the opportunity he desired. Now the designer is currently back home in Rotterdam, continuing to do freelance work and manage Hard Werken, he stated that he spent 7 years in America and acquired quite some fame but he didn’t want to be forgotten back home.


Poynor Rick. Reputations: Rick Vermeulen. Eye Magazine. 1996