When you think of all of the world’s great cities, cosmopolitan locales such as New York, London, Paris, Rome and Tokyo are the ones that often spring to mind. Not a lot of thought is given to Latin America, and even when one does, it’s often for the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. You probably don’t think about Bogotá, the capital and largest city in Colombia… and that was exactly the impetus behind New York-based designer Justin Negard‘s beautiful coffee table book BOGOTÁ.
“The purpose of the book is to show the real Bogotá in all its color and beauty,” says Justin, founder of Future Boy Design. “The city is a work of art in itself, with vibrant color saturating its buildings, cars, fashion, and food. The people are warm and welcoming, full of music and laughter. They deserve more than the Hollywood stereotypes of Pablo Escobar, guerrillas in the jungle and cocaine.”
“The purpose of the book is to show the real Bogotá in all its color and beauty… they deserve more than the Hollywood stereotypes of Pablo Escobar, guerrillas in the jungle and cocaine.”
Justin’s wife is Colombian, which afforded him the opportunity to see Bogotá in a very real and beautiful way. “I explored the Spanish Colonial neighborhoods in the center of the city, which once served as the home of Simon Bolivar and the heart of the Bolivarian Revolution,” he reminisces. “I saw incomprehensibly crowded market places, gorgeous modern districts, and chillingly creepy ghettos. I frequently took very long bus rides outside the city as well, spending several days at a time in the surrounding small towns, visiting churches, salt mines, lagoons and mountain tops.”
The great challenge for Justin was making sure that he captured a comprehensive view of life in Bogotá. “It was important for me to take on new opportunities, explore varied regions, and occasionally stray into dangerous situations, so that I would have an honest image of what it means to live in this bustling place,” he explained. This led him to photograph everything from soccer matches to gorgeous natural spectacles. “Perhaps my personal favorite moment included ringside access to a local luchador event in the seedy part of town. Now that was fun!”
“Perhaps my personal favorite moment included ringside access to a local luchador event in the seedy part of town. Now that was fun!”
The book’s actual design is reminiscent of the city itself. “I kept things simple, focusing on color to convey an emotion or to change the mood of the viewer as he or she moves from page to page,” says Justin. “Text was kept to a minimum, and was often presented as an artistic accomplice to the photograph itself, so that everything complimented one another. I wanted the exterior covers of the book to be very colorful and simple, similar to the painting style of many buildings in Bogotá. In this way, I hope that the book will look like a little piece of Colombia as it sits on a shelf or table, and in some small way, I hope it helps to change people’s perceptions of Bogotá.”
Tags: Justin Negard