From when he could first hold a pencil, Hans Due has drawn and visually formulated his impressions. As a teenager his interest became more focused. At evening classes he received instruction in drawing and painting, while having his creative powers tested and meeting like-minded individuals. This all strengthened his aspiration towards an education in fine art.
He left secondary school with a dream of training to be a draughtsman, painter or sculptor. There was much verbal encouragement from his parents, but beyond this there was no tradition nor the finances for further support. But finances were needed, so as a first step he found work in a print shop.
Here he enjoyed his first contact with the established Copenhagen art world. By good fortune, the firm’s customers included several museums and artists to whom he was often despatched with proofs and colour samples for approval. He took advantage of this contact and established good relations with a number of the artists.
Three artists went as far as to take him on as their pupil: the illustrator Des Asmussen, painter August Tørsleff and the sculptor, Professor Gottfred Eickhoff. They were each in their field authorities in the established Danish art scene, something of which he was initially unaware. They were very different personalities and their equally different criticisms, advice and tutelage made for a highly instructive period.
At the print shop, he experienced the dynamism of the advertising industry of the late 1950s. He was inspired by the industry’s furious pulse and succeeded in gaining an apprenticeship at a graphic design studio. This was a severe disappointment for the three artists who had hoped to see him at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts – and going for a “commercial” training, this was about as low as an artist could stoop…
The graphical training was of great benefit. Beyond graphical methods, he learnt the full range of drawing techniques and routines, such as the use of pencil, pen, brush, photo, film, colours, materials, etc. After work, he pursued his artistic ambitions and, among other places, drew at the Royal Academy’s life-drawing school in Nyhavn.
As the end of his apprenticeship approached, it was also clear that, if he wanted access to more important and challenging tasks, this would require broader theoretical knowledge. He therefore applied to and was accepted into the Graphic Arts Institute of Denmark’s design studio. At the time, admission here was conditional on a graphical education and passing an admission test – and they only accepted 12 students a year. The two-year programme combined theory and practice, divided into lectures during the daytime and assignments outside of school hours – so evenings and weekends became part of the study period.
In June 1964, he graduated, bursting with energy, inspiration and a desire for new creative challenges. His first steps were to test out his ambitions in Paris, where he worked in graphics and photography – but ambitions and finances were not well matched. Back in Copenhagen, he started freelancing for printers, publishers and advertising agencies. Then followed a period of employment with various advertising agencies and design firms.
In 1974 he set up his own company specialising in communication, corporate identity and design. The commissions here ranged widely, from solutions for total design concepts to identity programmes, logos, graphic design, photography, product development, product design, exhibitions, interior design and architecture.
There were many exciting and challenging commissions, which, with the aid of many skilled colleagues, turned into sound solutions for a wide range of private, industrial and public-sector customers. That the commissions became “solutions” is borne out by a good number of diplomas and prizes – and not least by customers, some of whom have followed the firm since its establishment in 1974.
But his heart has always belonged to the visual arts, which he has cultivated intensely alongside day-to-day assignments. In 2005 he decided to concentrate exclusively on the visual arts. He resigned from the firm and set up a studio from where he works full time on graphics and painting.
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