Following youthful stints as a private in the Dutch Army, sailing up and down the Rhine as a barge worker, and driving a delivery truck across the back roads of Holland—all while enrolled in correspondence and evening design courses—Henk realized it was time to take his education a bit more seriously and entered the design and typography program of the Koninklijke Academie van Beelden Kunsten (Royal Academy of Fine Arts) in The Hague, The Netherlands. From there he went on to practice graphic design in Amsterdam until coming to the United States to pursue an M.F.A. at Yale University.
In 2004, he founded HvADesign, a multidisciplinary design studio located in DUMBO, Brooklyn, New York. The studio has worked on hundreds of projects spanning print, environmental and screen-based media. With clients from the cultural, publishing, innovation and educational realms, projects have ranged from brand identities and book design to web design and spatial graphics (see “work”).
In addition to his studio practice, Henk is a senior critic in the graphic design department at Yale University’s School of Art, and a member of the faculty since 1999. Prior to this appointment, he taught design at the University of Texas (Austin), the School of Visual Arts (New York) and the University of the Arts (Philadelphia). Since 2012, he is also an adjunct lecturer at Parsons School of Design (New York). Additionally, Henk conducts design and typography workshops around the world, most recently in Shanghai, Tel Aviv, and Monterrey, Mexico (see “nog meer”).
Personal projects include Ranch Gates of the Southwest (Trinity Press, San Antonio, TX, 2009), coauthored with Daniel M. Olsen; a billboard initiative to promote respect for diversity and inclusion with NYC’s “Artists for Public Service Announcements”; a typographic installation about economic inequality for the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Bolzano, Italy); and Jan Willem van Assen: A Boisterous Talent, documenting the work of his late father. Currently underway—in collaboration with Tom Strong—is a catalog of Yale University posters from 1950 ‘til today (see “nog meer”).