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Benjamín Villegas: Book maker

Benjamín Villegas: Book maker

Text: Stella Feferbaum

Photos: Villegas Family Archive

"Villegas Editores is the result of a personal search after several creative attempts... that led me to conclude that developing and editing books is what I like to do most in life." B.V.

It was not optional. Benjamín Villegas was born into a family with a publishing streak, in a world addicted to books. His mother, an insatiable reader, instilled in him from a young age that inexhaustible passion for letters.

The relationship with printed paper, that constant that had marked the trajectory of their ancestors, would also mark theirs. His maternal grandfather, Manuel José Jiménez, in addition to being a writer and journalist, was the founder of a printing press and three magazines with great impact in Colombian history at the time: Patria , Sal y Pimienta and Fantoches . Benjamín, in turn, still very young, published El Alepruz , a magazine with the affectionate nickname that his grandfather coined for him.

Bachelor of Gimnasio Moderno, where he directed the unforgettable El Aguilucho , and architect of the Universidad de los Andes (1970), a profession he never practiced, he was a designer and editor of the magazines Lampa and Presencia , as well as the creator of numerous institutional logos. While he was just a university student and when the graphic design career in the country was still in its infancy, he was invited to teach a lecture on layout and graphic design at the Jorge Tadeo Lozano University, a center that, in 1972, awarded him an honorary degree at the subject.

Director of Villegas & Asociados between 1973 and 1985, he was also in charge of two journalistic programs for television —“La Mansarda” and “Ediciones Especial”—, produced two documentaries — El mundo florece en Colombia and Acrobacia China —, and designed and edited his first 30 large-format illustrated books.

Since the founding of Villegas Editores in 1986—whose motto, “The good image of Colombia,” reveals his passion for the country—he has been the president and editor. In this period he has created, designed and edited nearly 300 large-format, high-quality illustrated books, most of them on topics of our culture: art, archeology, crafts, architecture, photography, history, heritage, nature, cooking, sports and others. . And, in the enriching Golden Collection of General Interest, it has also disseminated the philosophical, historical, literary and sociological work of numerous Colombian authors, in addition to biographies and various essays.

Representative of the country in more than 40 international book fairs, he has given numerous conferences on the subject of his work at different universities in the country and abroad.

Among the recognitions received, the decorations of President Iván Duque Márquez with the Cross of Boyacá in the rank of knight stand out, for his cultural work with his books about Colombia for 50 years, of the Mayor of Bogotá, Julio César Sánchez for his books about the city, from the Bogotá Improvement and Ornament Society, from the Colombian Chamber of Books, from the Simón Bolívar University of Barranquilla, from the National Army, from the Colombian Air Force and from the Municipality of Anapoima. In 2013, Proyecto Diseño magazine awarded him the Steel Pencil in the Life and Work category.

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