Words Are Objects is the one-person studio of Colombian artist and graphic designer María José Castillo. Currently living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, their work focuses on printmaking, lettering, publication design, illustration and installation pieces.

Maria José has worked in the commercial field for publishing agencies, graphic design studios, cultural organizations and artists such as: ARTBO, IDARTES, the Colombian Ministry of Culture, and projects awarded by AIGA. Their art has been showcased in galleries in Colombia and the United States. They have been the recipient of awards and scholarships by TEDx, the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and ICETEX.

Along with commercial work, María José cultivates an art practice that feeds off of their curiosity with language and communication. Their conceptual approach incorporates the analysis of cultural background related to the way we read the written word, not only as a functional element in a discourse, but also as an object existing in a spatial field.

María José’s work is heavy on formal exploration of type and shapes, with a refreshing view on how type, layout and color affect the way a message is read.

Always able to maintain a seasoned eye on contemporary graphic design, they also dive deep in a quirky and colorful universe with their illustration work, often accompanied by lettering exploration.


Photo by Shun Jie Yong.


The Manhattan Toy Company - 2018 | Present

Currently María José is part of the creative team, being in charge of product design, packaging, illustrations, and developing print and digital assets for marketing.

MCAD DesignWorks - 2017 | 2018

María José was part of the Graphic Design team at DesignWorks, the in-house graphic design studio at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, developing design solutions for both the college and a select group of businesses and non-profit organizations.

Tangrama - 2012 | 2016

Graphic design studio, focused on cultural and artistic projects: catalogues, websites for artists and exhibition design. María José worked mainly on editorial, web and exhibition projects.

Puntoaparte Editores - 2009 | 2012

Publishing agency specialized in commercial book design. María José’s work there was mainly focused on design and layout of serial publications.

Selected exhibitions and accolades

Thirty Three Views Plus Two Exhibition | 2019

Sweedish Bank Building, Saint Paul, MN.

MCBA Collegiate Fellowship Award | 2018

Minnesota Center for Book Arts, MN.

SooVAC + MCAD MFA, An Exhibition in Honor of Suzy Greenberg | 2018

Soo Visual Arts Center, Minneapolis, MN.

Made at MCAD | 2018
Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Main Gallery, Minneapolis, MN.
TEDxMinneapolis “Why Not” Artist Showcase - Attendee Experience Award | 2017
Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts, Minneapolis, MN
Talented Young Artists (Artistas Jóvenes Talentos) Scholarship | 2016

ICETEX, Colombia.

Merit Scholarship | 2016
Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, MN