ID recently interviewed London Illustrator Rod Hunt, a very successful illustrator and the Chairman of the Association of Illustrators (AOI).
We want to thank Rod for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk to us.
Please introduce yourself and what you do?
I’m a London based Illustrator/designer who has built a reputation for retro tinged Illustrations & detailed character filled landscapes with UK & international clients in publishing, design, advertising & new media, for everything from book covers to advertising campaigns, & even the odd large scale installation too! I’m also the illustrator behind the book Where's Stig? for the BBC's hit TV show Top Gear. Where's Stig? was the 35th bestselling UK book of 2009, selling in excess of a quarter of a million copies.
Some of my many clients include Barclays, BBC, Computer Arts Magazine, Dorling Kindersley, Financial Times, The Economist, FHM, Maxim, Random House, The Observer, Orange, Top Gear & Vodafone
I’m also currently Chairman of the Association of Illustrators. The AOI was established in 1973 to advance and protect illustrator’s rights and encourage professional standards.
When did you know you wanted to be an illustrator/artist? What inspired you?
I was always a prolific drawer as a kid, but I really didn't consider art as a career until I was 17. Originally I was planning on pursuing biochemistry & horticulture, & was studying towards that. I was studying art just for fun. But the realisation grew on me that I wasn't really enjoying studying the sciences any more & as I spent all my time drawing, art college beckoned. Comics were a big influence on me & inspired me to draw, especially British comic 2000AD. I probably had it at the back of my mind to be a comic artist, but once I went to art college I found a wider world.
When you first started, how did you work out how much to charge for illustration commissions?
Pricing can be a difficult area if your not experienced, & you can easily undersell yourself or be taken advantage of if you’re not careful & well informed. I joined the Association of Illustrators (AOI) HYPERLINK "http://www.theaoi.com" www.theaoi.com at the beginning of my career for their advice & guidance on prices. If you need advice on pricing commissions, contracts, promotion, etc, it really pays to get help from the experts.
They’re also constantly campaigning to protect all illustrators’ rights, and as the only body to represent illustrators and campaign for their rights in the UK, the AOI has successfully increased the standing of illustration as a profession.
Do you have a favourite project you’ve done? If so, what is it?
My bestselling book Where’s Stig? for Top Gear is one of the proudest achievements. It was a challenging & creatively rewarding project, & was great to solely concentrate on one huge project for so long. Where’s Stig? has done phenomenally well since it’s launch. It’s pretty crazy to think that I’ve had a UK Top 10 bestseller & sold over a quarter of a million books!
Apart from Where’s Stig?, one of my most exciting projects was a huge 5m x 2m interactive environmental installation for the award winning Lightbox Museum & Gallery in Woking. The project stretched me to the limit due to the involved design process, it’s physical size & the immense amount of detail.
Who are your favourite artists/illustrators alive or dead?
The American painter Edward Hopper has been a big influence due to lighting, ability to capture a moment in time.
A small selection of the contemporary illustrators I admire include Serge Seidlitz, Boo Cook, Russell Cobb, Mark Ryden, Catalina Estrada, Andy Smith, Gary Taxali, Gary Baseman & Jon Burgerman.
What is the best part about what you do?
Getting to draw & be creative everyday. Being a freelance Illustrator also means often you don’t know what you’ll be doing week to week. I enjoy being in charge of my own destiny & creating my own opportunities The next phone call or email could bring that unexpected call for really exciting job.
What’s a normal day for Rod Hunt?
After breakfast I’ll walk or ride my bicycle to my studio, getting there by 10am. My studio is right by the Thames Barrier on River Thames in Greenwich in an old Victorian Warehouse at Second Floor Studios & Arts HYPERLINK "http://www.secondfloor.co.uk" www.secondfloor.co.uk . I have a 220 SqFt room to myself & currently there are over 70 artists working here (& growing), so it’s a pretty creative environment & there’s always someone around. I’ll catch up on any work emails to start with, before starting work on whatever project I’m currently working on. I’ll usually work until 8pm at the latest, depending on my workload, before leaving for home.
Do you attend many gallery shows or exhibitions? What was the last one you went to?
I try to regularly go to exhibitions, & being based in London means there’s always a lot on. I last exhibition I went to was Decode: Digital Design Sensations at the Victoria & Albert Museum, an exhibition showing the latest developments in digital and interactive design, from small screen based graphics to large-scale installations. Illustration exhibitions I’ve been to recently include Noma Bar at KK Outlet and Lyrics & Type at East Gallery.
What’s coming up next for Rod Hunt?
I’m currently working on the follow up to Where’s Stig? for the next few months. It’s a huge undertaking doing a project on this scale, so that’s been taking up the first six month of this year. It’s out in September, so not long to wait to see the results.
Agent or no Agent?
I don’t currently have an agent in the UK. I’ve very hot on self promotion & know my stuff when negotiating jobs, so don’t feel the need to have one . I am though represented in the US by the prestigious New York agent Bernstein & Andriulli HYPERLINK "http://www.ba-reps.com" www.ba-reps.com. The US being a very large & different market it’s difficult to promote myself as extensively there as I do in the UK, so having one of the highest profile agents co-ordinate my career there has been a strategic move to maximise my exposure & opportunities.
One style or many? Why?
One style that’s adaptable to many situations. I think it’s important to indulge your personal interests in your work & create your own singular unique voice, as that is what will set you apart from everyone else. You have to be memorable to clients, & having more than one style in my eyes detracts from that.
Early bird or night owl?
I probably should go to bed earlier than I do.
Donald Duck or Daffy Duck?
Daffy. Donald is desthpicable.