Today we have someone special for you, a Professional Illustrator by the name of Rod Hunt. A Freelance Illustrator that has worked for clients that most people only dream of, these include Top Gear, FHM, BBC, Barclays, Vodafone to name a few. I asked Rod a few questions and this is what he had to say.
Artist Interviewed: Rod Hunt
Location: London, UK
1. Welcome to Creativeoverflow can you take some time to tell us a bit about yourself and where you are from?
I’m an artist & Illustrator 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!
Some of my many clients include Barclays, BBC, Computer Arts Magazine, Dorling Kindersley, The Economist, FHM, Maxim, The Observer, Orange, Random House, Top Gear & Vodafone.
For the last 13 years I’ve been based in Greenwich, London, where I also have my studio by the River Thames. I’m also currently Chairman of the UK Association of Illustrators. The AOI was established in 1973 to advance and protect illustrator’s rights and encourage professional standards.
2. You have some Amazing Illustrations, have you studied at all? If so where and what did you study?
I studied at the Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University & have a Ba(Hons) in Illustration. I graduated in 1994 & have been an Illustrator full time since 1996.
3. You have really composed some amazing work through the years, but a project that catches my attention is the one you did for Top Gear – Where’s Stig? Tell us a bit about it.
Having worked on & off for years for Top Gear magazine in 2008 the Top Gear team asked me to create “an unrealistic cartoon simulation” of the Top Gear studio for the Big Book of Top Gear 2009. When I completed that, it got them thinking that we could expand the style into a whole book, so the idea of Where’s Stig? was born. It’s essentially a Where’s Wally/Waldo? spoof involving The Stig? Top Gear’s resident tame racing driver. You have to find him in various scenes based on & inspired by episodes from the show, like the Vietnam & Botswana specials. I was immediately interested in the concept & the challenge of creating such a book as there’s such a wealth of visual material from the show. It’s been 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.
4. Besides Top Gear you have an amazing Client Database, is there a secret that you use to get hold of these projects?
It’s very important to get out there and get your work seen by as many people as possible & you should never be afraid to show people your work. You maybe the best designer/illustrator in the world, but if no one sees your work, you won’t get commissioned. So I spend a lot of time & resources on promoting myself though direct mail, the internet, press, etc. Above all, the best advert is doing great work.
5. Being a Full time Illustrator you draw a lot and with that comes tools, what does your workstation consist of and what are the tools of your trade?
Pencil, biro, sketchbook, paper, iMac, Wacom tablet, scanner & Adobe Illustrator CS4.
All my work is produced digitally, but before I go near the computer I start doodling ideas and compositions in an A5 sketchbook with a pencil or biro. These are very quick and throwaway. Once I worked out the rough idea and composition & gathered any visual reference I might need, I work on a larger finished pencil drawing, which I then use as a guide for drawing the final artwork with a graphics tablet in Adobe Illustrator. For me it’s important to keep the hands on feel with my work, despite producing the final artwork on the computer. At the end of the day the computer should just be seen another way of making a mark on a page.
It’s also important to give myself enough thinking & doodling time at the beginning of a project before producing a finished rough drawing. That’s where the real hard work is done & is the foundation of a great piece of work. After that, it’s producing the final artwork in Illustrator & usually there’s not a great deal of change compositionally from rough to final artwork.
6. If something ever happened and you lost the ability to continue illustrating what would you do for a job?
I’ve been quite involved with music on the events, promotion & management side in the past, so I’d might go back to that. Or with my knowledge of the Illustration industry I’d maybe look at becoming an artists agent or consultant.
7. Is their any big projects you are currently working on that we could look out for?
I’m currently working on another huge book that will be out in the autumn, so the next six months are predominately taken up with that. You’ll have to wait until September to see the results. There’s also a couple of other exciting projects that I’ll be starting once that’s complete.
In July I’ll also be flying out to Los Angeles speak about the European Illustration industry at ICON6 the Illustration Conference.
8. Thanks for taking the time to be interviewed on Creativeoverflow, any last tips for up and coming artists?
Perseverance. It can take quite some time to get your creative career really established.
Your body of work is your livelihood, and you should be entitled to the financial benefits of your talent and hard work, so maintain control over your Copyright in your Illustrations. There are very few occasions that clients need to own the Copyright in your work.
If you’re an Illustrator I’d recommend joining the AOI. They’re constantly campaigning to protect all illustrators’ rights, and if you need advice on pricing commissions, contracts, promotion, etc, it really pays to get help from the experts.
Thanks again Rod for answering our questions.