This week we say hello to an artist whose work can have the effect of a strong codeine pill on sore eyeholes.
Robert Hunter is a London-based illustrator responsible for the bewitching graphic novellas Map of Days and The New Ghost, both published on Nobrow. You may have also spotted his often haunting editorial work in the likes of Printed Pages, The Guardian Journal and The New York Times.
We’re probably most in awe – or jealous, depending on the day – of his collaboration with Jon Hopkins on a teaser animation for the Asleep Versions EP. Seriously, Jon Hopkins and animation. Does a brief get any better?
We caught up with Robert to get his view on all things comics and illustration.
If a tired old man asked you to describe what you do, what would you tell him?
Well, when I describe what I do to older relatives at a family gathering, I usually say that I make images for magazines and newspapers to which they reply “like cartoons” and I say yes to move the subject of conversation onto something more interesting.
Your work spans comics, advertising and editorial. Is it difficult to adapt your style to each brief?
With each brief there are a lot of variables that can alter the way I work. Usually with advertising there is almost no time to develop anything your working on and it quite often will have to be the first thing you think of, purely because the powers at be are very demanding. But when I get to work on comics or books, development time is factored in and so the outcome of my work probably changes for that reason.
In fact, how would you describe your style? It’s instantly recognisable, how do you create it?
It’s hard to say really, I didn’t go out of my way to try and create a ‘style’. I think it’s a whole combination of things, from what and how I drew as a child to themes and atmospheres I enjoy reading about. At University I was really into printmaking and learned all I could about the selection of print processes they had there. I think that putting my projects through that process gave me useful limitations like using a limited palette.
Unlike in other art forms, illustrators don’t seem to get grouped into waves or movements so much. But are there other working artists that you do feel a kin with?
There are many studios near full of illustrators whose work I admire and I share with a couple myself, so it’s quite an inspiring area. Illustrators I feel a kin with are probably the ones who I know the best personally, as we share a similar taste in books, films and music. I went to uni and shared a studio for years with Jon Mcnaught and although our work isn’t that similar there is an atmosphere to his work that I can really relate to. If you don’t already know his work you should immerse yourself in it as soon as you can.
What’s a dream project for you? Is there a ‘big one’ you’re dying for?
There are a few. I would love to work for Pentagram on anything, it would be great to work with the designer David Pearson on a book (we have come close in the past) and I think the ultimate dream project would be to write and direct my own animated feature film. I’m reaching for the stars there.
Before leaving, could you impart a lasting tip or nugget of advice to any would-be artists that might be reading?
I think it’s important (at least for me it is anyway), to work on your own personal projects along with the commercial ones.