In Talks With – Illustrator Rob Hunter.
Recently we ran an interview feature on the Young Colossus project, an all new music and illustration venture brought to us by Orlando Weeks of The Maccabees. The first release from Young Colossus saw a 6 piece soundtrack accompanied by a stunning 24 page book of illustrations. Illustrations by a first class artist by the name of Rob Hunter. Rob’s work is much different to anything I have seen before, with the use of hand drawn elements combined with incredible and organic colour pallets, building up deep and detailed works that truly tell a story. Which is fitting as many of Rob’s works are printed as books. After spending hours looking through the Young Colossus book, I was interested to find out more about the man responsible for the stunning images within. I caught up with Rob to do exactly that.
Hey Rob, how are you doing today? What are your plans for the week?
Hello. I’m fine thank you, I’m a little tired. This week I am working on a new release for Young Colossus, some book cover illustrations and teaching at a college, which meant I had to leave my flat at 4.00am (that’s why I’m a little tired at the moment).
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background as an artist? Where are you from?
I’m originally from Stoke-on-Trent and grew up there with a brief spell in America where my family lived for a few years. I studied art and design after leaving secondary school and focused on illustration at college. After leaving university I started working on commercial projects and helped set up a studio/gallery space with some friends in Bristol. I continued creating my own books and prints along side my commercial work and after a couple of years in my second studio that was set up by another group of friends I moved to London where I have lived and worked for just over a year.
Your recent collaboration on the Young Colossus project was fantastic; the match between the tracks by Orlando Weeks and the thought provoking illustrations by yourself was a great combination. A cheese and wine perhaps! What was this project like to work on?
The project was really fun to work on, Orlando and Nic Nell were great to work with. Even though they both had quite a strong idea of what they wanted visually to accompany their music, I never felt restricted in creating the artwork. I had to produce the book from nothing to having it printed and bound in two months (which was my own estimate), so time was quite tight but I think that helps because I had to focus on it everyday and got into a good routine. Meeting up with Orlando to talk through ideas was always fun because we would often leave with so much more to try and add to the book. One meeting was meant to be at his flat but he was locked out so we had a bottle of wine and some nibbles on the stairwell whilst I showed him some sketches. Maybe that’s where your getting the cheese and wine combination from!
How would you describe your style in your own words?
I find it very difficult to describe my work because I know all the things I’m trying to change about it. I dont see it as a settled look or process and often I am surprised at what I’ve made, Young Colossus being a prime example.
What has been one of your most memorable pieces/series of work to date?
I think probably my first book The New Ghost and Young Colossus. They were nice long projects that I could add alot to. In particular The New Ghost because it was my first full story to be published and the writing side was a big challenge. It’s something I want to push and possible direct towards writing for a film.
A lot of your work is printed as books or short stories, what is it about the medium of print you enjoy so much?
I am often inspired by short stories so maybe it’s something to do with wanting to recreate a similar object. I think the touch and feel of a book or print is very important to me. I almost don’t see my work finished until it exists printed.
Your work appears to be built up from so many different elements, textures and colours, where do you find that you draw most of your inspiration from?
I’m very interested in drawing, painting and printmaking so I tend to look at a lot of artists that concentrate on these traditional techniques. These days I am looking at a lot of furniture designers and pattern makers, which I think probably adds to my interest in texture and form.
What would be your dream brief?
It’s quite difficult to say. I think it would almost have to be a complete surprise or an unusual process. One of my main goals is to try and have a film made of one of my stories that I could help adapt and art direct.
Are you currently working on any interesting pieces?
I am, I’m not sure how much I can say without getting into trouble because each one is very much secret. I can say that I’m currently involved in projects with Phiadon, The V&A and something for Young Colossus.
What are you listening to at the moment?
At the moment I am listening to my friend Gerard Blacks‘ solo album under the name Babe. It’s really incredible and is my favourite album at the moment. It’s frustrating because it hasn’t been released for the world to enjoy yet but I know Domino records have been listening to it so keep your ears peeled.