Interview with a pro – Rod Hunt

Interview With A Pro Rod Hunt

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to interview the fabulous Rod Hunt this week. He’s an illustrator who I admire a great deal so sit back and have a read.

You can get in touch with Rod in a number of ways, visit his website, follow him on twitter or check out his Flickr feed

1) If you could start by telling me a little about yourself. What is it you do, how long have you been doing it and what sort of clients do you do it for?

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

Interview With A Pro Rod Hunt

2) What qualifications (if any) do you have?

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.

rodhunt b-movie city

3) Do you think formal training/qualifications are important these days?

In Illustration it’s the quality of the work that counts to clients & qualifications are on the whole pretty irrelevant. I don’t think any client has ever asked what my results were. But what being at college does give is 3 or 4 years to develop your skills, thought processes & the freedom to experiment. Of course the real leaning about the business of illustration starts once you graduate & launch yourself into setting up your career.

rodhunt fishy sub

4) How would you describe your style?

Drawing based, retro tinged, detailed character filled landscapes inspired by contemporary culture kind of fits I think. I often get mentioned as being pixel art because of the isometric perspective & detail in lots of my work, even though it’s all vector based.

rodhunt hero of the nation

5) Robots feature a lot in your work. Why is this? What is it you like about them?

I think it’s important to indulge your personal interests in your work & create your own unique voice, as that is what will set you apart from everyone else. So given the chance I’ll draw things that I like whether that’s robots, monsters or just the plain weird.

I grew up with Science Fiction films like Star Wars, The Day the Earth Stood Still & Forbidden Planet, & old TV shows like Flash Gordon & Star Trek. Their design aesthetic definitely stayed with me & their visions of the future are still what I think the future should look like. And of course the robots were always cool! I also owned a few old tin robot toys as a kid, which were amongst my favorite toys.

rodhunt robot love

6) What piece of work are you most proud of to date and why?

Apart from my recent Where’s Stig? book, one of my most challenging & exciting projects was a huge interactive environmental installation for the award winning Lightbox museum & Gallery in Woking, UK. The project stretched me to the limit due to the involved design process, it’s physical size & the immense amount of detail.

It’s a graphic lightbox covering a final area of 5m (w) x 2m (h). The content is based on what Woking is doing to support environmental issues/concerns within the city. The visitor is given a selection of push buttons with facts/questions that light up specific activities within the illustration. The illustration needed to closely represent the content and convey the identity of Woking and some of its key features.

rodhunt lightbox display

7) Could you describe to me your working process. How do you receive a brief and what stages do you go through to get to the end project?

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.

rodhunt zombies apocalypse

8) Where do you generally get most of your commissions from? Word of mouth, marketing etc?

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 do a huge amount of marketing & my work comes to me from a mixture of sources, including word of mouth. I spend in the region of 15-20% of my turnover on promotion every year. This would include things like direct mailers, internet portfolio sites, entering competitions, etc.

I also utilise the power of the internet a lot, blogging, twitter, design networking sites, flickr & interviews, which leads to enquiries from all around the world.

rodhunt studio

9) You were elected as chairman of Association of Illustrators in August. How did that come about and what exactly is involved in that role?

I’ve sat on the Board of Directors of the Association of Illustrators (AOI) for around 6 year or so & was elected as Chairman in August 2009. I feel greatly honoured to be elected as the AOI’s Chairman, a hugely important role for the Association and for British illustration. As someone who’s career has directly benefited from the help, training and expert advice of the AOI, I know first hand the value of being a member and the confidence it gives you in your career. As Chairman I’m responsible, along with the other Directors, for the good governance & strategic direction of the association, as well as ensuring our members interests are looked after.

I also chair the committee for the AOI’s prestigious Images, best of British Illustration Awards & exhibition, & only jury selected illustration awards book in the UK.

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.

rodhunt torpedo vol2

10) You illustrated the 35th best selling book of 2009, “Where’s Stig?” How did you get involved in that project and what was it like to be a part of?

I’ve 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!

rodhunt stig track studio

11) 2009 was a massive year for you how do you aim to improve on that for 2010? Have you got anything in the pipelines at the moment?

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.

rodhunt hula goddess

12) Finally, I always like to get a tip from our interviewees so what nugget of wisdom would you like to leave us with?

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.

I’d just like to say a massive thank you to Rod for taking time out of his busy schedule to answers my questions. I really appreciate his time and I think you’ll agree he has provided us with some wonderful insight into his world.

If you like this post you may also want to look at:

Interview with a pro – Whyisbox

Interview with a pro – Philip Beel

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3 Responses to this post

  1. tripwire magazine | tripwire magazine said on January 28, 2010

    [...] Interview With A Pro Rod Hunt [...]

  2. 80+ Fresh Community Articles for Web Designers and Developers | Afif Fattouh - Web Specialist said on January 29, 2010

    [...] Interview With A Pro Rod Hunt [...]

  3. Web Designer Interview - Design Vetica | D-Lists said on March 18, 2010

    [...] Interview with a pro – Rod Hunt [...]