Rod Hunt is an award-winning illustrator and artist who is based in London, England. He graduated with a BA in Illustration from the Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University in 1994 and has been working as a full-time illustrator since 1996. Rod is well known for his for retro tinged illustrations and detailed character filled landscapes. He has created illustrations for UK and international clients in advertising, publishing, design and new media such as iPhone Apps. His client list includes The Economist, FHM, Maxim, The Observer, Random House, Barclays, British Airways, the BBC, Royal Mail, Kellogg’s, Vodafone, the Syfy Channel, IKEA, Time, Inc. and many others.
Rod is also the illustrator of the very popular “Where’s Stig?” books for the BBC's hit TV show ‘Top Gear’. The “Where’s Stig?” books are sort of like the “Where’s Waldo” series of books where you have to find hidden people and items in different scenes and locations, but instead of Waldo they feature ‘Top Gear’s’ resident racing driver The Stig. “Where’s Stig?” is not limited to books, there are jigsaw puzzles, a journal, poster, mug and even iPhone and iPad Apps. Rod is the current Chairman of the UK Association of Illustrators, which was established in 1973 to advance and protect illustrator’s rights and encourage professional standards. As Chairman, he regularly lectures in the UK and internationally on subjects including Self Promotion for Illustrators, European Illustration Market, Protecting Your Work Online, and his own career. Visit his website to learn more and see other examples of his work, and follow him here on his blog.
When I’m working on ideas & compositions I use a fine black Bic Biro, doodling in an A5 sketchbook. These are very quick and throwaway so I don’t get stuck into the detail as this stage so as to keep the ideas flowing. After that it would be my Wacom pen. I work in Adobe Illustrator drawing on a Wacom Cintiq screen tablet for all final artwork these days.
Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I always draw a finished pencil drawing before going to the computer, using that as a guide in a background layer in Illustrator. I use a standard 2B pencil which I sharpen with a craft knife as I prefer the irregular drawing tip.
Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
As everything is created in Adobe Illustrator & vector based, all colour is applied on the computer.
What type of paper do you use?
If you hate drawing something, maybe that implies you’re not good or confident at drawing that thing? There’s nothing I hate drawing, & if something is difficult surely it is better to rise to the challenge & improve your skills?
Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Being mostly digital these days I buy considerably less materials than I used to. I usually use a local stationary shop for my pencils & the London Graphics Centre for paper & sketchbooks.
Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
When I’m thinking while working on ideas I need silence, but I do listen to music while producing final artwork. Everything from alternative rock, rock, beats, hip-hop to electronica. These days pretty much everything I listen to at the studio is via Spotify rather that listening to iTunes or CD’s.
Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Comics were a big influence on me, the reason I got into drawing & why I decided a career in the art was for me. Apart from the Beano & The Dandy which are more child orientated, 2000AD was the one which really inspired me. The sci-fi concepts & very British black humour has always had the edge for me over American comics. A lot of the major British comic creators started in 2000AD before moving onto the US - Alan Moore started out doing Future Shocks for the title amongst many others. I’ve been reading 2000AD since I was 5 years old & still get every week.
What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper & Nemesis The Warlock from 2000AD were the classic strips that resonated with me in my youth, Judge Dredd especially. Here’s hoping the new movie isn’t rubbish & truer to the source material. At least there’s no Stallone in it this time.
What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
Richard Scarry’s books have always stayed in my mind from when I was a kid. Unfortunately I’ve no idea where they all went. They probably fell to bits due to over use or passed on to my nephews.
Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
After an Art Foundation at Bournemouth & Poole College of Art & Design, I did my degree at the Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University graduating in 1994.
Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
The Internet is a blessing & has completely changed the way that I work, from researching reference, delivery of artwork to promotion. I now have a worldwide reach for my work in a way I could never had 10 years or so ago. I can be commissioned by a client in LA who found my work via the web, communicate with them from London pretty much for free, then deliver the job instantly when complete. Of course the Internet can be a distraction while working too if you let it. It pays to turn it off while concentrating on a deadline.
Did either of your parents draw?
Neither of my parents drew. My grandmother was an amateur artist though, so creativity is in the genes somewhere in the family.
Do you keep a sketchbook?
I used to keep a sketchbook & draw from life regularly, but not so much these days.
Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I’ve never taught drawing & cartooning, though I have done workshops for a few primary schools (5-11 years), usually setting a book cover project - Harry Potter & The Lord of the Rings seem to get children going, & boy can some of those kids draw!
Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Talent has to be a big part of drawing if you want to make a living as an artist, but that should go hand in hand with passion if you want to be the best you can. I can’t imagine doing this as a job if I wasn’t passionate about it.
Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty, except I hold a knife & fork the wrong way round like a lefty, so I must be a bit confused.
In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
I used to play Saxophone & percussion, but I’ve let it all slip in the last few years as I’m so busy. I don’t like being just “ok” at something, & couldn’t give the hour a days practice I used to do. I also played trumpet as a kid as well.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
It’s vitally important to educate yourself about the business side of things. Understanding pricing, copyright, contracts, etc is just as important as the drawing if you want to be successful & sustain your career for the long term. The Association of Illustrators in the UK is there to help with advice & all aspects of developing your creative career. It pays to get advice from the professionals.
Who is your favorite artist?
Difficult to pin it down to one artist, but Edward Hopper has been a huge influence.
Thanks again for your time Rod!