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Friday, January 25, 2013

The many layers of Meg Hunt

Reblogged from WeMake

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Our next sketchXchange guest illustrator is the very talented Meg Hunt. She is a fascinating woman, a full-time illustrator, teacher, and explorer. Meg lives in Portland and has a very impressive client list including: Disneyland, Cartoon Network, Junior Scholastics, Vegetarian Times, Image Comics, Brand New School, Seattle Metropolitan, and the Washington Post to name a few.

I recently met with Meg to learn a little more about her her style–check it out.

YPE
You've done quite a few self initiative pieces, I really like The Picture Book Report, how did that come about?

MH
I try to do projects that can fill a gap a client might not see, and eventually maybe hire me for. With this particular project I wanted to do a lot more narrative work. I decided to illustrate Alice in Wonderland and thought it would be a fun to invite other people to work narratively, so I began Picture Book Report.  At that time I didn't see a lot of narrative book artwork beyond what was in picture books for kids. I invited 15 illustrators to create pieces of art (geared towards all ages) in response to text that moved, shaped, or excited them. There was a dozen or so guest artists that contributed as well. Three weeks out of every month we posted a new illustration every day along with our thoughts and process. The project went on for a year, but eventually had to be put on hold due to contributors' busy schedules.

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YPE
Did you get the Alison in Wonderland job for RadioLab from that?

MH
Yes.  I also got invited to create a piece for Disneyland's Wonderground Gallery show that they curated for Pixar.

YPE
When I look at your style it makes me feel happy. I love the colors, layers and details, and I get a sense of going into the woods with some of your characters. I also see a lot of your characters with the little pointy shapes is that a signature style? 

MH
No, not necessarily— there are certain shapes I go to, much like my color palette, but I don't stick to one signature thing. Some things do crop up, patterns resurface, and little elements become surprises.  If you look a little closer you might find hidden secrets along the way.

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YPE
I've heard you do a lot of Rubylith work to create your designs, that's pretty old school. The nice thing about it is that it gives you imperfect lines. Do you use that process for everything or just in your silkscreen work? 

MH
I've been trying to work with it both in my digital as well as my silkscreen process. When I silkscreen I like to make my layers by hand. Although I have created some layers digitally, I prefer the imperfections of cutting the rubylith or inking by hand. The technique is like working with relief printing in a way—working backwards from a sheet and carving details away. There are certain things I could certainly do digitally, but I probably wouldn't. I have one technique where I carve lines at different angles then scratch off all the little cuts, this is a texture that I wouldn't easily be able to replicate digitally.

The process of using rubylith is unique. I try as much as I can to do things out of the computer before bringing them in so I can cobble together what I want and not feel like I have to be beholden to digital processes.

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YPE
Have you always been an illustrator? Did you start out as a designer. 

MH
No, I feel like the most non-designer person out there! When I was in high school someone from the School of Visual Arts came in to speak about illustration. That's when it clicked for me. I went to college for illustration, then switched over to a combination of illustration and printmaking. At one point, I thought illustration wasn't for me and that I would just work as a screenprinter- then realized the prints I made were illustrative, and I could make illustration work to suit my needs.

YPE
What school did you go to? 

MH
I went to a small art program at the University of Connecticut. It was a good inter-disciplinary program, I got to use many techniques and explore a lot. It was a scrappy and small department but I was lucky enough to find three mentors working in entirely different ways. If I had gone to an art school I would have probably just stuck to one focus.
After graduating I hit the ground running. At first it was a lot of hard work, and it took a few years before people would actually seek me out. I have a very go-getter attitude and always try to self-initiate things to get the work I want. So I worked on personal projects, sent out postcards and self-promotions to potential clients, and researched new avenues for clients to find me. It was slow the first year, but ultimately worth the hard effort.

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YPE
So what's the tool of choice?

MH
That's a hard question— I don't think I can narrow it down to one. Lately for my sketchbook I've been using water-soluble carbon and a waterbrush which is fantastic. I'm getting into using acrylic inks, and I work with pencil, brush, ink and in the computer. I have a hard time condensing it down to one art supply though!

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YPE
If you can do anything what would you want to be doing? Or do you have a dream client?

MH
I want to do everything! More book covers, package design, animation, and 3D tangible objects/products. I like building things with wood and laser cutting, as well as exploring working with different 2D and 3D materials. 

As for dream clients, there's not really one specifically— there are just so many amazing projects out there I'd love to be a part of. It would be great to work with more motion and narrative projects, textile work too. I can't narrow it down to one focus.

It's so important to continue evolving my practice so that I can can do the kind of work I want to and feel satisfied with in the long run. I love freelancing and can't picture not doing it— it gives me the opportunity to work both large and smaller clients, so it's a nice variety. I'm fortunate that I can pick and choose what projects I can take on. When you first start out you feel like you should take everything on... Learning to say no has been tricky, but I'm slowly realizing what's important to me and what I want to focus my time on.

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YPE
Anything you can say to an inspiring illustrator.

MH
Attack things with strength and dive in— you can't go into anything halfheartedly (it'll show). Self-generated personal projects are good. Don't put work you don't want to be hired for out into the world. Be prepared for it to be hard and difficult at first, but also be excited about it too. 

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If your in Portland, please join us as we get the opportunity to explore and be inspired by the wonderful world of Meg Hunt

DATE OF THE EVENT: Friday Night,  February 1st
TIME: 6:00-9:00 PM
PLACE: The Left Bank Project - 240 N Broadway
Check-in begins at 6:00pm in The Sting Ray Cafe. Doors close at 6:45
COST: FREE, however a donation is always welcomed!
REGISTRATION BEGINS: Monday morning at 9am, January 28th

As always space is limited, so be sure to register early!

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