Robert Frank Hunter is an illustrator and #Author who presently lives and works in London, England. Rob's works have been well-received in the UK, US, and beyond and he is now working on several projects in film and print. Due to his association with Lighthouse Studios, Rob’s frequently colorful work has appeared in top-rate publications such as the V&A, The Guardian, and the New York Times. Moreover, Rob is a published author via the Nobrow Press who was happy to discuss his creative fiction, especially his latest #Book titled “The New Ghost” via an exclusive #Interview.

Career

BN: How did you become a professional author and illustrator?

Rob Hunter (RH): I studied art at school and was introduced to illustration at college, I then went on to specialize in illustration at university.

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Part of my university course was to showcase every class members' best work in an exhibition in London. It was at this exhibition that I was lucky enough to get my first commission and agent. This was a big surprise to me because up until that point I hadn’t really thought about illustration as a paying job. I had always enjoyed working on my own projects and I had thought that after university I would carry on making my work in my spare time around whatever part time job I got so it was nice to know that there was work out there.

BN: How many books have you published, how did you find out about Nobrow, and what was the process of publishing with them like?

RH: I have five books published at the moment with a sixth in the works. A friend of mine told me about Nobrow and recommended that I send some work to a competition they had for a book they were planning to make.

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I don’t think that book ever got made but they asked me to be in their third magazine “Nobrow Topsy Turvy.” Shortly after the Nobrow magazine came out I was invited to make a seven-page creation story for their anthology “A Graphic Cosmogony” and from seeing the comic I made for that that asked me if I would be interested in writing a book of my own. I pitched them the idea of “The New Ghost” and went about making that as my first book. Since then I have made a second graphic novel called “Map Of Days” and one children's book “The Land Of Nod” for Flying Eye which is Nobrow’s children’s book division.

BN: How did you come up with the idea for stories like “The New Ghost” and “Map of Days” and how long did they take to complete?

RH: When I came up with the ideas for “The New Ghost” and “Map Of Days” I generally went through the same process. I have been noting down little ideas in my sketchbook since I left the university; most of them are nonsense and most of them will just be little fragments of an idea nothing that's fully formed.

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When I was asked to propose a book idea I went through my sketchbooks to see what I had been thinking about and doodling for the past few months. I would notice reoccurring themes and characters, then I would start to join the dots between a few ideas I thought could sit together in the same story. Simultaneously I would notice personal themes from my life start to rise up through the ideas and I would realize that the ideas in my sketch book probably stemmed from these personal experiences in the first place, and that’s what the heart of book should be about. It feels slightly like a loop when I’m doing it and it takes me a long time to sift through everything. Maybe one day I will have a more efficient process.

The idea generation stage is usually the bit I spend the most time on and then I like to plan the book very roughly for a few weeks. But when it comes to actually making the artwork for the book I try and do it as fast as I can and set myself a pretty strict schedule with how many pages I need to be doing a day. This is mostly because I can’t afford for it to take a long time as I need to pay my bills, but the upside is that there is a consistency in the artwork having drawn everything in a short space of time. I think each book took me about two months to produce, “Map Of Days” was a lot longer so I must have sped up my process by the time I made that one.

Future

BN: What has been the most rewarding part of being an author and illustrator and are there any upcoming projects that you would like to mention?

RH: I think one of the most rewarding parts is to physically hold the finished book and put it on a bookshelf, it suddenly becomes real then. But having someone get in touch and tell you that they read the book and it meant something to them is hugely rewarding.

Unfortunately, I can’t really mention any of the commercial projects I am working on. But I am chipping away at a new idea for one of my own books again as it’s been quite a long time since “Map Of Days” and I am itching to create another story.

BN: Where do you hope to be in a decade and what sort of advice would you give aspiring authors and illustrators?

RH: I hope to be a better storyteller and I would love to have a long form narrative project on the go in any format. I think the most useful bit of advice would be to keep creating artwork or writing for yourself.