Interview with Meg Hunt/Picture Book Report

Jul 20 '10  /  Filed under Illustration Interview  Posted by

Meg is a super talented illustrator from Phoenix, AZ who we’ve been gushing over for quite a while. You may have seen her work in publications like Jamie Magazine, Paste Magazine, Seattle Metropolitan, Las Vegas Weekly, and a whole slew of others. She was kind enough to answer a few questions about a project she started earlier this year called “Picture Book Report.” It’s a monthly showcase of illustrations inspired by the text from its contributors’ favorite books. Fifteen illustrators—fifteen books—three weeks each month for the whole year. Make sure to check out the project and all the talent involved.

Andrea Kalfas – Tarzan of the Apes

How were the “illustrious fifteen” chosen for the project? Are we looking at a list that was originally 30 and has been pruned as the the project evolved—or did you know you needed 15 and sought out to collect them one by one?

It started out just me on my lonesome– then I started talking to friends and we started adding on members. I think originally I was just shooting for ten, but I invited quite a few people and some agreed later than I expected, or they told their friends and they wanted in, so it kept growing, and then I capped it at fifteen to make it easy to update. I knew giving each person their own post day was good to keep the blog active, and there are always three full weeks in every month so fifteen works well. Technically with the roster changes it’s been more like eighteen, I think. It would be amazing to have a ton of people posting every day, but it’s tricky enough trying to ensure just fifteen people can produce work regularly!

PMurphy – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

It seems tremendously difficult—managing artists on a set schedule each week to complete work and post in a timely manner. Can you give us a glimpse of what your process looks like with the artists? Divvying up days of the week, keeping tabs, setting up accounts on the blog… do you run a tight ship or is this thing running on its own at this point?

It was a little tricky at first, but I’ve been doing okay with it. The bigger issue at play is people’s schedules–given how feast or famine this market can be, sometimes there are downtimes for illustrators and sometimes it’s remarkably busy and hard to fit a personal project in. Despite this, the work’s been stellar, even if some people have to delay or post less regularly. I may have bitten off more than I can chew in making this a yearlong project; but so far it’s still holding its own. More or less the project runs on its own, with only occasional nudging from me. I’m lucky to have a team of collaborators who love the blog and want to make their best work for it!

Lucy Knisley – The Giver

How long will this volume of Picture Book Report continue? Till the books are finished or do you have a set amount of months it will continue?

We were talking about doing it all throughout 2010– but we may have to define the confines of the project again. It’d be great to have a finished set of illustrations for everyone, but it’s hard to stick to a project like this for so long and also do any of the hundreds of other things our illustrators are working on! Still, we’re giving it our all until we’re feeling the urge to move onto something else.

Jeremy Sorese – A Wrinkle in Time

And on that note—do you think you’d ever re-collect and commence a second run of the Picture Book Report with new artists/stories?

Perhaps; the dreamer in me would love to take on another story, but there are a thousand other ideas floating in my head– I’d like to start working on a book of my own, for example. It’s definitely a possibility though. We’ll see what the future brings!

Meg Hunt – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is such a great fit for you—whimsical color, curious creatures and wildlife. You’ve done a great job of both capturing it and showing it to us in a new light. Your self-proclaimed “microbiology-meets-Marimekko” style. What will be (or if it already happened.. what was) your favorite and most anticipated excerpt of the story for you to illustrate?

Thanks! Well… I think the scenes with the Cheshire Cat and the Queen will be good. I’m really looking forward to illustrating the Tea Party (which will be more of an environmental scene rather than close up) and the scene with the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon will be great. I doodled a little idea of the scene a few months ago that involved a giant skeletal seashell/coral kind of gazebo, and I think that’ll be really fun.

You live in the “deserts near Phoenix” yet your work is nothing short of lush, vibrant colors and textures. From where, would you say, do you draw most of your inspiration and influence in your work?

Everything and anything. If my eye happens upon it– be it an interesting color combination, a pattern, a motif– it’ll probably get worked in at some point. 

Can you tell us about your background as an illustrator? Were you sketching from conception or did you experience some sort of enlightenment after a bright flash of light?

I drew as a kid, took some drawing classes, colored in library books, that sort of thing. I figured out illustration was for me in high school and then again in my junior year of college; but as my career evolves I’m also seeing a shift from working mostly in editorial work to trying to branch out into producing ideas of my own, falling back on my other love which is printmaking (namely screenprinting). So I’d say that I have little flashes of ‘Aha’ moments figuring out where my career is taking me.

John Martz – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

You mentioned on the Picture Book Report site that this is one of “your further attempts at curation.” Have you gathered the troops for any other projects that you wouldn’t mind giving us a sneak peak on?

Nothing new yet to share, but the other big project I curated was an art show in my hometown called Disconnect the Dots, in which I collaborated with thirty other illustrators and artists from around the country, from folks like GHOSTSHRIMP and Katy Horan. Half of the collaborators started a piece and half of them received a piece I started. It was ridiculously stressful, but a lot of fun to try and play with other creatives’ working styles. 

I hope to get to curate other projects and events down the line– for example, I’d like to produce an event for illustrators that is more in spirit with a comic convention than an expensive conference, I’m trying to put together a community printmaking studio, etc, etc. One of my recent realizations is that I’m actually not bad at getting people to come together and work together, so hopefully in my next phase of life I’ll be doing a lot more proactive work like this.

Sam Bosma – The Hobbit

How has the Picture Book Report adventure been so far? Anything you’d change about the project or process if you could do it all again?

Overall, it’s been great. I’m so proud of my friends and love the work that’s coming out of it. Perhaps I’d be a little more conservative in the timeframe, but we’re all handling it like champs and making some stellar work– I just hope more people will take notice and scoop some of these people up. They make beautiful work, and I can’t wait to see what they produce in the future.

Check out the rest of the work and follow along as the year progresses –

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