Where are you from and how long have you been illustrating?
I was born in Toronto and I’ve been illustrating for 30 years.You've taught and given lectures all over the world, what are the most satisfying parts about teaching other creatives?
I love the enthusiasm of the students. And I love travel, so the travelling/teaching thing doesn’t get much better for me! I think travel itself is the best education possible.
You've had such a long and fantastic career - are there any highlights that still totally stand out for you?
Well getting to know my heroes has been amazing. One of my all time favourite artists has always been Ralph Steadman, and we’ve become good friends, so that’s amazing. There are some incredible people in the field...too many to mention really but Seymour Chwast, Marshall Arisman, etc have been such great people for me to look up to! I could go on...To me it’s all good...making money doing what I love...what could be better?I wrote a whole long missive about gender and illustration on my blog at www.anitakunz.com
How has the role of a female illustrator (in a previously largely male dominated industry) changed over time?
Well there are certainly more women in the field now, but I think it still isn’t an entirely level playing field. I think it’s a complicated issue but the situation gets better with each generation.
What excites you about painting and working traditionally?
I’ve always worked traditionally so that’s for me the easiest way to communicate. I do think the new technologies are awe-inspiring, but what interests me the most are ideas, so whether they’re communicated traditionally or not is irrelevant to me.
You were recently recently named one of the fifty most influential women in Canada by the National Post newspaper, whats one bit of advice you would like every young woman to know?Basically I tell young women that their voices are just as valuable as anyone else’s and never to underestimate the power of their work.Well I’m a big nut for the TED conferences...I go every year, and when you’re a TEDizen you automatically belong to the TED book club. They send the most incredible books...books that really chaallenge what I previously thought to be true!
In a recent podcast you explained a desire to branch away from doing editorial work exclusively - why at this point in your career? why was it so important to be an "editorial illustrator" for so long?
Well the field has changed so much. I feel as though I lived through a golden age in the 90’s. I worked with some incredible art directors (the great Fred Woodward among them), and I had so much freedom. I wasn’t art directed very much at all. The part I loved (and still love) about editorial illustration was the freedom to contribute visually to the culture...but earlier I had more autonomy. The amount of creative freedom in magazines has lessened, but I still want to comment on social and political subject matter, so I’m looking for other venues, and the galleries seem to be one way for me to go. I feel as though time is so precious and I want to make meaningful work, and whether it’s for magazines, or just for myself, I just want to make work that’s important to me.
Do you still enjoy magazines?
Yes of course!
What keeps you excited about illustration / creating?
I love ideas, I love conceptual art and I find it very exciting to see what younger illustrators are coming up with now!
You're very open about your feelings on illustrators "borrowing" to heavily from other illustrators, or ripping off for that matter, could you please elaborate on the impact you feel this has on our industry, as well as on the creatives?
Yes, we all have unique viewpoints, and I don’t understand why people borrow so heavily from others. It seems rampant these days. But I suppose when style is more important than concept that’s bound to happen. When people are only looking at the surface value of the image it becomes somehow easier to imitate. It’s a shame....
What is your favorite city in the world, and why?
Paris! It’s the most beautiful city!
What are you reading right now?I just finished The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley, and Being Wrong by Kathryn Schulz. Books like that really give my mind a good work-out!
What are some ways you generate ideas / feel inspired when stuck?
I find that if I just let it go, maybe go for a run, or sleep on it, I can usually come up with something. If I’m really stuck, I’ll try word association...juxtaposing words together randomly to see if something comes out of it.
Any advice for new illustrators, just coming into the industry?
You know, I think it’s really true that the more you work the better you get...Malcolm Gladwell writes in Outliers that most ‘successful’ people put in 10,000 hours before they become successes. That rings true to me! Work hard, get your work out there as best as you can, listen to criticism carefully and don’t give up if it’s what you really want to do!
Any advice for the older / established ones?
Yes. Embrace change! Stay open-minded, and above all remain a lifelong student! It’s all good.
all images copyright Anita Kunz. Please check out Anita's website - im sure you'll recognize nearly every image! http://www.anitakunz.com