Our second Illustration West 61 interview is with Anita Kunz, twice Illustration West Bronze Award winner (Editorial, ILW 45 and Institutional, ILW43) as well as having been a judge for our ILW 42. Board member Jon Messer, Secretary and Program Chair, conducted the interview with Anita.
What inspired you to become an illustrator?
My uncle was an illustrator whose motto was “Art for Education”. He illustrated textbooks and made a lot of educational materials such as filmstrips for schools. He inspired in me the idea that art could contribute to a cultural dialogue and inspire and inform rather than just act as decoration.
Where did you grow up and did that have an influence on your artwork?
A small town in Canada. It influenced me to get the hell out of there and pursue my art.
What genre of illustration holds your imagination and can you say why?
Social and political commentary. The world needs more committed citizens and I think art can impact and encourage positive change.
Is there a cultural component to your love of illustration?
Yes very much. I’m interested in what’s going on around me. I’m interested in human nature and how we behave. I’m interested in stories we tell ourselves. I’m interested in science and anthropology.
Where did you get your training?
I went to the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto Canada
Do you feel the fundamental skills are still important in professional illustration?
YES!! It’s like asking does a writer need to know about sentence structure and grammar. It’s critically important.
When did you get your first paying commission?
At the beginning I did a lot of package design and advertising. Dog food and cat food ads for example.
Was there a particular assignment that changed your trajectory? If so how?
There have been a lot through the years. I’ve changed direction often.
Can you share some highlights from your career?
I love the travel. I’ve been able to lecture in such far-away places such as Istanbul and India. It’s been tough staying home the past couple of years.
What forms of media do you use and enjoy? Are there any that you avoid?
I’m curious about everything.
Do you have career or training advice for artists?
Follow your own voice and try and be a conscientious person. Try and make the world a better place with your art. And stay curious.
Do you create in other forms of art?
Yes, I write art books and create fine art.
All artwork ©2022 Anita Kunz, not for re-use without permission of the artist.