UWE Bristol Alumni designs artwork and animations for Elbow album 'Little Fictions'

Issue date: 17 February 2017

Artwork designed by Rob Hunter

An illustrator who graduated from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) in 2007 has created artwork and animations for the latest Elbow album Little Fictions.

Illustrator Rob Hunter was initially contacted to create the album cover artwork, but as the collaboration with the band developed he ended up making a fully illustrated book of lyrics and collaborated with a team of animators to create videos that were based on his drawings to accompany the album.

Rob said, “The band got in touch with my agency 'Blink Art' after enjoying my books Map of Days and The New Ghost. They wanted the Little Fictions album cover to have a similar dark storybook quality.

“After listening to Guy Garvey from the band read out some lyrics over the phone and explaining their meaning, I decided to focus the imagery on a girl venturing into a new world which he mentioned a few times. After listening to some of the tracks I created a set of filmic and magical images to reflect the musical themes.”

The band was very impressed with the initial drawings so they asked Rob to create an image for each song. The images follow a loose narrative displaying a young girl travelling through a fantastical, dream-like landscape.

In one illustration the girl wanders through an imaginary forest with oversized plants framed by dark shadowy almost teeth like leaves. Another image has the girl reflected jumping through water and making ripples.

Each illustration uses the same palette of colours linking each song with ominously beautiful renditions using luminous orange highlights, purple and blue tones set against dark magenta for tonal contrast.

The album cover shows the girl looking lost and stranded on boulders immersed in a tempestuous torrent under star spangled skies.

Rob collaborated with Blinkink and animators Salla Lemus and Freya Hoston, bringing to life the visual world he created that reflects the music and a book was designed together with Stuart Hardie.

Speaking about his time as an illustration student at UWE he said, “I really enjoyed the UWE illustration course and would rate it very highly. It allowed me to explore and develop different areas of illustration and choose how I wanted to move forward with my work. It was nicely structured in that the course introduces you to different processes through mini projects so you can experience the universities facilities in tandem with idea building with the course tutors.

“The print facilities, course tutors and technicians are incredible, I was originally drawn to the university purely because of the print rooms at the Bower Ashton campus. The illustration course introduces the students to each area of the print room and inductions are given by the experienced printmakers that run the etching, lithography, and screen printing areas.

“I was taught by Chris Hill, Jonathan Ward and Gary Embury, I really valued their advice and opinions throughout the course. They were all very open minded about approaches to work and would always help explore ideas through inspiring discussions. They also had a great sense of humour which made learning fun as well as useful. I think experiencing their idea development in tutorials was probably the most useful thing the course offered me.

“Through projects on the illustration course I was often encouraged to execute an idea from a sketch, to creating the artwork, to thinking about how that artwork is viewed, to producing that final product myself. That pushed me to be curious and learn skills in several other areas outside of illustration. This has continued in my work outside of university, in my own personal projects and my professional work. I test out new ideas and processes in these projects and they have encouraged people to commission me to produce something similar for them.”

Little Fictionsby Elbow is out now on Universal Music.

Details of how to study Illustrations at UWE available here.

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