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James Gulliver Hancock talks about his book Park, how commercial art projects come about, and murals...

READERSVOICE.COM: How did you gather material for the book Park, and how long did it take given the amount of detail you put in your pictures?

JAMES GULLIVER HANCOCK: It was really a fanciful exploration of the things in my head. I collaborated a lot with my editor and came up with long lists of things we could include. It was a fun process of back and forth. The drawing part was in three sections…firstly a really rough sketch out of where things might go, just bubbles on the page really, then this translated to a more detailed sketch with body forms and actions, then finally I ink this in filling in all the details for the final illustration. Once the inking is complete I scan it all into the computer and color it using a tablet. this whole process probably took 10 days or so? but it’s spread out over months while we back and forth on corrections and other projects.

RV: Do you find that some people like your black and white drawings, while others go for colour? I love the black and white drawings of buildings and neighbourhoods, but I also like where you colour these drawings, like in your 26 Vandam Street picture on allthebuildingsinnewyork.com.

JGH: I think it’s always good to have a mix. I sometimes just fall in love with the black and white and feel like it doesn’t need color, and sometimes the opposite happens.

RV: Can you talk about how art directors and you work together on various projects, like illustrations for the New York Times, or for packaging or murals?

JGH: It’s usually a case of people coming to me having seen my work. They present a short brief of what they’re after and I do sketches based on those ideas in my style. Every project is different though, with murals they are really just giving me themes for me to play with in my own way, whereas editorial illustrations for newspapers are prescribed by the article which they accompany, so it’s about really engaging with that text. It’s really fun collaborating with people and working in my way with other people.

RV: How did you work on the mural for Willow Road in the Meatpacking District, and the housing project mural? Were you on a ladder or scaffolding, and how long did it take?

JGH: My murals are typically large drawings which are digitized and made into wallpaper. Clients usually like this so they have the opportunity to move it in the future if they desire. I have done a couple of murals by hand and really enjoy that too, but it’s a different process, usually with way less detail and more expressive large marks.

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– copyright Simon Sandall.