Top Gear book triumph for Cambridge School of Art graduate

Published: 18 December 2009 at 13:18

The Christmas book hit for this year looks like it’s Top Gear’s Where’s Stig?

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A London based Illustrator and graduate of the Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University is featuring prominently in the book charts with the hugely popular Where’s Stig? book in the run up to Christmas.

Rod Hunt is enjoying chart-topping success – including a listing as Book of the Week in Bookseller magazine and a No 1 slot in the Sunday Times Bestsellers list and No 6 in the overall UK chart - for the book he illustrated for the BBC Top Gear production team.

Presenters of the programme, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, have been worth £44m to UK book retailers over the past five years.  But this year it is their mystery resident racing driver that’s taking centre stage. Where’s Stig? (BBC), a Where’s Wally?-style book which sets out a hunt for the white overall-wearing driver has been one of the best-selling hardbacks of recent weeks.  Total sales are currently standing in excess of 175 000 which is over double the sales of Jeremy Clarkson’s recent release Driven to Distraction.

As Stig merchandise is everywhere in the supermarkets and a new series of Top Gear has just hit BBC2, it is hardly a surprise that Where’s Stig? is featuring so prominently.

Rod Hunt has built a reputation for retro tinged illustrations and detailed character filled landscapes with UK and international clients in publishing, design, advertising and new media, for everything from book covers to advertising campaigns, and some large scale installation too.

Most notably Rod illustrated the cover of Change The World 9 To 5, the best selling environmental book by We Are What We Do, and various theme park maps including one for Chessington World of Adventure.

Now a freelance illustrator, Rod graduated with a BA (Hons) in Illustration from the Cambridge School of. It took him two years to build up enough work to work as an artist full time and in 1996 he moved to London to set up his own business with support from the Princes Trust, his local Training and Enterprise Board and the Association of Illustrators. He has been working as a full time illustrator ever since.

Talking about Cambridge School of Art, Rod says:

"Back in my university days I painted all my work in acrylic paint using hog’s hair brushes. It was at the Cambridge School of Art that I had the time to develop my skills, thought processes and had the space to experiment."

"In 2001 I reinvented my work & moved to working digitally. I decided to change purely because my work had not developed the way I had wanted it to and so I decided to completely re-invent myself and it is probably the best thing I ever did. I went to my clients and told them I had gone digital, so they asked me to send them a couple of samples which they all liked it. There was no resistance really and it has opened many new doors in my career."

"Unless you keep progressing your work, things can get a bit stale. And I think it’s very important to indulge your personal interests in your work & create your own unique voice, as that is what will set you apart from everyone else."

Rod had worked on and off for years on Top Gear Magazine. In 2008 the Top Gear team asked him to create ‘an unrealistic cartoon simulation’ of the Top Gear studio for the Big Book of Top Gear 2009. When he completed the work, it got the team thinking about how they could expand the style into a whole book, which is how the idea of Where’s Stig? was born.

He was immediately interested in the concept and the challenge of creating such a book because of the wealth of visual material from the show. Rod concludes,

"It’s been a challenging and creatively rewarding project. Where’s Stig? has done phenomenally well since its launch. It’s pretty crazy to think that I have a book in the UK Top 10 best sellers list!"

For more info on Rod Hunt visit www.rodhunt.com