Illustrator Interview: Ron Monnier

PROFESSIONAL BIO: Ron Monnier
It’s my belief that if you love your work, you’ll love your life. Art, not only is my profession, it flows through my veins.

My name is Ron Monnier and I knew that I wanted to be an illustrator from age 7.

I love to create intrigue. There’s nothing better than mystery in a piece of work to entice the reader further.

After I graduated from art college, my first dip into the art pool was in a typesetting firm. I was the only artist illustrating for press advertisements and packaging assignments. After that I worked in art studios, then progressing to advertising agencies – and finally to my own studio where I could concentrate mainly on illustration.

I have been illustrating for a number of years for magazines like TIME, Rolling Stone, The Bulletin with Newsweek and Reader’s Digest plus various publishers such as Pan Macmillan. And I also illustrated 2 and quarter pages in Lürzer’s Archive 200 Best Illustrators Worldwide – an international publication for art buyers. I also illustrate and produce eBooks for the Government’s Education Department. I have two children’s picture iBooks out, ( The octopus in the tree and Mr Ringdingle’s greatest feet!) and a children’s alphabet app called Bendy Chicken on iTunes.

I love to hoard bits and pieces of ephemera and my technique is to use an unusual mix of textures, collage and hand-painted images and throw them all into the blender. However, the most essential ingredient is a good idea. It’s important to me that my illustrations tell a story.

Work includes: portraits and caricatures (editorial/political), children’s literature, fine art, toys and games. Artistic styles: mixed media (watercolour, acrylic, pencil, collage, ephemera and digital).

My heart opens to picture book assignments whether they be print or digital.

1) How did you become an illustrator of children’s books or similar works? 
I’ve always loved children’s literature and picture books. I do a lot of illustration work for the Education Department and collaborate with writers all the time. Plus, I like to write stories myself. With every illustration I do, I start with a story in my head. Children’s picture books can be so free and also intriguing. I love to make the pages exciting for kids and parents, so that they can discover different things. I add visual metaphors that aren’t necessarily in the story, to enhance the text.

2) Describe your illustration style
My style is an eclectic mix of collage, drawing, painting and digital illustration. I often draw on iconic images in popular culture and juxtapose them into a unique situation. Every illustration has an idea, which intends to create intrigue for the reader. I love ephemera – beautiful pieces of printed flotsam and jetsam that I find and can repurpose into something new.

3) When did you realise you could make a living from your talent?
I had been working in multi-national advertising agencies for years as an art director and creative director, but I always loved the visual component.  So I decided to work for myself doing graphic design and hunting for as much illustration as I could get. My first project was an editorial illustration
for a national magazine called The Bulletin. And from there I got more and more work from national magazines like TIME, Rolling Stone, FHM, Child magazine, Family Circle and more.

4) Who are your biggest influences in your artistic career?
Salvador Dali, Monty Python – Terry Gilliam’s animation, Matisse, Gary Baseman, Clayton Brothers, DADA movement and many more.

5) When collaborating with an author or a client, how do you ensure you are able to translate their words into art and convey the message they are trying to portray?
This is the best and also the hardest part of the process. I read and reread the brief and then think of a visual metaphor that best sums up the message they are trying to convey. Most clients give me a free rein to explore the proposal. I research the subject if I don’t have enough information and I then do a series of pencil sketches to work out the idea. When I start to smile when sketching, I know that I have the answer. I then scan and email to the client with a brief explanation, although the rough sketch usually does that.

6) Tell us about the proudest piece of work you have done.
I will never forget the heart pounding moment when I got the call from TIME magazine saying that they wanted me to do a cover for them. It was a story about parents who harassed teachers on a daily basis about their children’s progress at school. I came up with an idea – “Teachers’ Pests” and illustrated a scene where the parents were literally “pesty” ants trying to white ant their way to the teacher. The art director was very happy with end result and subsequently I received a brief a few months later for another cover!

7) What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators?
Look at as much visual stimulus as you can. Soak it up. Eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Explore the internet and real world and see what people are saying and doing. Don’t copy, but be inspired. Looking at imagery from around the world – it will get you excited. You will start to think of your own ideas and ways to portray them. Stay informed with trends but don’t follow them, start them! Always, always, keep a notebook or sketchbook close by. Write down ideas when they come to you. There’s nothing more jubilant when you go through your notes later and see an idea you had forgotten about. Who knows when you may be able to use it for real!

8) Please provide a short brief of each of the pictures you have submitted

This was an editorial illustration for a national Child magazine to enhance a story about how children these days aren’t going to parks anymore. The brief was to capture the sadness of the empty parks, which were normally places of fun for children.

Park

This brief was to design and illustrate a free app for children to teach them the alphabet in a unique and interactive way. It was asked not to use the clichéd imagery of ‘A’ is for apple, but to use more challenging illustrations that the reader could decipher.
Bendy Chicken alphabet is FREE on the App Sore for iPad.

Bendy Chicken

The brief was written by the author of The Octopus in the tree.
A picture iBook for children 2 to 10. This is published in the iBooks Store for iPad.
This brief was to illustrate a rhyming book about a little girl who discovers an octopus in her tree. The illustrations are drawn in a way to intrigue the young reader. I have included many collage and drawn elements to add diverse layers to the story.

The Octopus in the tree

The brief was written by the author of Mr Ringdingle’s greatest feet!
A picture iBook for children 2 to 10.
This is published in the iBooks Store for iPad.
This brief was to illustrate a rhyming book about a strange little character named Mr Ringdingle. He has one leg and it’s a story about him going shoe shopping and the magical things that occur when he goes to buy shoes.

Mr Ringdingle

Should you wish to know more about Ron Monnier, here are his pertinent details.

Website: Ron Monnier

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