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Anita Kunz's Manifesto for Art: The Art and Science of Illustration

Updated: May 26

Anita Kunz is an artist and illustrator whose work has graced the covers of esteemed publications like the New Yorker, Time Magazine, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times Magazine for over four decades. Her unique approach to the art and science of illustration is encapsulated in a manifesto that defines her creative process and offers valuable insights for aspiring artists navigating the complex landscape of imagination and expression.

Photo credit: Bruce Heavin

1 Everything starts with an idea

In the world of Anita Kunz, creativity is the offspring of an idea—a tiny spark that evolves through an intricate creative process. Ideas, she believes, are the seeds that, when nurtured through creative and critical thinking, blossom into captivating illustrations. Whether interpreting an advertisement, a manuscript, or a personal story, Anita emphasizes the importance of clarity in conveying her interpretation through art.

"There is always a kernel of an idea that is provided to me...It always begins with something that I interpret with an illustration as clearly as I can because I want to make an image that works in conjunction with the text."

2 True artists are outsiders looking in

Anita Kunz champions the notion that true artists are perpetual outsiders—rebels with a cause, and that cause is themselves. Creativity, she believes, requires the courage to take a stand against oppressive forces, articulating opinions without fear. Like outsider art, Anita's instinctive style is a product of her unorthodox journey, devoid of traditional art education, resulting in a unique and authentic identity.

"My style is completely instinctive...I was simply drawing from what was inside my head, then using photographic or any physical references, which developed into a style from years of drawing practice."


3 Know your craft and your audience

Excellence in illustration, according to Anita, demands a deep commitment to honing one's craft continuously. This involves being not just a skilled illustrator but also a worldly and intelligent citizen who is aware, empathetic toward the audience, and committed to creating relevant and innovative artwork.

"It isn't just about being able to draw; you have to be a smart and intelligent citizen of the world by being aware of what's going on and having a point of view about it."

4 Treat failure as a process for learning and growth

Anita Kunz advocates for embracing failure as a stepping stone to success. She sees failure not as a setback but as a valuable learning opportunity, urging artists to be resilient, positive, and open-minded in the face of challenges.

"Don't worry about making mistakes; they are incredible learning opportunities that make you stronger and better."

5 Be purpose-led and values-driven

Anita's creative success rules are rooted in purpose and values. From working hard and embracing self-doubt to removing toxic influences and nurturing uniqueness, her principles guide artists to contribute meaningfully, take care of themselves, remain lifelong students, and embrace imperfection.

"There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind."

In conclusion, Anita Kunz's manifesto serves as a guiding light for artists seeking to navigate the intricate dance between art and science, providing insights that transcend the boundaries of traditional illustration and open up new avenues for creative exploration. Aspiring artists, take heed: the art and science of illustration are not just about drawing; they are about embracing ideas, being true to oneself, and fostering a lifelong love affair with the creative process.

All images are Copyright @ Anita Kunz, all rights reserved. No images may be used in any form without permission of the artist.

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