Ever since Shtriga launched late in 2020, we’ve been privileged to collaborate with several pretty talented and even more hardworking artists on our covers. We’re starting the Artist Feature season with Korina Hunjak; illustrator, graphic novel artists, art teacher and cover artist extraordinaire. Korina has done the cover illustrations for both Johnny’s Girls and Girls in Black, and is in the talks to work on A Town Called River!
Who is Korina Hunjak? Tell us something about yourself.
Hello! I’m an artist focused on comics and illustration (and sometimes design). I hail from a small townlet in the hinterlands of Crikvenica but am currently residing in Rijeka, Croatia.
Tell us something about your art. What are some of your relevant works?
I mostly work in digital mediums, sometimes using a combination of traditional media and digital painting. I love experimenting with different approaches to drawing and I love writing my own stories for picture books and comics as well.
The recent work I’m most proud of is a picture book I wrote and illustrated called In the company of Light (U društvu svjetla), published by Sipar in 2020, which tells the story of a small photon of light traveling from its birthing place in the center of the Sun all the way out to the limits of our Solar system and over the edge of the heliosphere. The story is told through dreamy illustrations depicting conversations of the photon with humanlike planets and celestial phenomena. My aim was to create a modern sort of mythology using real facts as the basis for the story, to pique the interest of kids of all ages for astronomy and to get them thinking about the bigger picture of our planet, us, and the vast universe surrounding us.
The other project which I’m really proud of is my first longer comic Animosities (Zvjerinjak), which I managed to draw and self-publish over the course of several months in 2019. It marked the beginning of my more serious involvement with drawing comics and set me on a path I’m really glad to be on today, creating personal comics and being actively involved in the Croatian (and European) comics author community. The story itself deals with the themes of otherness, acceptance and rage, questioning how far we should go seeking justice for the wrongdoings dealt to us by fate and circumstance.
You did covers for Johnny’s Girls and Girls in Black (and sketches for a few more). Can you tell us something about the illustrations and your creative vision for the covers? How did you choose these particular motifs, how did you choose what to portray and what not?
I always prefer to read the material I’m illustrating beforehand so I can get to know the content in depth and previsualize certain images before even starting to sketch. It was possible to read Johnny’s Girls at the time, so while I was reading it, I took notes of interesting visual details peppered throughout the book, such as the changing appearance of the characters, details from their environment, the general atmosphere and so on, and made a list of things that would be interesting to depict in the illustration. Following Vesna’s guidelines for the time period and general historic feel of the picture, I decided to depict the two main characters in clothing from a defining event of the book, and around them stylized buildings which reference various posters from the Art Deco era. I also added a decorative border containing a subtle hint to an important story element. The drawings were rendered in a style reminiscent of lithography to further visually connect them to the era in question.
Does it often happen that you find details in the books which the authors weren’t even aware of themselves? 🙂
It does happen sometimes! I guess I have a knack for noticing certain things, or maybe I’ve just gotten used to looking for the imagery in everything over the years, whether written or otherwise. 🙂
What is important for you when you make illustrations or covers for books?
It’s important to hear from the authors about the intended feel of the content, what kind of emotion it should convey or what kind of visual style is best suited to its needs. I prefer when I can illustrate scenes with emotional impact, but it is equally nice simply to create visually appealing images without worrying too much about the message or emotion of it.
What are some of your future projects?
I would love to dedicate more time to creating longer graphic novels and writing and illustrating more of my own picture book stories. Maybe the biggest project I’ve got waiting on the back burner is a science fiction omnibus comic following the inhabitants of a future colony on Mars and the fate of a hyper-technological Earth. The other project waiting on me to sit down and start sharpening pencils is a fantasypunk graphic novel of the road dealing with the themes of moving on and the meaning of life. I hope I’ll one day have enough willpower and discipline to see them both through. :,)
Where can we find your art or follow your work?
You can find and follow my art on Instagram (@korina.hunjak) and Facebook (@korina.hunjak.art), as well as my own website (korinahunjak.com), where you can read almost all of my comics in full. Thank you!