In the “We Tell Stories” exhibition (at the SVA Chelsea Gallery through December 17), an entire display case is devoted to a freewheeling comic anthology series called Rabid Rabbit. Widely admired in the illustration community, the series was co-founded in 2005 by Paul Hoppe and fellow MFA Illustration as Visual Essay students and alumni. Hoppe, an award-winning creator of comics, illustrations and children’s books, also teaches Visual Storytelling in the SVA Summer Residency Program. For SVA Close Up he looks back at his student days and talks about current work.
What was your favorite project ever?
Probably my very first, self-authored picture book, HAT. It was exhilarating to work on all aspects of the book, as author, illustrator, and even having a big say in the design, using many different parts of my brain. Bloomsbury USA really worked closely with me and listened to all my ideas. We created the kind of book that I would like to see at the store.
Most prominent memory of your SVA days?
There were so many great moments. When Milton Glaser came into our class to speak, that was definitely a highlight. But most prominent are probably the times I spent with my fellow students, working away at the studios, or spending some time together in the common space, chatting about art and life. I learned so much from them and they became my family.
What are you working on now?
This is a busy time of the year and I’m working on a slew of projects: A couple of painted advertising posters for the UK clothing brand Jaeger, a holiday card for the RWTH Aachen University in Germany, book illustrations for Usborne Publishing, some comic zines I am getting ready for Comic Arts Brooklyn, and fiction illustrations for Carrier Pigeon, an art magazine founded by fellow MFA Illustration As Visual Essay alumni: Matt Barteluce, Bruce Waldman, Kristy Caldwell, Chris Darling, Ray Jones, Ben Schaeffer, Justin Sanz, Rie Hasegawa and me. And, I’m about to start to work on the latest book in the chapter book series Last-But-Not-Least Lola from Boyd Mills.
Best advice you got at SVA, and from whom?
From Mirko Ilić : “There must be either one of three things (if not all): 1) Lots of money; 2) Lots of freedom; 3) Lots of time.”
Words of wisdom for current students?
Talent alone is not sufficient—determination, lots of hard work and knowing where to put your work will make all the difference.
Photos by Sara Forrest.