Gus Hunter

Gus Hunter

Gus Hunter, artist, illustrator and concept designer

From an early age Gus Hunter was interested in art. A keen drawer, he was enthralled by the drawings in Marvel, DC and Creepy comic books; films such as Animal Farm; and old master painters such as Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci.

After leaving school Gus worked in the public service before deciding to become an artist. He quit his job and worked as a painter with a Wellington-based Māori carving group who were building Victoria University of Wellington’s first fully carved marae (Te Herenga Waka Marae) under the guidance of Dr Takirirangi Smith.

After the Marae was completed, Gus worked as a painter and bone carver for a local Porirua co-op group. These jobs were baby steps in a creative direction, but Gus knew he needed to learn more about art, illustration, and all the technical aspects of painting. This meant going back to study and completing a three-year diploma in visual communications and design at Wellington Polytechnic.

After graduating he worked as a freelance illustrator throughout the early 90s. To be as versatile an illustrator as possible he started broadening his illustration style to suit cartoon, caricature, storyboarding, and working on semi-realistic to realistic art styles.

His Pacific Island heritage also fuelled a desire to give something back to the Pacific community and he became involved in teaching local budding artists to illustrate local stories for children’s books that would be produced and printed for their own schools.

In the Year 2000 came a dramatic shift to Gus’s artistic career: an old friend, Jeremy Bennett, who had just started working on the Lord of the Rings as a traditional artist, contacted Gus to say that the 3 foot 6 company were starting up a visual effects art department for the trilogy under the American art director Paul Lasaine.

Gus by then had re-learnt how to use the computer as a tool and create art as digital paintings—a craft that was not common back then, but one that had him working on Lord of the Rings trilogy by April 2000.

Since then Gus has worked on: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring; The Two Towers; and The Return of the King, King Kong, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe; Prince Caspian, as well as working on Tintin, Avatar, The Lovely Bones, Hercules and the Hobbit.

Gus has also worked on other movies with Weta Digital including X-Men, Fantastic 4: The Rise of the Silver Surfer and The Bridge to Terabithia.

Gus has been enormously successful in carving out a career for himself in the film industry driven by his talent and passion. His work has gained international recognition, helped the New Zealand economy, and he has been a great role model for those inspired by his work.

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Toi Rauwhārangi
College of Creative Arts
Wellington, Aotearoa