Untold Creators: Meet Rebecca Hendin

Meet the talented people who help us tell UNTOLD stories

Tell us who you are and about the journey that got you where you are today.

I am Rebecca Hendin, a human artist. I work professionally as an illustrator, political cartoonist, and animator. My journey began with birth, after which I was a child. Both of these events happened in America. As a child, I made lots of art. After I finished being a child, I spent some time in California studying art, then some time in the UK studying art. Sometime during the time in the UK studying art, people started paying me to make art. I then continued to make art. Sometimes I made it at home, sometimes I made it in creative studios, sometimes I made it in hostels, sometimes I made it in people’s living rooms, and sometimes I made it in offices. As this making went on, I proceeded to age, finishing both my twenties and half of my thirties, where I currently reside. People continue to pay me to make art, and I continue to make it.

Do you feel like your illustrations tell a story instead of just portraying a scene?

I hope so! Illustration in general is meant to do exactly that, and to communicate something specific – be that a general idea or a whole story. If it just looked nice, that would be absolutely fine as a piece of art, but it wouldn’t really be illustration as such.

What do you love about illustration as a medium for storytelling? As compared to more traditional storytelling mediums like writing, music etc…

I love that I know how to do illustration! I don’t know how to storytell well through, for instance, music. I’m sure if I had that skill, I’d love that, too. Possibly more. I like listening to music more than I like looking at illustration, so who can say. But hey, I know how to work a pen, how to compose a picture, and I’ve got a good grasp on colour theory. So this is what I do. I think all artforms have their own merit for storytelling though, and all can be used to magical effect.

So how do you tell a story in a single frame? What are the limitations and opportunities of such a fixed space?

I suppose by making sure that the main ideas you’re trying to convey are somehow represented. This wouldn’t have to be literally idea by idea; you could suggest multiple ideas through one bit of imagery. There’s also an element of showing connection, to suggest the through-lines of how the ideas interact. But it really depends on the project, and the story being told. I don’t think there’s a formula. I find use of a single frame to be freeing, rather than limiting. It forces you to properly hone your thoughts down to a single gut punch, which suits me.

Illustration always involves some degree of interpretation by the artist. But your work often adds an extra layer of comment. How do you bring that in?

Not sure! Things I think are pretty intrinsically obvious often turn out not to be so. I feel like I’m just adding in things that of course should be there – would be weird if they weren’t, etc – but it turns out they were less obvious than expected. So perhaps that’s commentary!

A lot of your work is political. How does your work fit in with the great tradition of political cartoonists? And why are cartoonists so good at holding power to account anyway?

I don’t know. I’m not sure that it does, but also… it doesn’t not? It’s not something I ever think about it. I’m probably the wrong person to answer this. I’m just the hired hand! Last thing I need is to get (more) existential about my own work and life choices. Cartoonists are perhaps good at holding power to account because we don’t give a shit. And we’re funny. Being funny while not giving a shit is a powerful thing. I recommend everyone try it out for at least a week of their life before they die.

Do you ever get depressed with the neverending sh*tshow that is global politics and vow to never draw any politicians ever again?

Depressed? Yes, all the time. And not just about politics. I like to keep it interesting so I get depressed about all sorts of things. You name it, I’ve been depressed about it! But nah, I’d never swear off of drawing politicians. That wouldn’t help my depression. For that, there’s alcohol.

Creatively, how do you approach a commercial commission compared to an original artwork?

I actually haven’t done any personal work in years, so it’s all commercial. I’m a total sellout, I know.

What recent jobs have stood out for you and why?

Working for you guys at Untold, of course! Best job ever, best clients ever.