How Rod Hunt's artwork ended up on a bus in Trafalgar Square

Rod Hunt's artwork London Takes The Bus is part of TfL's Year of the Bus Sculpture Trail. Here he tells us about the project.

Up to 60 New Routemaster bus sculptures are being unveiled across London in October as part of celebrations to mark the Year of the Bus.

Transport for London's Year of the Bus Sculpture Trail features 2.5m long, 1m high and 0.5m wide sculptures, which have been painted and adorned by well-known and aspiring artists to showcase the vital role that London’s buses play in the life and economy of the city.

The sculpture trail is part of Transport for London (TfL’s) celebrations to mark the Year of the Bus in partnership with London Transport Museum and the capital’s bus operators, and is being delivered with creative events company Wild in Art. The project is being entirely funded by individuals and organisations sponsoring the bus sculptures, with the Year of the Bus Sculpture Trail running from Monday 20 October for seven weeks. At the end of the event, the bus sculptures will be brought together in a final display before being auctioned, with all proceeds split between three charities: Kids Company, Transaid and London Transport Museum.

After a launch event in Trafalgar Square, Londoners and visitors to the city have the chance to discover the bus sculptures, which will be organised in clusters, on foot by following public art trails in five areas of the capital – three in central London and two in outer London.

Rod Hunt was commissioned to design one such bus sculpture, and his artwork, titled London Takes The Bus, is now on display in Victoria Street, London, SW1.

We caught up with the artist to map out his creative journey.

Digital Arts: What tools did you use to create the artwork?

Rod Hunt: I started doodling concepts in my sketch book and from that I then drew a full pencil rough. The final artwork was created in Adobe Illustrator with an iMac and Wacom Cintiq.

The artwork was then printed as a vinyl wrap by The Graphical Tree, which they then applied to the sculpture.

Digital Arts: How did the final design develop from your first ideas/inspiration?

Rod Hunt: I found inspiration by looking at the Key Bus Routes in central London map and seeing that it almost looks like the map is spelling the word Bus in the route lines.

The original design was created for one of the the official TfL Year of the Bus Oyster Card holders launched at designjunction, which I then adapted and expanded to fit the sculpture flat plan.

The design was submitted to TfL and it was chosen to go forward to production after it was sponsored by Wrightbus, the manufacturer of the new London Routemaster.

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Digital Arts:What was your process/ workflow?

Rod Hunt: For this sculpture I created a flat plan from measurements of the blank sculpture. I then set up the artboard in Adobe Illustrator at the actual size of the bus as if it was flattened out.

I added guides marking all the main features I needed to work around, such as wheel arches and the rounding back of the bus. There was certain amount of guesswork involved working out how the wrap would actually fit in certain places.

It would have been much easier if the bus was sitting in my studio so I could have made exact measurements where I needed clarification.

I printed out the bus flat plan several times on paper, cut it out and stuck it together to create a dimensional mock up to get a feel for how it would fit together.

I then made adjustments to the final artwork and sent it to The Graphical Tree to print the vinyl wrap.

Digital Arts: What aspects of the illustration did you particularly enjoy creating?

Rod Hunt: I wanted to make sure I used the language of the London Bus map, how the route lines flowed, interacted and getting the balance of the route lines right so that the words “London Takes The Bus” were not too overt or too subtle.

I wanted people to hopefully have an “oh yeah i get it!” moment.

Digital Arts: Is this the first time your work has adorned a sculpture?

Rod Hunt:In the late 1990s and early 2000s I used to create sculptural models made from illustrations for commissions, so it’s great to see my work in three dimensions again.

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Digital Arts:What opportunities do you see in designing for a three-dimensional object, and what were the restrictions ?

Rod Hunt: It’s great to see my work in a public space and at a large scale. Seeing people interact with the buses at the launch in Trafalgar Square was very interesting.

TfL supplied a set of guidelines that included what couldn’t be done with the TfL brand and roundel, as well as avoiding offensive and controversial subjects.

Creating art for a public space has been very satisfying and definitely something I’d like to do again.

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