Work / Illustration

Sibba Hartunian’s rapidly sketched zines show the importance of hanging loose

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Sibba Hartunian: Snakes

“Making Riso zines started as a fun experiment for myself just to loosen up,” says New York illustrator Sibba Hartunian, whose day job crafting endearing collage-based children’s books is quite at odds with her rough and ready zines. “I didn’t have to worry about the more meticulous planning that is involved with narrative work or trying to appeal to a certain audience.” Not only did working on the zines give New York-based Sibba a space for her brain and hand to play, soon the demand for her zines was outstripping her ability to produce them, selling out in shops in LA, London and Barcelona. “It’s funny how when you stop worrying about what other people think and just enjoy and trust yourself, you tend to draw more people in.”

A former librarian and archivist, Sibba often seeks inspiration from her huge stack of books, magazines and found materials or from historical sources. Her first zine Art of the Americas is a collection of some of the quirkier artefacts from the nearby Brooklyn Museum (think peculiarly shaped ritual bowls and statues with hella side-eye). “Museum collections and found photographs provide a great jumping off point for me as there’s some context. I see a connection between my zines and my interest in historical fiction and magical realism; a basis in fact and history but with a twist.”

Whereas zine series Landforms focused on the natural world using collage, Masks returns to the free and easy drawing style of Art of the Americas, and instead riffs on some of the stern and comic masks in the Brooklyn Museum. “I love drawing faces but sometimes it’s more compelling to draw something a little more anonymous and mysterious like masks,” she says. Her latest zine Snakes is the first of new series of animal-themesd publications. “A big part of making this zine was wanting to play around with the binding – French link stitch – that I was trying for the first time, says Sibba. “Snakes often get a very bad rap but they are beautiful creatures.”

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Sibba Hartunian: Masks

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Sibba Hartunian: Art of the Americas

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Sibba Hartunian: Art of the Americas

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Sibba Hartunian: Art of the Americas