“Illustrations help to conjure, control, and maintain a certain style and vision,”

says Missy H Dunaway, in conversation with All About Book Publishing.


More recently, Missy H Dunaway was the illustrator for Manjeet Hirani’s book How to be Human: Life Lessons from Buddy Hirani.Here, Missy shares more about her illustrations, in conversation with All About Book Publishing.


“I’m most inspired by light and color. I love using vibrant, saturated colors to convey atmosphere and mood. I prefer painting landscapes to the figure, and times of day with evocative light, like melancholic blue twilight or dramatic sunsets, are my favourite subject matter,” tells Missy.“I paint on paper with acrylic-ink, which is a pigment ink medium with acrylic resin to improve permanence and thicken texture. It’s very similar to watercolour or gouache,” she shares.

Starting a painting…

“I try not to think too much before starting a painting and usually dive in with the paintbrush. I often find my most spontaneous paintings are the most successful because they’re fresh and gestural — qualities that can get lost over several drafts. So, I rarely draw preparatory sketches and try to follow my gut instincts,” tells Missi.

On illustrations…

“Great writing creates vivid images in the reader’s mind, but those images are inevitably influenced by each reader’s personal lens. Illustrations help to conjure, control, and maintain a certain style and vision,” she says. “Illustrations are another way to reach the reader; a different vehicle for communication beyond words. A lot of information can be crammed into a single image. As they say, “a picture paints a thousand words.”“

So, what is the most important thing in an Illustration project?“Listening to what your client wants and being true to their vision. I try to keep my personal desires restricted to my studio, where I can paint whatever I want. When working on an illustration project, I try my hardest to listen to the client and bring to life the vision in their mind,” she adds.

Illustrating How to be Human: Life Lessons from Buddy Hirani

“Illustrating Manjeet Hirani’s “How to be Human: Life Lessons from Buddy Hirani” was a lot of fun. Manjeet’s text offered beautiful imagery and a clear depiction of Buddy, so I found it quite easy to translate her words into art. Buddy experiences a range of emotions in her book, and his anecdotes are related to both historic and contemporary philosophies in a fresh, light writing style. I wanted my illustrations to mirror this aesthetic: to be layered and show a range of moods, but in an accessible package. I used a wide color palette and tried my best to make the illustrations fun and amusing,” she tells.

“While working on Manjeet’s book, I worked with the book’s Creative Director, Gunjan Ahlawat. I was provided with three to four chapters at a time, then I would illustrate them and send images back to Gunjan, who would show them to Manjeet for approval. Manjeet and I had very little contact, although I was given detailed notes of what she was looking for,” adds Missi.

Your passions…

“My greatest passion, beside art, is travel. In 2013 I was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to study Anatolian textiles in Turkey. Since then, I have attended six artist-in-residence programs to travel abroad for months out of the year. My illustrations depicting my travels have been featured by Travel + Leisure, Passion Passport, Airbnb, Huffington Post, and in the book, “A World of Artist Journal Pages,” she concludes.

Missy H. Dunaway, an artist and illustrator,has a Bachelor’s degree in Humanities and Arts from Carnegie Mellon University. Her home studio is based in Portland, Maine.Missy’s paintings exhibit internationally and have been acquired into public collections including Carnegie Mellon University, the Folger Shakespeare Library of Washington DC, and the South Molton Museum in England. Her artwork is also featured by Penguin Random House, Passion Passport, AirBnb, Travel + Leisure, Mashable, The National Audubon Society, Huffington Post Greece, and in Dawn DeVries Sokol’s book, A World of Artist Journal Pages. She is a featured instructor on Creativebug.com and teaches workshops in her home state of Maine.

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