The Q&A: Sibba Hartunian

By Peggy Roalf   Monday November 26, 2018

Q: Originally from [where?] what are some of your favorite things about living and working in [your current locale]?

A: I’m originally from Los Angeles but have been living in Brooklyn for the past five years. There are so many wonderful resources in New York but what I love most about it is my neighborhood and its proximity to the Brooklyn Museum and Prospect Park. Although I love New York, I am moving back to LA soon and am looking forward to exploring the city anew, since I haven’t lived there since high school.  

Q: Do you keep a sketchbook? What is the balance between art you create on paper [or other analog medium] versus in the computer?

A: I use a sketchbook mainly for notes and some location drawings but I usually prefer to draw on loose paper.

Q: What is the most important item in your studio?

A: I hate to say it but besides a pencil, probably my computer, which is funny since I don’t use it to actually create work. It’s invaluable though whether I’m using it to look up reference images, listening to music, or have a podcast on in the background.

Q: How do you know when the art is finished—or when to stop working on it?

A: This is a really hard question to answer and it’s something I’m still working on.  I’m learning to be less of a perfectionist and recognize when things seem balanced and complete. And to not overwork it.  

Q: What was your favorite book as a child?

A: Stellaluna by Janell Cannon. I’ve been obsessed with bats ever since.

Q: What is the best book you’ve recently read?

A: I’m currently rereading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. It’s amazing that Carson McCullers was only 23 when the book was published.  Both Stellaluna and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter deal with outcasts/misfits in society – a theme I’m interested in exploring in my work.

Q: If you had to choose one medium to work in for an entire year, eliminating all others, what medium would you choose?

A: I’d probably choose Caran d’Ache’s Neocolor II crayons. They’re so versatile – can look like crayons or paint depending on how you use them.

Q: What elements of daily life exert the most influence on your work practice?

A: I get a lot of inspiration from books and movies or whatever I’m listening to while I’m working, whether it’s conscious or subconscious.

Q: What was the strangest/most interesting assignment you've taken that has an important impact on your practice, and what changed through the process?

A: Earlier this year I was asked by MCDxFSG to create a set of illustrations for a short story by Jac Jemc titled Kudzu. Coming from primarily a children’s book background [which generally moves at a slow pace], this was the fastest turnaround I’d had so far. It was a good exercise in not overthinking and overworking the illustrations, which I believe has led to better work.

Q: What would be your last supper?

A: Sushi with a side of French fries.  

Sibba Hartunian is a Brooklyn based artist and illustrator. Her work has been showcased in exhibitions around New York and her artist’s books are sold throughout the United States and Europe. Her first illustrated book for children, Woven (written by Tom Haviv), was published by Somewhere Press in 2018. She is currently working on a new children's book that she is writing as well as illustrating. Aside from her own work, she has also illustrated for clients including i-D Magazine and Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 


Instagram: @sibbahartunian