Illustrated by Angie Hoffmeister
Introduced by Joyce Carol Oates
Product Details: Bound in printed and blocked textured paper • Set in Arno with Zachar as display • 232 pages • Frontispiece and 6 colour illustrations, including 4 double-page spreads • 9 integrated illustrated tailpieces • Printed slipcase • 8 ¾˝ x 5 ½˝
During the whole underside of her life, ever since her first memory, Eleanor had been waiting for something like Hill House.
Widely considered to be the finest of all haunted house tales, an unnerving, psychological exploration of grief, fear and mental disintegration, Shirley Jackson’s hugely influential novel is the definitive work of twentieth century American gothic horror and is presented here in a lavish and beautifully illustrated new collector’s edition from The Folio Society.
To celebrate the release, we caught up with illustrator and printmaker Angie Hoffmeister to discuss her background, the illustration process, and her amazing work on this new edition.
Can you tell us a little about your background and how you got started in illustration?
I am from north Germany and moved to Duesseldorf in 2009 to study fine arts at the local art academy. During my seven years there I took a great interest in printmaking, especially etching, and drypoint. I really struggled to find my place in the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, because illustration is not well received there, but I did not want to commit myself to either fine art or illustration. I also got my teaching degree in 2016.
When did you first discover you had a talent for art & illustration and that that was the career you wanted to pursue?
Drawing was something that always fascinated me. I remember really well that at the age of nine I was drawing a horse under a tree and found out that pencil could be smudged, which at that time was a revelation to me. Drawing and reading were always the thing I loved doing most, and so the wish to illustrate was just a logical conclusion. I did not believe I could actually make it as an illustrator, though.
How would you describe your style?
That is hard to say… I draw in quite a naturalistic style and then try to add some strangeness with colour. I think my style is kind of dark and perhaps a little nostalgic.
How did your collaboration with The Folio Society come about?
One day I received an email from Raquel Leis Allion, Art Director at The Folio Society asking me if I would be willing to be considered for a different book. I agreed, but I was not the right person for that project. A few months after that, I got an offer to illustrate The Haunting of Hill House, and I jumped on it. I do not know how they came across my work on the internet, I guess that was a lucky coincidence.
Had you read much of Shirley Jackson’s work before you started working on this project?
I must admit I had not read anything by Shirley Jackson before, but I loved Hill House so much that I have now read three more books by Jackson. It seems she’s not that well known here in Germany.
Many people will have seen the Netflix adaptation and be very familiar with that. How much inspiration did you take from the design work seen in that and other screen adaptations?
I had not watched the Netflix show until after the project was done. Also I was told right from the start that the book and the show did not have a lot in common. I had seen the movie adaptation with Catherine Zeta Jones three or four times about twenty years ago and I remember I liked it very much back then, but it’s very different from the book, too. The 1963 movie I have yet to watch. I didn’t want to get influenced by any adaptations to be able to really bring my own images down on paper and not the way somebody else has envisioned characters and settings.
How did you decide which parts of the novel to illustrate?
When I read the book, I put little notes in whenever I had a very clear image in my head. There were a lot of them, but we also needed to have enough space between each of the illustrated scenes and the illustrations should not be repetitive. The scene where Eleanor dances through the halls was something I really wanted to illustrate, but it took a lot of attempts to get it right.
Is the gothic horror genre an area that you particularly enjoy working in?
I don’t really have a preference – not as a reader and not as an illustrator. There are so many fantastic books from different genres out there!
Can you talk us through your illustration process? How do you prepare and what materials do you work with?
I have always loved to draw into sketchbooks and have filled a lot of them over the years. When I started working on The Haunting of Hill House I began collecting information from the book about the looks of characters, the house and rooms, searched for photographs that would be a visual guideline, and made a ton of sketches in a new large sketchbook. Once we had decided on the scenes to be illustrated, I began drawing on Arches watercolour paper with my mechanical pencils. I coloured the sketches digitally to see where the light and shadow would need to be placed, and then used Rohrer & Klingner ink and small brushes for the lines. Afterwards I added a layer of watercolour, mostly yellow.
The Haunting of Hill House is one of the all-time great literary ghost stories. What do you think makes this novel so special and what do you hope readers will get from your accompanying illustrations?
I can only say that reading the book for the first time I found it to be gut-wrenching and I loved how nothing seemed to be definite, the reader doesn’t really know what is really going on at any point. Everything that seems certain gets put into question a few moments later. Eleanor’s thoughts and struggles and how she starts to find a home in this very hostile house is heart-breaking to me. I really hope that the design of the whole book with its slipcase, cover and the illustrations make the reading experience even a little richer than it already is.
Who would you say have been your biggest inspirations and influences?
That is very hard to tell, I feel like inspiration can come from anywhere, like a song or a quote, a movie, a book, art and of course other illustrators. I have always loved Heinrich Vogeler (especially his printmaking) and Ivan Bilibin, I think they both had a big influence on me.
What have been your favourite projects to date?
The Haunting of Hill House has been my favourite project so far. It was the first time working with The Folio Society and it was great to not only do illustrations, but to be able to make the visuals for the slipcase, box, cover, endpapers as well. Anything I wanted to do was made possible, like the clamshell box of the Limited Edition that lets the reader enter the story through opening the front gate of the house itself. I felt very valued during the whole process and everyone I worked with was as passionate about books as can be.
What advice would you give for anyone hoping to pursue a career in illustration?
I would say being true to oneself is important. Draw and paint the way you really want to, don’t try to change your style to what seems to be in demand. Also go into museums and look at art whenever you can, practice and be patient.
Where can people learn more about your work?
The Folio Society’s edition of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, illustrated by Angie Hoffmeister and introduced by Joyce Carol Oates, is available exclusively from https://www.foliosociety.com/uk/the-haunting-of-hill-house.html