Words: Simon Paterson & Hannah Wheeler
Images: Hannah Bluish
Hannah 'bluish', cover artist
Hannah is not only this month’s cover artist, she is part of the S40/S41 team, so what better place to showcase not only her visually inspiring illustrations, but her warm, funny and humble personality than our publication. Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, I give you Hannah Bluish, S41 cover artist April 2019.
Did you always want to be an artist?
Yes... sort of. As a child I didn’t really understand that an artist wasn’t obliged to cut ears off and exclusively make money post death. If I’d have understood that an artist could be a product designer, graphic designer or children’s book illustrator then I know I would have been more onboard.
What has been your favourite project to date?
I am super pumped about the children's book I’m currently working on! I’m not the fastest illustrator in the world, but with this project I have given myself lots of lovely time to complete it and I know it’s the best I’m capable of. That’s always the aim isn’t it? To know you’ve given whatever you are trying to do, your absolute best - everyone wants that ‘Good Effort’ sticker from their imaginary teacher.
How does your creative process start?
If I get a sizeable commission then I allow some time for my brain to have a little party, then I go for a walk to calm down... during this walk I let my imagination run wild with all the possible ways I could approach the project. The creative thinking part of my job is so the reason I love it. Once my brain has gone on a curiosity voyage, I then start sketching. My initial sketches focus on composition and storytelling - they are completely unreadable to anyone but me. I then draft through the ideas until I’m happy to share them with the client.
What or who inspires you?
There are a heap of female artists, Illustrator’s and writers out there who I admire and are just smashing it out the ball park. Katie Abey (@katieabey) is probably number one on that list, she is an awesome business woman and inspirational creative. Not only that, but I love that she’s based in Alfreton! She gives me confidence that you don’t have to be in a creative centre or urban environment to thrive creatively. Kristyna Baczynski (@kbaczynski) is another wonder of geniuses, I envy her productivity levels as she produces such a high volume of work at a significant rate and it’s all just SO good! Finally, my close personal friend and collaborator Michelle Leeder (@chell_toliveandbreathe), this lady continually opens my mind to creativity, hope, activism, human truth and contentment. She writes the most beautifully compassionate blog called 'To Live and Breathe' which I would highly recommend. Also, podcasts, I listen to an unhealthy number of them.
What’s your favourite holiday destination?
Devon and Cornwall. I’d love to say somewhere more exotic, but the heart wants what it wants. We used to go down to the south west coast a lot when I was growing up and after relocating to the north as a kid that area became a reliable constant. Plus, it allows body board riding true self to live her best life!
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
Gosh I do not know... I’m having to fight the urge to say I’d be unemployed. Let me workshop this out... I love being outside, I love the ocean and I also love acting... so maybe I could be one of the humans inside a Moana costume at Disneyland... yes, I’ll say that.
You are hosting a dinner party and can invite four guests. Past, present, dead or alive… who do you invite and what would you serve them?
Firstly, my husband, I am an introvert so the idea of having four people in my house that I admire enough to potentially ‘RAISE THEM FROM THE DEAD’ would for sure cause me to have some panic-induced bodily reactions, without my husband there to extrovert the pants off the situation! Secondly, I would have to say Jesus. I love the guy a lot and would love to hear his take on Brexit etc…thirdly, Andy J Pizza. He is my favourite podcaster. Without his podcast Creative Pep Talk I would legit not be an illustrator, I would love to thank him for that. Fourthly, my brother... he lives in America and as we can’t afford to see him very often then this magical meal would be an opportunity too good to miss. He is truly one of the best humans I know, and I miss him. I would serve burritos as that’s my husband’s favourite.
Where or how did you come up with your unique 'Bluish' style?
Coming up with a ‘style’ has been the single hardest part of becoming an illustrator for me. I have a personality that means I like to merge and change to fit the environment around me, this can mean I have a hard time figuring out what is distinctive about my own approach. I have worked hard and truly it has just been through time and a tonne of practise that I have begun to find my style. I’m learning to honour my need to be more responsive and flexible though and have grown to embrace having a ‘vibe ‘rather than a set of rules to define my style.
You can give one piece of advice to your younger self as you are about to embark on your self-employed, Illustrator journey, what is it?
Believe in yourself and know that you are exactly where you should be.
We are avid followers of Hannah's instagram page and please head over to her ETSY store where you can buy your mother something unique and special this Mother's Day.