My latest #inspirations4aspirations interview is with illustrator and designer, @hantastic.creations
Hannah’s understanding of color theory, composition and negative space is admirable. Her creations are their own self-contained world where each line or dash of color tell a story. Each element’s angle leads the viewer through the design. Even pieces with textures or many elements have a sense of serenity.
Hannah claims her work isn’t fantastic, or what she thinks of as fantastic: “it is imperfect. It isn’t neat or orderly…” That’s where her username comes in. It’s a way of seeing her work “as its own kind of fantastic.” Hantastic.
She often depicts everyday life like people, plants, and animals. She covers social and feminist heroes with less recognition or abstract topics like anxiety and depression. Her anthropology degree and studio art minor mix her @ancient_antics series which spotlights unique historical facts. No matter the subject, Hannah infuses each visual with her quirky personality.
It felt weird to create a smiling portrait of the person who lettered “I need you to stop telling me to smile”. So my muse was a somber yet quirky artist named Edward Penfield. Specifically, I pay homage to his February 1897 Harper’s magrazine cover of streetcar passengers all reading Harper’s. My version trades the passengers for Hannah’s dogs, Gambit and Indiana Jones.
Hantastic Creations: in her own words
Where are you from and/or where did you grow up? And where do you live now?
I am from North Carolina and currently live in North Carolina
You have really cute dogs. What are their names and breeds?
Indiana Jones (Boxer and Boston Terrier) and Gambit (Pitbull and Bassett Hound…I think…those doggie DNA tests are expensive but tempting).
Were you always artistic?
I have always been into art, studio art mainly. My mom really encouraged my sister and I to be creative. I am lucky in that respect. I minored in studio art in college and took some continuing ed. courses for graphic design.
What mediums did you like working with when you were minoring in studio art?
I mostly used acrylic paints and pastels. I have always wanted to try oil paints, but I don’t know if I really have the patience for it.
Your sister is a painter and, despite the shared creative background, you both have distinctly different styles. How do you think you approach art differently?
We are almost the exact opposite in that respect. She likes to really take her time and get tiny details whereas I like slightly messier and less detail. She is more patient with her art, I think. Even if I try to make things look very realistic, it comes out looking like a cartoon and, she has a hard time doing work like mine.
In the spirit of your Ancient antics series, what are some “Quirky historical facts” about you?
Hmm…I was a personal trainer for about two months and found out graphic design was better for my extreme introvert-ness. I have had about 10 career changes because I find everything really interesting and can’t pick one. Going even further back, I used to be obsessed with Indiana Jones (hence the dog name) and buried toy dinosaurs in my backyard so I could dig them back up.
What got you interested in digital illustration?
A couple of years ago I started following a bunch of artists on Instagram and was inspired by all the cool textures and vibrance in the digital work. I also love not making a mess. If I start on an analog piece, the paint, pens, ink, etc. are out for weeks.
In college, I majored in Anthropology. I am so fascinated by other cultures, especially ancient ones. I took a couple of classes on ancient Mayan culture and was hooked. A little under 2 years ago, I took Lauren Hom’s Passion to Paid course, and it inspired me to mix my love of art, anthropology, and humor.
Where do you find some of your quirky historical facts?
Lots of google searches! I have found a decent amount of archeology articles. Recently I found a few good things on Ranker. I always find a few different sources just to make sure it is legit though.
Can you talk a little bit about what you do in your job as a graphic designer?
Right now I am unemployed, sadly. My company went under because of this covid-19 mess. I was just doing mainly layout for ads in a newspaper. I am actually looking forward to getting another more challenging job.
You mentioned you were still looking forward to future endeavors (future jobs). What keeps you focused on your goals? What stops you from giving up hope?
I wouldn’t really say I’m hopeful. I think it’s more knowing that whatever job I get I grow from it. I try put a positive spin on things just to take care of myself. Negative think has greatly affected me in the past. I try and just kind of go with the flow.
Let’s talk about your user name. How do you define “Hantastic”? And what makes a creation Hantastic?
I’ve never really thought about this before. I think it’s a spin on fantastic…my work isn’t your typical “fantastic” work, or what I think of as fantastic. It is imperfect. It isn’t neat or orderly. I am the same way, so I guess it makes sense that my work would be. It is a way to see my work as its own kind of fantastic.
I aspire to create work that makes people laugh while also destigmatizing mental health issues.
1 Why do you create?
That’s a good question. I’m not even sure I know the answer. I think it maybe helps release emotions/feelings. For the most part, I feel better after I create something.
Sometimes I hate what I created, but the positive must be better than the negative because I keep doing it. It helps when other people see some of themselves in my work – when they relate to it.
2 When life gets you down what inspires you to get back up?
I think the most effective thing for me is getting outside. Nothing makes me feel better than a walk in nature.
I also think it’s important to just be down for a while. Let yourself work through it, and don’t be hard on yourself. If you’re mad at yourself for your inability to get back up, it kind of makes you want to sink in more.
3 As a graphic designer and an illustrator, how do you balance making visuals for work vs. for fun?
It is hard for sure. I struggle to be creative on demand. If I put too much pressure on myself to put work up on social media, the work generally isn’t my best. I have started to just make work if an idea comes to me, and I find that works better. There is already enough pressure in the workplace.
3.2) Speaking of pressure, how and why do you incorporate mental health issues into your work?
I usually talk about my struggles with social and general anxiety and depression, or things that I have discussed with other folks. I also add some tips/tricks that have helped me in the past.
I think that the more we talk about how we’re feeling, the better the world will be. That sounds a bit grandiose, but the more people hold emotions/stress/anxiety in, the more alone they feel. Those emotions and worries can eat away at you.
4 In your opinion as an anthropology major, how can creatives learn from the past to make the art of the future?
Oohh good one. This is hard. They can see what people made that was ahead of their time. All of the different techniques and materials. There is so much to learn even from the amazing cave art in modern-day France. Experimenting with different techniques that perhaps haven’t been used in centuries could lead to some cool discoveries.
4.2) You incorporate a lot of humor into your work. What is the importance of humor in art?
Making people laugh is one of the best things. It is an art in and of itself. Visual art is really important in society and has been for centuries. When you combine the two it’s like double the pleasure, double the fun… (now I have the Doublemint song in my head)
Many thanks to my inspiration and aspiration, @hantastic.creations
I’m John Lhotka, wishing you a nice day, and all that jazz.