Interview: Hannah Owen

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Hannah Owen has her own Etsy shop called Hannah Owen Illustrates. Hannah is an illustrator and designer. I was lucky enough to interview Hannah about her shop and work. 

Hello! Thank you so much for letting me interview you. How are you?

Hey! You are most welcome, thanks for having me. I’m good thanks - the sun is shining!

How did you manage to learn and hone your craft?

I started off at school by obsessively painting photorealistic paintings. After school I went to Anglia Ruskin University to study BA Illustration. It was here I unlearnt everything I thought I knew about what it means to be an artist/illustrator. It was at Uni I learnt how I wanted to illustrate my own work. I’d say I’ve honed my illustration work over the last 4 years since graduating.

Have you always been into illustration?

I started off with a love for fine art, mostly acrylic and watercolour painting. But for the last 8 or 9 years I’ve been into illustration! I can’t imagine life without it!

If there were no resource restraints, what would be your dream project?

I would love to have my own sustainable clothing brand for baby and toddler. The kind of clothes that wear well and get passed on from older to younger siblings and from family to family. 

What equipment do you use for your work?

I use inks, pens, fine liners and most importantly my Wacom tablet and computer.

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What tools or materials could you not live without?

My computer & Wacom. I love them. 

Why has social media been an important platform for you to use?

It’s great for seeing & learning what's going on in the creative industry right now. I’ve learnt loads of little things from watching videos or seeing photos of peoples work in progress. It’s also good for promoting your own work. What did people do before Insta?!

Who inspires your work?

So many people and places! Too many to list in fact. I have some amazing creative friends who are great at what they do!

If I had to choose just one, it would have to be Oliver Jeffers. I came across his work at university and I fell in love. He paints these incredible realistic paintings but also is incredibly talented at illustrating children’s books and so much more. He often blends illustration and fine art painting together so well that it makes me want to take up painting again. 

Do you have any favourite pieces of work that you adore at the moment?

Of mine? Probably my two maps. My husband and I visited Iceland last year and we loved it so much. I wanted to create something personal to remind me of that trip so it felt natural to illustrate a map and include the places we went.

The world map followed soon after as people who hadn’t been to Iceland wanted to buy something similar. 

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What do we hope to see in this up and coming year for your Instagram and your work?

For my instagram I hope to make more insta stories. I’m awful at remembering. I hope to share more of my Etsy items too! And also little snippets of what I’m working on. 

For my work, I would love to create some more maps, cards and more cute baby prints.

What are you currently working on?

I am working on lots of things at once. For my kids wear I am represented by Gathernomoss fashion studio so I will be working on kids wear designs everyday. At the minute we are working on spring summer so lots of cute ice lollies and unicorns!

For my other work I am in the process of making some father’s day cards. One is specifically for ‘my first father’s day’ and customers can personalise it with their child's name.

I always seem to have a wedding invite or two on the go around this time of year - weddings galore! 

What’s your typical working day?

If I’m at Gathernomoss studio I get the train to London and work all day there. When I’m working at home I start about 7am and work on new kids wear designs in the morning. Late afternoon and often evenings & weekends I work on my Etsy store and wedding invites. 

Gathernomoss: www.gathernomoss.com

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What’s been the biggest struggle in getting your business off the ground?

I’m not very business minded so trying to get my head around how a business actually runs (or should run) was a big challenge. Also marketing, I find it hard to promote myself and my work as it takes so much time.

Do you have any exciting plans for this year?

I don’t have too many plans at the moment. We travelled a fair bit last year so have tried to keep this year low key. We have a few weddings and are hoping to go back to Iceland. I would really love to see the Northern Lights and dip in the Blue Lagoon again!

Do you have any advice for anyone doing craft fairs?

I’m afraid not. I only started my Etsy store this January so I haven’t yet been to one! I’d like to know if they are a good thing to do. Maybe I will do one at Christmas?!

What advice would you give to people looking to define their own style?

Try lots of different techniques and materials to see what you like best. Once you’ve found something you like and enjoy, repeat and repeat till your work or collection displays something of you: your likes, interest and experiences. 

Do you have any advice for anyone who would like to do illustration?

Great question. I’m not too sure. I learnt so much at Uni so I think that's a good place to start. If that’s not an option, I think the best place to begin is to start drawing & designing. Keep doing it. Make lots of mistakes and most of all have fun!

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What’s next?

I’m happy where I am at the moment! I would like to see my Etsy store grow and would also LOVE to wholesale my products to some independent stores. 

What's the best piece of creative advice you've ever been given?

My Uni tutors used to say that if you’re feeling uninspired then take a walk, visit a museum or art gallery, go to the movies etc. You never know when your next piece of inspiration is coming from.

Taking a break is the best thing for creativity (unless you’ve got a deadline obvs).

Also, my Granny used to be a potter and artist. She always said that things look best in odd numbers. Is this a thing? I’m sure it works for me when designing. *googles*

You can follow Hannah on Instagram 'www.instagram.com/hannahowen_illustrates' and you can find all of her products on Etsy 'www.etsy.com/shop/hannahillustratesco'.