I've always been easily inspired, and a bit envious, of the abilities some people are equipped with to create art with their hands. I was recently inspired by James, the blogger of Bleubird, to begin a new series about artists of all sorts and the stories behind their craft. "Unique Being' is the name I pin on artists who create art. "Unique Being" is the name I pin on this series.
Unique Being is a platform of questions I've been itching to ask artists since I first took an interest in art itself. When I discover a new artist I get fixated on them and begin searching for Q&A's, portfolios, and online interviews that can help me get to know the artist's true self better. I like to feel that I actually know the artist and their intent behind making a certain piece. As if I'm sitting in their studio discussing art theory with them over tea (as if I know anything about art theory...) This series, although not always allowing me to sit down with artists over tea, encompasses artists as a whole. This series provides artists with an outlet to discuss the little details of their passion that they think no one cares about but that we all actually do.
This first artist, Hannah Scott, is a Kansas native and real life friend of mine from Wichita. When I think of hand drawn artwork this is the first person to come to mind. Hannah is a student at Wichita State University pursuing a bachelor's degree in studio art. She works primarily with graphite on paper, as well as watercolor and acrylic, depicting human experiences and emotions with a realistic (and sometimes metaphysical) style. Her eclectic take on portraits turns heads. It's been phenomenal to watch this ladies artwork grow along the walls of studios all throughout Wichita. Her work has been shown in numerous galleries around Wichita, including Shiftspace gallery, The Go-Away Garage, Tangent Lab, and City Arts. Hannah currently works as a House Artist at Bluebird Arthouse in the Delano District. Meet Hannah. . .
What inspired you to pursue art?
I grew up as a kid who liked to sketch and color and doodle, like tons of other kids, so I never really thought about pursuing an art degree out of high school. To be honest, I didn't even take an art class in high school, I was just someone who enjoyed drawing in my free time. When I began college I majored in journalism but that path soon ran dry for me and I wasn't feeling fulfilled. I had several people in my life who saw an opportunity for a change and pushed me to take the plunge - that being, to switch my major to studio art. I listened to them, because I knew they were right. I knew that creating things made me feel like I was doing something worthwhile and important. When I made work I was the happiest, most content, and most engaged I felt like I could be. Everything clicked into place, and I knew I had made the right decision.
What is your favorite media?
Pencil on paper. When I first started making work, I only worked with pencil on paper, and I fell in love with that medium. It still makes the most sense to me. I've branched out to work with watercolors and wood, but my heart will always reside in the simplicity of a pencil and paper.
What are your favorite art supplies?
I use Tombow pencils pretty much exclusively, and the best kind of paper that I've found so far is Saunders Waterford hot press paper. I work part-time at a local art supply store in Wichita called Bluebird Arthouse, so needless to say I've done my fair share of playing around with materials, which is super fun and beneficial to my work in the long run.
What music (artists or songs) do you listen to when you draw?
I seem to go through cycles with the music I listen to when I draw. I'll obsess over emotional singer/songwriters like Noah Gundersen or Courtney Marie Andrews for a while, who are both very poetic and moving. Other times I'll crave stuff that's upbeat and energetic, like Alt-J, Youth Lagoon or Minus the Bear. Different genres seem to offer up their own remedies if I'm in a rut. But above all, Fiona Apple cures everything, no matter what mood I'm in.
Who is your biggest influence in the art industry?
Oh, there are so many! Really, anyone who kicks butt and takes names. I have a list of artists who inspire me aesthetically, but when I face the reality that I've gotta be the spearhead of my own art career, anyone who has carved out an honest and genuine path for themselves without succumbing to the pressures of others is the most influential and inspiring thing. There are basically a million ways to doubt yourself as an artist, especially a young one, but looking to experienced artists who are true to themselves and are unwavering in their convictions is the best inspiration I've found so far. Just to name some names, Cecily Brown is a powerhouse of a woman artist, along with Kara Walker and the late Margaret Kilgallen.
What job would you like to have in the next 5 -10 years?
When I think of where I want to be in 5-10 years, I see myself working for… myself. Hopefully. In an ideal situation, I would love to be supporting myself off of my art alone, but I'm still unsure of how realistic that situation would be. I've had hopes of maybe making smaller, more practical things like cards or miscellaneous items that people buy more often to build a foundation of support for myself. If I can create an environment where I'm working for myself, but still have time and freedom to make more thematic work to put into gallery shows, that would be the ideal spot I'd love to find myself in a few years.
What is your favorite piece of artwork you've created?
I did a piece about a year and a half ago that I made during a time of change, and I still feel a strong emotional pull to it now. I used myself as the subject, and I surrounded my face with arms pulling, pushing and prodding at me from all different directions. I had this specific concept in mind before I made it, and because it was a deeply personal piece the execution followed suit and I felt like it accomplished everything I had wanted it to.
What is your favorite piece created by another artist?
I'll have to give two answers. For a contemporary piece, painter Michael Borremans' "Red Hand Green Hand" has stuck with me ever since I first laid eyes on it. Compositionally, it's simple. Two hands, two colors, boom. But clearly, he's stating that someone somewhere - whether it's you or an unseen subject - has a choice to make. The subtle insinuation of a darker decision is really what it's all about here, and man! That's just some good stuff. Another painting I've always loved is Artemesia Gentileschi's "Judith Slaying Holoferenes." This is a very old, classic painting from 1620. Not only is this a visually arresting painting, but Gentileschi was a female painter in a strongly male-dominated world, and she had to struggle through some serious resistance to even be considered as a legitimate artist. Many of her paintings, including this one, depict strong female subjects becoming the antithesis of how women were expected to behave, and I love her for that.
If you could collaborate with one well-known artist who would it be and why?
This is gonna sound crazy and probably a little laughable, but Mark Rothko. Yes, he's a legend, yes, he's the master of color, and yes, adding any representational images to his perfect colorscapes should probably be a crime against humanity BUT(!) he's a genius, and his eye for color is matchless. What I would give to learn about color from him, so that I could use it as an aide in my own work. It would be a dream.
What are your outside interests other than art?
I really love to read, whenever I have time to do that. I also have two amazing and ridiculously adorable dogs that I love so much - I spend enough time with them that they definitely qualify as "interests." I don't bake as often as I should, but when I get a free Sunday afternoon I love baking pies or cookies and am always looking for new recipes to satisfy my intense sweet tooth.
Do you have any collections?
Currently in my house there's a wall in the living room where we've started to hang prints from artists, most who are friends, some who are local artists. Right now there are about 20 prints up there, and we hope to keep that collection growing. Being an artist who puts work up for sale, I understand how awesome it is to have someone purchase your work and hang it in their home, so collecting prints from fellow artists is something I love to do.
What encouragement would you give to a baby artist wanting to get better?
You have to really commit yourself to making work. Make something every day. Make something even if you don't feel like it. It's been said a million times by a million different people, but you can't get better without experimenting and failing every now and then. That's the best way to learn, even if it's crazy frustrating. Eventually something will come out of what you're making that you love. When that happens, the best thing I could say is, frankly, do whatever the hell you want. When you're first starting out as an artist, it's easy to feel like there are rules you need to stick to in order to make work that's acceptable. It took me some time to shake off that belief and really just start making things how I wanted. Asking for permission when it comes to YOUR WORK shows a lack of confidence that YOU can figure it out on your own. Even if you don't feel like you can, you can. So stop asking for permission. You know yourself, you know what you want to say with your art, so just go out there and do it. And have a blast along the way.
This is why I search the web high and low for artists Q&A's. I search to find goods, just like this. So thorough, so interesting and so detailed. Thank you Hannah, it was such a privilege to hear inside your beautiful mind. Your taste in music is incredible. Your passion is unmistakable and your artwork puts that jaw drop/smile on my face every time I see a new piece.
You can find more of Hannah's artwork in her online portfolio as well as see her new greeting card designs and progress photos on her instagram and twitter @hanlees.