We sat down with our very own Hannah Warren to talk Taste, Google, and all things colourful.
Hannah is both a self-confessed ‘nosy person’ and an avid traveller, and people watching happens to be one of her favourite activities. Her illustrations are so lively they jump off the page, or the screen, and her recent GIFs with Jelly Kitchen perfectly capture the movement she creates with a pencil or a brush pen.
Constantly taking inspiration from everyday life, Hannah is always looking for something that will catch her eye, something that is silly yet striking, light-hearted yet intriguing. Hannah goes everywhere on her bike, with her pencil at the ready, ready to capture the ‘silliness of everyday life’.
So Hannah, what are your favourite things to draw and why?
It’s people! So many different kinds. And animals (mainly dogs and cats) but because of their relationship with humans. I really can’t draw people as they are but more as they move or feel. Their elbows are always in the wrong place and their eyes are sometimes so far apart they are in their ears, but I don’t think that matters. I’m trying to show a character and a feeling about that person, or animal, and their energy.
And how would you describe your style?
Playful, happy, colourful, characterful, wonky, energetic, honest.
Do you start colour or line?
I always start the same way, in pencil or brush pen on layout paper. I used to work on more expensive paper but then there is a pressure to get the line “right”. I like the freedom of using layout paper and scrunching up if the sketch isn’t working. I then scan in the original drawing and use a tablet to rework the original ink line, or redraw over the top, always in Photoshop.
Was there a single moment you decided “I want to be an illustrator” and if so, when was it?
Actually, yes. At the end of my first year at Central St. Martins I had to choose to specialise for the remaining 2 years in either Graphic Design, Illustration or Advertising. I’d chosen Graphic Design as I thought, well, I can hopefully get a job in that when I leave (I was quite terrible at it so probably not!). I changed my mind to illustration on the last day and I’m so glad I did! Drawing was always in my heart and made me happy, I knew if I could do that everyday I’d be content.
How did you approach the Google Doodle brief to illustrate the life of Jackie Foster? Did you have much creative freedom with this?
I found this brief to be deceptively simple when it was in fact, very hard! Mostly because I had to capture two sides of Jackie's life, her career and her activism in one image that could be easily understood and viewed at multiple sizes and screen resolutions. I think I must have drawn 25 different versions of the Doodle before the final. I over complicated things before pulling back to a simple but stronger design. I did have creative freedom but within some strict guidelines. I also took the opportunity to visit the BFI and their film archive to get footage of Jackie at work and during protests, which provided essential reference material to draw from as there was limited images on line. Overall I really enjoyed the project and where it pushed me!
Who are your idols and why?
That’s tough, I don’t really have one, but I have a wall of bits of work from artists that I love, including Kenojuak Ashevak - pioneer of Inuit art including amazing black and white bird illustrations. David Shrigley, for his honest and hilarious drawings and paintings and David Hockney his colourful Californian landscape work - to name a few!
How would you describe your artistic style generally? What type of brief or project do you enjoy working on the most and why?
I think quite free and energetic and playful. Always pretty colourful and most of the time including people. I most like to work on projects that teach me something new, or where I get to work with others especially animators. Animating my work takes it to another level of communicating the idea and the feeling of a character or situation. I have huge respect for animators and would love to collaborate more.
What was your brief like for Taste Festival?
Well, I didn’t really get to draw people which was an interesting departure for me. But I really enjoyed the opportunity to get the inks and paint brushes out again after a long time to draw in quite a loose and free way. The brief was to illustrate different table settings from above and around existing food photography to show the idea of eating together at a “feast”. The art director on the project was keen to create a story for each of the designs, and to imagine that real people have been sat at that table. Their scooter keys are there next to their sunglasses in one and it’s lunch time so there is a jug of water with lemon, but it’s Italy so there is an Aperol Spritz. The most difficult part of the brief was drawing the objects accurately from above whilst maintaining a free inky line. It took several attempts!
And are you a foodie?
I LOVE FOOD. I’d say yes. Really enjoying cooking lots of Anna Jones vegetarian recipes at the moment. London is great for eating out and trying food from around the world. As the colder weather is rolling in I want Ramen and spicy Taiwanese food. And pies. But I think pinching other people’s chips in the pub still tastes the best.
You’ve started working with Jelly Kitchen on a series of GIFs, some of which were for the new Nike x Free Metcon shoe. Is animation something you would like to do more of?
Absolutely. To work on a larger animated project would be a brilliant thing. The GIFs are something that I can experiment with too within my work and I love making them.
What would you say is your proudest professional moment to date?
Getting my work published for the first time and being able to say “I am an illustrator”. I try to remember that feeling so I don’t take any of this job for granted. It’s a crazy thing to draw pictures and pay bills with that money and I’m forever grateful.
And lastly, have you got any exciting projects coming up?
I’m looking forward to sharing some things that aren’t live yet, so watch this space! I have no idea what is around the corner but with my personal work I’m going to attempt the Inktober Drawing challenge, continue to experiment with animated GIFs and character design and generally draw all the time, which is brilliant.