Introducing: Hannah Clair
last updated 31 October 2019
Hannah Clair was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, but grew up on the beautiful Isle of Anglesey in North Wales, and elements of her scenic upbringing are often seen in her work. Hannah studied Illustration with Animation at the Manchester School of Art.
Hannah enjoys creating work that appears traditional in medium but is created digitally working with Procreate. Her work is distinctive and colourful, building textures and layering meaning to create dream-like and fantastical artwork. Hannah’s work is inspired by animals, mental health and real locations.
Were you artistic as a child? Where did the creativity all begin?
I’ve always had a very vivid imagination, and I was lucky because my parents would read me wonderful stories every night that would inspire me. Sometimes my dad would make up incredible stories himself, so I suppose a lot of my creativity came from him.
For as long as I can remember, my favourite thing to do was bring my own worlds and stories to life on the page. I would make up characters and places, entire backstories to my drawings as I created them, and I feel very lucky that I’m still able to tap into that magical world I have inside me. I think that’s something that is easily lost when navigating adulthood!
When I was little I always said I wanted to be an artist, but I was discouraged from a young age and as I grew up I stopped seeing it as a real option. However, I went through a tough time in my late teens, and throughout this time the only thing I wanted to do, and the only thing I could do at times, was draw. Eventually, my dad pointed out that this was clearly what I was meant to be doing, and he signed me up for a foundation year in art. That year made it clear to me as well that this was the right path for me after all, and I’m so happy he helped me take that first step.
How do your surroundings impact your creative work?
My experiences have a big impact on my work, so of course my surroundings growing up have influenced me. I believe that growing up on Anglesey, an Island in North Wales, has impacted my creative work a great deal. The beautiful nature all around, the ocean, the mountains, the forests, were all so vibrant and such important parts of my childhood, and I believe the vibrancy in my creative work is a reflection of that. I am especially inspired by the ocean, having spent a lot of my free time exploring coasts.
I can also see how the people I surround myself with at a given time impact my work. At times when I have been close to toxic people, a lot of my work becomes darker, but often I find the art I do at those times extremely interesting and multi-layered. When I’m surrounded by people who bring me up, my work tends to become even more vibrant and exciting. Life is always offering fuel for creativity!
Where do you find inspiration for your illustrations?
It depends on the work I’m doing. When it comes to working on personal projects, my emotions and memories have a huge impact on the work I do. My interactions with people and the world around me really affect me, both in positive and negative ways, and I find that processing life through my art is incredibly cathartic.
However, if I’ve been given a brief I tend to find inspiration by really trying to see the project from the point of view of the person who has set it. I’m trying to bring their idea to life, so inspiration comes from making sure I know exactly what they’re looking for and the feeling they’re trying to evoke with the artwork.
How do you work through a creative block?
Creative block is the worst! I have experienced it only a few times, but it is so distressing when it happens. For me it tends to happen when I get too overwhelmed, so I find it helpful if I’m experiencing art block to make sure I’m taking time away from creative work. I get out for walks, exercise, socialise etc. Maintaining a work life balance is really hard, especially when it feels like if you stop focussing on your work goals for even a minute you’ll be left behind, but I’ve learnt that it is tremendously important for your mind.
In terms of what I do with my work when I’m experiencing a creative block, I make sure I keep pushing myself to create, even if what I’m creating is terrible. Eventually it will flow, or I may have to look at what I’m doing and accept that it just isn’t working. In this situation I will usually start working on something else, something personal, and then that tends to get the creativity flowing once again and I can return to pieces I hadn’t been able to finish.
Why, as an artist, is it important to have a creative community around you?
Now that I’ve finished University, not having much of a creative community around me has been more difficult than I thought it would be. I’m very grateful to have a few creative pals and The Bright Agency to reach out to and get support and feedback.
It’s hard when speaking to people in general to know if they’re being truthful or just being nice. Getting constructive criticism from fellow creatives is invaluable as it helps you to improve and develop, and working with them is an incredibly fun and rewarding experience.
To see more of Hannah’s work, view her portfolio here.