Hanna Melin Illustrator Interview

Hanna Melin

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Can you recall the first time you realized you were going to be an illustrator? What were your earliest impressions?

I don’t think I ever thought of becoming an illustrator. Drawing was just something I did all day long. Having two parents in academia, being an illustrator wasn’t something you did for a living. It wasn’t until I finished my studies and went to the UK to study English–while taking a one-year art course– that I realized the world needed illustrators!

Who or what influenced your art when you were young?
Primarily, children’s book illustrators. Sven Nordqvist and Eva Eriksson to mention some Swedish illustrators that I loved and often tried to copy.

Do you remember what your first artwork looked like? Do you still have it?
No!

Why did you choose illustration as your life’s work instead of, for example, filmmaking, law, or even medicine?
To do something that was fun for a living was important to me. It was a choice between art and writing. I think I made the right decision. Art was what I was best at, and therefore, enjoyed the most.

Did you study art in school?
Yes. In Sweden, you can choose a “special” subject that you concentrate on, but you still have to study other subjects as well. You can apply for nearly anything after you complete school if you happen to change your mind.

Where does your inspiration come from; your impulse to make art? Do you have a source for your ideas?
My inspiration comes from life: shopping, Google, comics, patterns, exhibitions.
I see things and I want to try them out.

How would you describe the process of creating art?
Feeling excited, and you think, Hmm…this could work…and then you sit down and try to get the idea down on paper. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. You may have to do it again and again until you are satisfied with the result.

Do you have a favorite illustrator? What is it about that illustrator’s work you like?
Hella Jongerius. She is a Dutch product designer, and she makes beautiful ceramic pieces. Her work makes me smile. I like that in art.

If you could do something else, other than creating art, what would it be?
I’d be a primary school teacher.

Do you remember your first set of paints, pens, or markers?
Not really, just ordinary crayons, and Hello Kitty markers.

Do you have a favorite illustrator supply, a favorite method, or favorite location, where you like to create artwork?
In my studio!

If you could give a viewer clues to understanding your art, what would you say?
I want my art to make them feel something. The feeling could just be happiness or joy.
My art is not very complicated. What you see is what you get.

Do you think illustration has the eye of the public or could public awareness of this field be improved upon?
I think the general public thinks all illustrators are children’s book illustrators, locked away in a cottage in the countryside somewhere, but so much of my work these days includes products: socks, t-shirts, bedding design, etc.

Why does art matter to you? Why should it matter to the world?
Carrie Fisher said, “Take a broken heart, make it into art.” We need art to change the world; to spread messages. It’s so much easier to understand an image than lots of text.

If you could look back or forward 100 years, do you think the life of an illustrator was or will be better than today?
I hope we don’t’ get too much stock photography in the next 100 years, that originality still matters, and that clients will want to spend money on illustration.