Hanna Melin / How illustration changed my life

Hanna Melin


I grow up in a family in Sweden who I think would loved to be creative if they had had the choice. My mum use to draw all the time and do crafts with me and my sister.

Then heading out complaining about her office job.

My grandmother taught me how to sew by having sewing meetings with my little friends once a week.

I still love a bit of cross stitching and lots of my projects from university were sawn.

Me and my sister drew all day long ( when we weren’t making clay furniture for Mr Potato Head )

Starting higher education I soon realized you could somehow live off art, but could I be successful?

I promised myself I would never be unhappy like my mum going to a job she hated for 30 years, and I needed to find another way.

Just to learn English a friend and I travelled to Kent, UK to do a one year foundation course.

We were amazed. It was so much fun. Printmaking, painting, illustration…

It became 3 years at University in Brighton and 2 years at the Royal College of Art, London.

So you graduate and then what do you do?


I worked weekends in retail and tried to find Illustration commissions in the week.

Phoning people up and arranging meetings to show my portfolio. Travelling all over London with my A-Z finding the big advertising agencies. Jobs actually started to come in.

I was lucky enough to find an agency based in the North of England. They seemed nice, and gave me some big commissions, like a music video and a tv commercial.

Then a friend from the agency phoned me and said that she had met one of the clients who quoted her another sum then she was given from the agency for the job she just finished.

We weren’t sure if we could trust them any more. We were also not allowed to have the clients direct contact details, so there were no way we could control our commissions.

It all started to feel slightly odd.

I had a sneaky peak at another friends website who’s work I admire and saw that he was signed with Anna Goodson.

Let’s try it I though, thinking this will never work.

After a few weeks I got an email back and she liked my work! I was very happy.

As usual she gave me great advice right from the start, perhaps use more colour?

I have now been with the agency for over 15 years and Anna keeps motivating me and feeling like I belong to a big group and safety net.

It can be quite lonely being an illustrator working from home.

I now have two sons who I hope will pursue something creative. So far only football is interesting, but none of us knew in that age that illustration/creativity can change your life and make it very satisfying.  I never give up and that’s what have kept me going.