Interview: Hannah Bigley

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Hannah Bigley is a freelance illustrator based in London and East Anglia. I was lucky enough to interview Hannah about her work and shop. 

Hello! Thank you so much for letting me interview you. How are you?

Hi, I’m very well thank you - thanks for having me on the blog!

How did you manage to learn and hone your craft?

Probably through having the time to nurture my work in university. It allowed me to have the freedom to try out lots of different approaches and media, and the room for mistakes to learn from.

Have you always been into illustration?

Yes and no; I have always been into creating but it wasn’t until studying for my foundation in Art & Design that I realised I was more suited to being an illustrator rather than a fine artist. (I didn't even really know what ‘illustration’ was until that point!)

If there were no resource restraints, what would be your dream project?

I would love to do the whole promotion/branding thing for a festival like Glastonbury!

What equipment do you use for your work?

Sketchbooks, colouring pencils and ink for initially starting a project, but my end results tend to be in relief print, sometimes merged with letterpress.

What tools or materials could you not live without?

Definitely the combination of moleskin cahier sketchbooks and my mechanical pencil! A few years ago I invested in some Pfeil Lino cutting tools which cut like a hot knife through butter!

Why has social media been an important platform for you to use?

I’m still working out how to use social media effectively to get my work out there, but it’s definitely nice to hear feedback from people when I dare post on instagram.

Who inspires your work?

It entirely depends on the project I’m working on, but my constants are Alan Kitching, for the way he sets type and his bold, unapologetic use of colour; and Jonny Hannah, ever since he did a talk at university, for his playful merging of type and image - often not leaving any part of the piece untouched! I’m also massively influenced by William Eggleston’s photography - the colour schemes are beautiful.

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Do you have any favourite pieces of work that you adore at the moment?

There are two artists I’ve recently found online that I adore already: Laura Berger and Realfunwow - both fairly different in their approach, but have a gorgeous simplicity about them and (mainly) deal with the natural world. I’d urge anyone to check them out, just looking at their work gives me a sense of peace!

What do we hope to see in this up and coming year for your Instagram and your work?

I’ve just finished my masters degree so I’ve got loads of projects in mind I’ve had to reign in whilst finishing that. I’ve recently turned vegan and it’s given me a renewed love for cooking and veg gardening again, so my plan is to illustrate my own cookbook (even if it is just for myself!) I’ve never really done much in book format before, so I think it’ll be a good way to learn a new format.

What are you currently working on?

Not so much a project but I’ve been getting back into location drawing recently so I don’t have the pressure of creating a ‘finished’ piece at the end.

What’s your typical working day?

I don’t really have a set routine, I normally wake up early but that doesn’t always mean I’ll start work early! If that’s the case I’ll work late into the evening. I always try and make time for some veg gardening at this time of year too and to have lunch outside (weather permitting), as I find it helps ‘open my eyes up’ again after being sat in front of my laptop or sketchbook. Fussing my four cats also takes up a large part of my day!

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What’s been the biggest struggle in getting your business off the ground?

The fine line between time and money! After uni I knew I needed to start collecting my own letterpress to use for my work, and that collection is slowly building, but it’s so expensive and hard to find! Obviously, starting up any business is costly, but it’s hard to balance doing what you want to be doing/creating and what will bring in money to be able to keep doing that.

Do you have any exciting plans for this year?

At the start of this year one of my resolutions was to do a fair. I’ve only ever done a little Christmas one as a group in Cambridge a few years ago, so my plan is to go solo this year! I’m also hoping to get my letterpress proofing press up and running in the next few weeks so I can start printing in my home studio.

Do you have any advice for anyone doing craft fairs?

Seeing as I’ve only done the one, I don’t think I’m the best to offer advice, but I would say, as someone who often buys from them, make your stall stand out from the rest - draw attention to yourself!

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What advice would you give to people looking to define their own style?

Don’t rush it and try everything! I panicked a little during university as I felt I didn’t have a style, but looking back at my work now I think one has naturally developed. You never know when something is just going to ‘click’ everything in to place.

Do you have any advice for anyone who would like to do illustration?

Keep on keepin’ on! It can be hard when you feel you aren’t getting anything back from potential clients, but you just have to dust yourself off and keep trying.

What’s next?

I’m not too sure right now, I’d love to do some more exhibitions though. Sometimes it’s nice to step back from creating and see what you’ve actually managed to achieve, as I think that can get lost when you’re in a constant cycle of creating and moving onto the next thing.

What's the best piece of creative advice you've ever been given?

Thumbnails! I never used to see the point of thumbnailing designs as they'd always be messy and not look like ‘art’, so the sooner I got that idea out of my head the sooner I found it to be a really quick way to get some ideas down and see what works within a composition. 

You can find Hannah on Instagram 'https://www.instagram.com/hannahelisabethbigley/' and her website 'http://www.hannahbigley.com'. 

Rhiannon BrittenComment