Thursday, June 21, 2012

Artist of the Month: Hannah Lynn, June 2012

I am very excited to introduce Hannah Lynn, our very first Artist of the Month! I plan to feature one carefully selected artist or shop owner each month as part of my goal to promote members of the indie/handmade community that I believe in. Hannah Lynn is one of my all-time favorite artists, for so many reasons: her colorful artwork, affordable products, genuine enthusiasm, dedication, excellent customer service, and warm personality, to name a few. She kindly agreed to my interview request, and I guarantee you will love her and her work.
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Thank you for joining us today, Hannah! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Thank you for having me! I am a self-represented Fantasy/Character style artist who works out of her home studio in the small town of Idaho Falls, Idaho. I have been connecting with people online through sites like Etsy, eBay, and Facebook, and also in-person at shows for about 6 years professionally. My artwork can be found on a variety of licensed products like cross-stitch, stamps, jewelry, and more, while direct items like original paintings and artist prints can be found in personal collections all over the world!

Did you always know you were going to be a professional artist?
Actually, not at all. When I was younger I wanted to be a teacher. I loved art, but growing up in the 80’s and early 90’s, we didn’t have the opportunities that the internet provided for today’s businesses. My stepfather was a starving artist with an AA in Graphics Art who never made anything substantial on his artwork, despite being extremely talented (again, lack of connections because the internet wasn’t around!), so the career wasn’t looking like a viable path. We were very poor growing up, and more than anything I wanted to help people and be financially stable, so I assumed art would be a hobby for me and worked hard on my studies.

I had a passion to do something that really made a difference in other people’s lives, and school was just as easy as artwork was for me. I applied to UC Davis for their pre-med program and was accepted, but circumstances changed and I ended up putting school off for a while and jumped into the workforce. I started working at a coffee shop at age 17 in Sacramento, California, and became the store manager 18 months later, at age 19. I also married my husband at that time; we celebrated our thirteenth wedding anniversary just last month. I didn’t do much with my artwork for almost 10 years in between. I enrolled in online school a year after I had my first child, specializing in business but having every intention of going into Education Administration, then one day…

Were there any experiences in your life that shaped or inspired your artwork?
I had an idea. I always had ideas, constantly. I have always been a business girl at heart, knocking on doors selling my handmade bookmarks as early as third grade, and getting my first paid commission in seventh grade from my Science teacher! I was a stay-at-home mom with a toddler and an infant, in full-time online school. I decided I really needed something for me; a hobby. I realized that I used to LOVE to draw and color, so I went to the store and got some cheap colored pencils and cardstock just to play with, since I didn’t have any adult art materials in the house. I had this idea to take pictures of my adorable babies, cut them out, add hand-drawn fairy wings to them, and put them in shadow boxes. I thought it sounded fun and wondered if other people would buy them for their own children, so I popped up my computer and started searching around to see if anyone else was already doing it and see if it was a viable business option.

While searching online, I found these little miniature pieces of art on eBay. They were only 2.5”x3.5”, the size of a baseball card, and people were cramming as much detail on those little cards to make it look like a huge painting! Some of them were selling for as high as $100 to $300 apiece, while others were selling at a penny or 99 cents. For me, I thought it would be a perfect hobby, because I was still in school with 2 very young children, and the cards were very small which made them easy to create, list, sell, and ship. I sold a lot of my first cards for 99 cents, made from cheap pencils on cardstock, and they were completely random subjects like animals and seasonal stuff. One month later, after doing some research, I realized that mermaids and fairies were continually selling well. So I tried that, and immediately I was so busy I couldn’t paint fast enough to keep up with the demand!

Is there anyone in your life who influences your art?
My children help me to tune into that child-like nature that brings me back to when I was child, drawing, coloring, and dreaming the day away. I just love Disney movies, fairy-tales, and heart-warming movies!

Who are your favorite artists?
I like anything and everything! I love folk art, traditional artworks, cartoon style, and fantasy art. Most of the artists that I admire actually went to school for it and hold a degree, and you can see it in their finished works. Meredith Dillman, Sheila Wolk, and Dominic Philibert are a few that pop into my head in that group. I also absolutely adore Jessica Galbreth’s new line of Vintage Angels, and Jasmine Becket-Griffith has been an inspiration to me in that she has a large focus on the face, like I do, which is actually quite rare. I thought I was weird for only wanting to do faces! Hehe. Outside of that genre, I have always adored Wyland for the intense colors that I seem to gravitate towards. I am not much of an art buff, surprisingly, so I won’t pretend that I know too much about it; I’m just like anyone else…I like what I like!

One thing that drew me to your work was the diverse range of hair colors the girls in your pieces sport. Have you ever dyed your hair a crazy color?
Haha, no! My hair was blonde when I was younger. I went darker for a good decade, then blonde again. One thing that I definitely took away from my stepfather, the artist, was that there are no rules in art. Grass doesn’t have to be green, the sky doesn’t have to be blue, and hair doesn’t have to be blonde or brown!

What do you like about where you live?
Growing up in Sacramento, California, Idaho is a very serious contrast! There are plenty of things that I miss about my home state, but I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now. I really like nature and outdoors and that is really big here, and the cost of living allows me to afford a much nicer lifestyle (allowing me to stay home with my children and operate on one income while I build my business). The people are wonderful; the sense of community is strong and people are polite, kind, respectful, and open. Things are still simple here, there is very little traffic, laws are mainly suggestions, and lines are almost non-existent….even at the DMV! It is small town with all the big-city amenities. It is a great environment for my family and I love it outside of the very long winters!

What do you like to do when you are not working?
Um, I work a lot! But I am also a mom, wife, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, sister, etc…so I like to spend time with my family doing things like shopping, riding the 4-wheelers up in the mountains, camping, watching movies, gardening, going for walks, going to my girls’ soccer games, and taking them to the park and zoo. I spend most of my “spare” personal time watching a little bit of TV with my husband, talking with friends, or reading, but mostly I use my spare personal time to work because I love my job! I also used to sing on the music team at church, which I loved, but I ended up having to give that up for time reasons. Now I just sing in my studio while I work!

I am amazed by how often you release new pieces, considering all of the projects you are involved in as well as responsibilities outside of work. Any tips you would offer someone struggling with balance and time management?
Balance is something that every person, self-employed or not, strives for. I have noticed it comes more abundantly with age; things just seem easier to manage as you get better at focusing on balance. Being well organized can manifest time that disorganized people just don’t have. Wasting time digging through paperwork or trying to find children’s shoes, for example, are things that eat up valuable time! Dedicate as long as it takes… a weekend, or a good, solid week, to get everything organized, and find a place for everything. Then it is much easier to keep it that way. Plus, I think people discount the “mind” de-clutter that takes place when everything in your surroundings has a place. When you are organized, well-rested, and healthy, there is a very natural flow and sense of clarity, which fosters efficiency.

I eat well, take breaks, and sleep as much as my body needs. I sometimes exercise, and even though I work from home, I do my hair and make-up every day before I go down to work in my studio. I take really good care of myself, because if I don’t feel good about myself, I am of no use to my family or my business. I take time off when I feel I really need it, and push myself when I feel like I am capable of accomplishing a little more. There are times when I have deadlines that I really have to push hard, but I have always been a hard worker and hard work doesn’t scare me. I don’t paint nearly as often as I should, but in the fall I plan to hire an assistant, which will grant me more time to paint. I can’t claim to have the perfect Zen balance, but for the most part I feel like I keep things under control!

What do you enjoy most about being an independent artist/self-employed?
The freedom to choose what I do with my time and the ability to take good care of myself. If I don’t feel like working because the weather is nice outside, I can call up a friend and go out to lunch or switch something in my schedule and take the girls to the zoo. That also means making up for it later, sometimes working until 10 at night and later, but that doesn’t bother me at all!

What challenges do you face or things do you dislike about self employment? 
The uncertainty, the never-ending list of things that I could be doing to get ahead, and the up and down sales. It’s a constant game of sacrifice and balance; there’s no way of knowing for sure what lies ahead, but you still have to make decisions and take action based on experience and educated projections. It takes years to really build something that offers some sort of predictability.

What advice would you offer an aspiring artist or someone who wants to start a small business?
If you don’t love it, you will quit, period. You have to be really invested emotionally and earn an intrinsic sort of paycheck in order to keep going when you want to quit, which will be at least once, if not twice, each day, because the challenges are monumental. There is nothing more challenging or frustrating in this world than working harder than you have ever worked before, giving all of yourself to a big dream, and draining your account instead of getting a paycheck, while watching other people (appear to) live comfortably, take vacations, and buy new clothes. Working for someone else and having a steady, reliable paycheck sounds like a more efficient and effective use of time and energy when it comes to earning money, because it is. Making a paycheck at all can be a majorly elusive after replenishing supplies and paying fees. But, if you can make it through the period of sacrifice, you can be financially successful and live your dream. You just always have to have the end in mind, and have a good support system. You can quit all you want, just as long as you start back up the next day! Treat your business like a business, and do your best to set a schedule if you find you are working too much or too little.

Are you working on any projects or pieces that you are excited about?
Yes – my Trading Card Project! I have been building my portfolio for about 4 years now, and the mini ACEOs (Art Cards, Editions & Originals) have always been a popular seller for me in both the original form and in prints. I am now getting ready to release 50 of my most popular artworks in professional trading card form, double-sided, with UV coating, complete with a short-story caption, character stats, and original artwork stats, all created and written by me!

(Note from Kelsea: I pre-ordered my trading cards and just got them in the mail yesterday. They are so gorgeous! I love reading their little stories. They will be available to order again after Comic-Con.)

Tell us if there are any events you have lined up where we can find you and your artwork in person.
The next show that I have coming up is Comic-Con International in San Diego, July 12-15, which is just a few weeks away! All the tickets have been sold for the event, so if anyone already has tickets, please come see me at table A-10 in the Exhibitor Area! I will also be at the Sidewalk Art Festival in Idaho Falls on July 28-29, and the Eastern Idaho State Fair in Blackfoot, Idaho, on September 1-8.

Thank you so much for sharing your stories and advice with us on Pink Wonderland, Hannah!

You can find Hannah and her work in these places:

I have ordered a lot of pieces from Hannah! They always arrive lightning fast, well packaged, and even more gorgeous in person. She posts fun deals, giveaways, and "in-progress" artwork photos frequently, so be sure to “like” her facebook page if you are interested in her work!

As a little side note, the Pink Wonderland launch photoshoot idea was generated and evolved through discussion between me and my friend Zoe. However, after the shoot, I realized how the theme was actually quite similar to my favorite Hannah Lynn piece, Birthday Girl, which I have had up in my craft studio for nearly a year now. So either that theme just really speaks to me personally, or glancing at it while in my studio somehow influenced my subconscious decision to select that photoshoot theme. Intentional or not, I find the similarities pretty cool!

13 comments:

  1. What an awesome post! I love this :)

    ♥ Naomi {Starry Eyes + Coffee Cups}

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  2. AWESOME post and SUPER-DUPER sweet artist. Hannah is a blessing to know...so excited you've interviewed her!

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    1. Thanks for reading, Jennifer! I know, I had so much fun reading Hannah's interview responses!

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  3. winkelhaven6/21/2012

    I have two Hannah Lynn originals! Her artwork is divine.

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    1. Are you kidding me? I had no idea you knew about Hannah Lynn, Aunt Peggy! Now that I think about it, her work is completely your style. Not sure why I never thought to mention her to you! That is very cool. I'll have to take a look next time I visit NJ!

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  4. winkelhaven6/21/2012

    I have Valentine Bee Bird Parrot Heart (hard-won from an eBay auction) and Mermaid Fantasy from Etsy; both are original ACEOs. In addition, I have 2 limited editions with Owls and the Inspirational WoodArt Blocks.

    You actually led me to her site through FB when she was looking for project financing (not sure if it was Kickstart or some other site).

    So yes, I am a FAN!

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    1. Hah ok, that makes more sense! I was wondering about that... =)

      I have the Alice in Wonderland ACEO!!

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  5. These are SO LOVELY! I wish I was this talented!

    Also I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger award here: http://northwestgrits.blogspot.com/2012/06/versatile-blogger.html

    xo

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    1. Thank you so much, Laura! =) Yeah, Hannah is very talented!

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  6. I'm really glad I found these, her art is great! I love this style, it reminds me of all the cartoons I love like the old Rainbow Brite, My Little Pony and Sky Dancers shows. I feel inspired to go draw now! Definitely going to check out her websites as well.

    xoxo, Sarah
    www.sassyriot.com

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    1. I love Hannah Lynn's art too - I have tons of it!!

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