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Interview of Hannah Bigley by Sophie Pellegrini //

Interview of Hannah Bigley by Sophie Pellegrini

Tell us a bit about yourself!  

Hi, I’m a 27 year old woman, living and working in the UK. In 2018, I finished my Masters in Illustration at Camberwell College of Arts, and have since been working as a freelancer (with some part-time teaching on the side)!

What is your favorite medium to work in? Why? 

I love anything to do with printmaking! It’s an excuse to get messy and really immerse yourself in the process, sometimes without being overly precious of the final outcome. The colour overlays that can be created using relief printing are always something I like to incorporate into my work.

What are your favorite subjects to illustrate?

One of my final projects at university was researching, and illustrating, women in music. Since then, I’ve really enjoyed exploring femininity through drawing, and working with symbolism, especially in regards to flowers and their alternate meanings.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

I tend to use more earthy, natural tones, alongside textures created using relief print, which I feel adds a slight nostalgia to my work. I like using subtle symbolism; for example, in the portrait of Florence Welch, I added roses and thorns around her to symbolise balance, of loss and new beginnings, but also the shape in which they sit around her head, is a bit halo-like to show my personal adoration of her. Her hair is shaped like water, to represent both purity and chaos. In my work, the portraits especially, everything is placed for a reason, so I like to think they almost hold a narrative within.

Tell us a bit about your work process.

Normally I start by scribbling in my sketchbook any initial ideas; from there I’ll do some monoprinting. I find monoprinting allows me to not think so much and just ‘do’, so I often get some really random ‘accidents’ that end up taking my work in an unknown or unexplored area I wouldn’t have initially thought of. From there, I’ll draw up final pieces, separating different layers with different colouring pencils to transfer onto lino blocks. Often my final outcomes will be in relief print, sometimes tweaking or colouring digitally.

Do you have a favorite piece or project you’ve worked on?

I really love the Laura Marling portrait I did a couple of years ago. I think I got the right mix of detail to simplicity, and it’s my favourite colour scheme to work with. (It may just be because I have a slightly, unhealthy obsession with Laura Marling though…)

What are some of the key influences on your work? 

Recently, a lot of my work has been influenced by nature, whether that’s the flora I’m drawing, or even a ‘feeling’ of a place I’ve travelled to. The Laura Marling portrait I mentioned earlier was influenced a lot by a previous visit to Joshua Tree in California; I just felt the area had the same presence I would associate with her. I’m also influenced a lot by music, there’s certain albums I listen to when I’m in certain parts of my process; sometimes it can just be a line in a song that can influence an entire personal project too.

When you aren’t making art, how do you spend your time?

I spend a lot of time trawling through charity or secondhand shops for knick-knacks, or small pieces of furniture I can give a new lease of life to. Otherwise, I enjoy getting lost in a good book or TV series, constantly re-arranging my house, or spoiling my two fussy cats. I love traveling to new countries too, but that’s been put on hold a little this year, which in a way has been nice to reconnect with normally mundane activities and find joy in them, such as looking after and enjoying the garden!

If you could go back and say anything to your 13-year-old self, what would it be? 

Draw from life! I used to freeze up and only draw from photographs, but since then I’ve found how beneficial drawing from life can be, it helps to understand forms and light and movement!

How can we keep up with your work?

On my website or on Instagram @hannahelisabethbigley.

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