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Q&A with Hannah Warren

Award-winning illustrator from London, UK

My name is Hannah Warren, I’m a London based illustrator and human woman.

How did you get started in illustration? What is a turning point in your professional career?

I got my first couple of freelance jobs fresh from graduating from the Royal College of Art and in a quite rare case of people visiting the Show and commissioning me. They were two really different jobs, one to draw and animate a very short promo for the “How To Hour” on the Discovery Channel, the other to create very tactile book illustrations for NOMA, published by Phaidon. I didn’t realise it at the time, but illustrating this book really helped get my work seen by a lot of people and I still get enquiries off the back of this job. Illustrating Tired of London, Tired of Life published by Virgin Books was a key turning point for me also as the design had a strict colour palette to work with. It was the first project where I started to use solid colours and drawing using a Wacom tablet in Photoshop. It’s how I continue to work today!

What is your ideal work environment? Do you prefer to work in your art studio all day long or prefer to mix a few activities?

For many years I had a home studio in Bermondsey south London and I only recently started to work from a shared space in a converted warehouse in Hackney (so clich?!). That time working alone with pod casts and pot plants for company has encouraged me to get out and about as much as possible. I like to sketch roughs and ideas away from my desk with a coffee, but all other work is in the studio with the radio on and studio buddies and studio dog Stevie.

Where does your work inspiration come from? (Do you believe in 'inspiration' at all)?

People mainly. Much of my work involves colourful characters doing different things. I’m a naturally nosy person and at any time I’m sat having a coffee or walking or waiting for something I’m usually also watching other people. Sometimes little bits of their lives slip out in public and if I’m lucky I’ll sketch that in one of my many passport sized sketch books. I have about 5 on the go at once in different bags or coat pockets. They’re great for looking through and working from later.  I love the bold colour palettes of mid century print advertising and the travel posters of Tom Purvis.

Where are your favorite art places in your city or outside?

I live close to the Thames so I’d say that the Thames path is my favourite place. I like to walk on the south side where you have a great view of the crazy financial metropolis of Canary Warf from one of the City Farms. In the other direction, I’d cross the river and head towards The Barbican and visit the garden rooms and pretend I live there.