Meet Hannah Rae Powell - Artist & Graphic Designer
When we stumbled across Hannah's Matisse-esque forms and dreamy colour palette, we were hooked. We decided to catch up with the Melbourne based Artist and Graphic Designer to chat about what drives her work and to find out what she's up to next.
Tell us a little about your work, what is your background and when did you begin as an illustrator?
Weirdly it is something I have always done, but officially I have only been promoting and selling my designs for about a year! I have piles of sketchbooks with line drawings and illustrations in a vaguely similar abstract style from years ago. But it really took me until I was about 26 to really realise a) it was something I was actually good at and b) something I could try to turn into a career (or at least a busy side project).
Your illustrations seem to represent female form through abstraction and there's something really spirited about them. What is it about femininity that inspires you and has it always been at the core of your work?
The first piece I created that really opened my eyes to the possibility of making art and illustration was a front cover I did for a friend's feminist zine which really formed the base of my feminine symbolism. I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by such strong, intelligent and influential women and am always inspired by the collective power and support this comes with, which I always portray in my work through strong shapes and lines and from here I have never looked back. I think it will always influence and feature in my work.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I’m all over the shop all the time! But working full time in commercial graphic design means I am usually being sedentary behind a computer in an office, which is unhealthy but necessary. I’m lucky to have the flexibility of quite short days, which means I start and finish early and then that frees up my afternoon/nights to work on freelance projects and try and squeeze some drawing and painting in. I’m almost always trying to do a million things at once while maintaining a social life/relationship/some kind of mental sanity, so coffee and wine help a lot.
Are there any artists in particular who have impacted your work?
So the biggest and most obvious is Matisse. And on a more home-grown scale I absolutely adore the work of Frances Cannon, Abbey Rich and Minna Leunig.
Tell us a little about your approach towards colour. Do you work intuitively with colour or is it influenced by experience/place or elsewhere?
If I’m painting it’s always intuitively (or what colour paint I have left, because damn…it’s expensive). And for digital work I will often reference a colour palette from a photo I’ve taken or stills from a film and most recently I’ve been absolutely obsessed with 1970’s interiors and textile designs so definitely taking a big influence from there.
You're based in Melbourne, do you find your environment greatly impacts your creativity? What are some things you love about the city?
I actually have just recently moved about 40 minutes from the city, so I’ll be curious to see how that affects my work living a bit slower in the suburbs, I’m currently working on making my home-studio so despite being far away from the scene I think I’ll have more time to properly dedicate to work and hopefully be more productive. But I will always be in love with Melbourne! I’ve just been overseas and I always turn into the biggest brand ambassador when I’m away because I genuinely think it is the best city for so many reasons, we are so lucky and spoilt to have such a fabulous art/music/fashion/coffee/food scene.
Do you listen to music when working? If so, what do you listen to.
Absolutely, I’m constantly listening to music for almost any activity I do, so I change it up all the time but if I’m painting usually Beach house/mazzy star vibe. And old favourite/queen Patti Smith on repeat, always.
What's next for you?
I’ve got some really fun stuff coming up ! A collaboration with a local leather goods designer on a range of bags, an EP cover, a few group shows and a big mural wall in a bar! So lots of things happening which is equally as fabulous as it is overwhelming.