Today we’re joined by Hannah King. Hannah is a phenomenal visual artist who works in a wide variety of media. They’re currently attending university again to become an art teacher. Hannah hasn’t met a medium they don’t like and has this amazing enthusiasm for visual art. They do illustration, mixed-media fine art, abstract photography, and a variety of other things (as you’ll soon read). There’s an amazing eye for detail demonstrated in the images Hannah sent and it’s very apparent they’re amazingly talented. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I have three different styles I work in. I’m a Fine Artist and an Illustrator, with training in both, as well as a lot of self-directed study in other styles and media.
My first and most often seen style is my illustrative western-comic’s influenced style. With this I tend to do character art, concept art, book illustrations and comics. I use both traditional media – pen and ink – and digital media – anything from Photoshop to PaintTool Sai and MediBang to Corel Painter – to create these images.
My second is mixed-media fine art, in which I use every media I can get my hands on, including everything from stamping-ink to acrylic, fine-line pens to sewing, dried flowers/leaves to hand-made papers, and even found objects. I work mostly on canvas for this art, but sometimes I use hand-made paper. My fine art is either figurative, architectural or non-representational abstract.
My third is a recent foray into abstract photography, using the medium of Instagram. I have a deep and abiding love for texture, so I collect photographs of those textures I discover in my daily life – often these are crumbling walls, peeling paint, shattered concrete and so on – and I have started using these photographs to create abstract images.
My passion is the human figure in all its shapes, colours and configurations. So a lot of my work tends to focus on people, whether characters from novels/tv shows/films/etc or models I have had sit for me or drawn/painted from photographs. I have been making myself work on my non-figurative work, though, so I’ve started having fun with architectural art.
I am also a huge fan of fantasy. A lot of my work, including my fine art, incorporates fantastical elements or is fantasy illustration outright.
What inspires you?
It’s a little cliché to say ‘everything’ but that really is the most correct answer. To get a little more in depth, I guess the human figure inspires me. And well written fantasy. Folk tales. Myths and legends. Painted concrete walls where the weather and age has conspired to peel the paint in interesting ways. Abstract art. Songs with meaningful lyrics. A pretty face. A complicated hairstyle. My own emotions. Ancient, neglected and rusty farm equipment. Weird and wonderful fashion. Tattoos and scars and body modification. I could go on.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I come from a fairly arty-crafty family. My mother dabbles in abstract art, sewing, knitting and scrap-booking. My father makes dioramas and scale models of armed forces vehicles. My maternal grandfather was an architect and painter, maternal grandmother was into hand crafting, knitting, crocheting, drawing. My paternal grandfather was an architect, paternal grandmother is into sewing and knitting.
So when I first started showing signs of wanting to be creative it was encouraged. Even when I drew and painted murals on my walls, ceiling and the back of my bedroom door, I wasn’t reprimanded, just told to keep it to my bedroom. My maternal grandmother taught me all sorts of crafty things – like collage and stained-glass painting – and my maternal grandfather got me started on the basics of perspective.
I first got into comics when I was 11 or 12, and that obsessions lead to my wanting to be a comic artist and an illustrator, which in turn lead to me taking fine art at college and illustration at university. I do now work with a couple of writer friends on some webcomics – not yet published, but looking to get them up soon.
In more recent years I discovered a love for teaching, so now I’m about to go back to university for a post-grad degree in teaching art to 11 – 17 year olds.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?
Because I’m heavily influenced by the likes of Klimt, Mucha, Shiele, Yoshitako Amano and comic artists like Dave McKean, David Mack and J.M. Linsner, my work tends to have a lot of idiosyncratic marks in it.
Normally this shows up in my Fine Art or personal illustrative art. Most often, the marks are tiny squares picking out a checkerboard pattern, sometimes it’s circles picked out in tiny triangles, or negative space filled with interlocking circles or even dotwork.
I try not to do this in commissioned character art, but even then, Mucha’s influence shows out strongly in the way I draw hair and folded clothing. Dotwork sometimes also makes an appearance in my commissioned character art, but I try to restrain it.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Do as much Life Drawing as you possibly can – not only does it fill out your portfolio and make University professors very happy indeed, it also very quickly builds up your ability to not only draw the human figure but also your ability to SEE.
Once you know how to draw a person, once you’ve learned the anatomy underlying how the body works, you can start breaking rules and developing a style of your very own. And once you’ve trained yourself to actually SEE what’s there, rather than draw what you EXPECT is there, you can draw just about anything.
Basically, draw from life as often as you can, even if that means taking a sketchbook out to a public place and drawing what’s around you (you don’t HAVE to go to an actual class to do this!)
Draw everything. Draw all the time. Learn how to see what’s there.
You’ll thank yourself for doing it. Trust me.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
Celibate Asexual, Pan-Demi-Romantic – I’m sex indifferent and mostly find it boring, but I am willing to have it with a partner if they want it. I have been celibate for 5 years and single – with the occasional date – for most of them.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Thankfully not so much prejudice in my particular experience, though there has been some ignorance, mostly in the form of misunderstanding where I’m coming from on certain projects.
I have ended up having some interesting conversations with other artists about the difference between sexual and aesthetic attraction. I think what has helped in my case is that many of the artists I know are also LGBT+ or allies so they have at least some idea of things to start from when they learn of my asexuality.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
That I just haven’t had good enough sex, or sex with the right partner yet. Which is extremely condescending and annoying. Often when this is said to me I’ll give them an abbreviated list of all my sexual partners and the various fetishes I have tried out with them all. Normally this makes them shut up, so I can then give them a basic Asexuality 101 class.
I wouldn’t recommend this for everyone, I only get away with it because I’m in my 30s and I’m normally talking to other people my own age; I also discovered my asexuality late, after a series of relationships, so I actually have a laundry-list of info to dump on people who say this.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
I discovered asexuality very late – I was 28 – and it took me both by surprise and as a huge relief, it explained so many things that had been confusing me and causing stress and anxiety for most of my post-pubescent life. It’s been amazing to know that what I experience is actually a thing, that there is a community I can become part of, that there is a name for me to use.
My advice is to own it.
Read up on it, talk to other asexuals, get to know the community, find your particular flavor of asexuality and own the hell out of it. There are haters – as we’ve seen in the Tumblr community – but they’re not as many as Tumblr makes it look like, I promise, Tumblr’s just a very noisy place, so you can ignore them fairly easily in the real world.
Accept that the majority of the world is sexually oriented, accept that you’ll have to deal with annoying advertising and friend and family comments and opinions. It’s difficult, but it’s not insurmountable, I promise. There are people who get it, who are like you, or who will accept you. There are even people – even non-asexual! – who will date and love you just as you want (if you want! I’ve been mostly single for 5 years now and I have been thoroughly happy!)
There is a place in the world for you, for us, and we are absolutely allowed to take it, on our own terms, whatever they are. So go ahead, own it.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
Thank you, Hannah, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.