This week’s featured artist is illustrator Mary-Anne Hampton. Stathi Kougianos chats to the Hruki designer and Thomas Krane tambourinist/vocalist about folklore and freelancing.
DIY: Describe the process you go through when creating an illustration from start to finish.
Mary-Anne: Very basically; latch onto an idea, find some references, and scribble away until something works. With a few moments of crippling self-doubt and despair in between. As long as I constrain myself from scrumpling up the paper midway, things usually turn out okay.
DIY: What subject matter do you find the most difficult to portray?
Mary-Anne: I have a lot of trouble with cars and buildings and anything that has a straight edge. I’m better with organic things that allow you nice loose lines. They’re more forgiving.
DIY: When you were tasked with creating the visual language of the Hruki brand, what was your initial vision or inspiration, and did it change as you worked on it?
Mary-Anne: A lot of the Hruki designs were designed in collaboration with the bands we’re involved with, so they helped shuffle some inspiration my way. Other than that, it’s whatever popped into my little head at the time. The other designers involved, like Kevin Parry and Hylton Warburton, were also given free rein, and did some really great stuff. There isn’t much of a master plan, it’s just meant to be fun with an occasional dark twist.
DIY: I get the sense that you’re influenced by folklore in a lot of your work. Is that a fair comment?
Mary-Anne: Really? How nice for me. I do love a good story, and folklore are the stories that have stood the test of time. I do seem to draw a lot of wolves and other european critters that have repeat folklore appearances. That might be because I’m a little confused about being pale and speckly in Africa. Or because I like wolves.
DIY: What is your favourite style of illustration?
Mary-Anne: I love poster art that’s simple and clever and has limited colour. Like Toulouse-Lautrec. Or whoever it might be that does the Wilco posters. But I’ve also developed a thing for more fiddly illustrators like Camille Rose Garcia. As far as my own style goes, i like playing with ink and seeing what happens. If you can call that a style.
DIY: What are you busy working on right now?
Mary-Anne: Some branding for a coffee outfit in Burundi. I should probably get back to that soon. They’re getting restless.
DIY: How do you keep your work fresh? Do you need to consciously adapt your style or does it progress naturally?
Mary-Anne: I’m not too sure. I do have a very short attention span. It means I tend to adapt style every few months or so. Which isn’t brilliant for business, as it confuses people. But otherwise I’d feel completely stagnant. Lately I’ve been trying to avoid the internet. It’s too easy to be completely overwhelmed by images. And it’s always sad to make something and then realise its just a copy of a copy of something that you saw briefly on fffound a few months ago.
DIY: How do you balance the business side of designing when freelancing?
Mary-Anne: Not very well.
DIY: Any client horror stories you’d care to share with us? What were the lessons you learned from them?
Mary-Anne: Most jobs start off so hopeful on both sides. Clients seem to go off if they stick around too long, so try make them happy quickly and sign off before they can have a rethink and want to see it in five other colour schemes. Sigh, boring…
DIY: Apart from being an illustrator / designer you are also a musician in the blues based rock band, Thomas Krane. How did that come about?
Mary-Anne: My brother Dan recorded a bunch of songs in his bedroom, but was finding it tricky harmonising with himself in live shows. So he roped me and a couple other people in to make some noise with him. It’s nice of you to call me a musician though. Thanks.
DIY: Is Hruki planning a new range anytime soon?
Mary-Anne: Not any time soon. I think Hruki might be a bit dead. Shame.
Check out more of Mary-Anne’s work on her website