24 April 2020

Meet the Artists – Hannah Bailey

Posted in: Artists, Awards, Children's books, Design, Editorial, Illustration, Meet the artist

There’s a wonderful specificity about Hannah Bailey’s illustrations, with her carefully developed process allowing her to bring accuracy and sophistication to her subjects. They are as much educational as they are beautiful.

Hannahs work has naturally evolved from humble beginnings winning a Blue Peter badge for a comic strip competition! Perfectly combining naturalistic washes, scientific curiosity and an approachable sense of composition, Hannah’s illustrations have seen her work with National Geographic, Wildlife Trust and Soho House, as well as working on non-fiction picture books with Michael Bright, chronicling the evolutionary journeys of creatures through time.

Looking at Hannah’s illustrations, a viewer will undoubtedly find something familiar; a particular type of butterfly, species of flower or even the kinds of food we eat everyday, Hannah’s commitment to translating the real world we live in into illustrations that celebrate, educate and elevate is continually inspiring.

We spoke to Hannah about Somerset, rural idealism and what drew her to The Artworks…

Where do you live? 

I live in a small village south of Taunton, Somerset – between the Blackdown Hills and the Somerset levels in a 1950’s terraced cottage – under renovation!

Where is your studio located? 

As of this week – newly decorated! – it’s in our spare room with my husband Aidan (also an illustrator, of maps).

Can you describe your creative process?

I start with a pencil sketch, which I use as a starting point to trace and cut out each shape or segment into a stencil. Then I use colourful dye ink in dry brush-strokes to fill the shapes with texture and colour, before scanning and using Photoshop to layer and rearrange them into a final composition.

What does a typical working day look like?

I work well in the mornings so try to get up and at it – especially as we often get carried away with lunch. With both of us working from home, we lunch well. We also play table tennis almost very day in the garden and our dog Bryher takes us on walks.

Do you listen to music or the radio whilst you work? If so, what’s on your playlist?

I find music really distracting but Radio 4 and podcasts are just brilliant to work to. I feel like I’m tricking my mind into doing two things at once. I always listen to Woman’s Hour and love podcasts like RadioLab, Ear Hustle, Criminal and Adam Buxton.

How long have you been with the Artworks for?

3 and a half years.

What drew you to Artworks?

My friends and studio pals Dawn Cooper and Lucy Davey were with the Artworks already and I thought their work was brilliant, besides they seemed to really enjoy being a part of the agency. I was drawn to the fact it was run by three women, and the overall aesthetic seemed just right.

What books or programmes did you love as a child? Have they influenced your work in any way?

I loved reading, writing and drawing and had a crazy appetite for books – I’d read anything I could find from the Phoenix and the Carpet and poetry by Michael Rosen and Dr. Seuss, to Animorphs. It really fed my imagination and I think gave me a nostalgic, rural idealism too. I loved Blue Peter, and was once a runner up in a comic-strip competition. I won a cap and a badge but typically mislaid both shortly after – the hat last seen in the photo attached. 

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be instead?

A writer, or a stonemason.

What was the most important lesson your learned at Art School, if you went!

I learnt to trust my instincts, persevere and play the long game!

What inspires you the most to create?

The wonders of the natural world!

Name three artists that you admire.

John Piper, Ernst Haeckel, Roger Duvoisin.

What kind of commissions do you enjoy the most?

At the moment, I love drawing food.

What would your dream commission be?

I’d love to do a cookbook, but also in the future to illustrate something I’ve written. 

Do you have any pets? If so, what and what are they called?

I have a dog called Bryher – she’s a loving, funny, mischievous, emotional little scoundrel, with long curly ears and flairs, and big brown eyes.

What 5 things could you not live without?

Bryher the dog, tea, sunshine, my family, my friends. 

What is your very favourite meal?

It would be a bits and bobs lunch – with pickles, salads, flatbreads, olive oil, tzatziki, peppers stuffed with cheese, toasted seeds… 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time I like to go on walks, swims, and to eat out and play games – badminton, table tennis and board games. 

What is your current dream travel destination?

South America or New Zealand, but also closer to home, Cornwall or Wales.

To see more of Hannah’s work, click here.