Hannah Coates : The Daily Illustrator

"Hello there, my name is Hannah Coates and I am an illustrator based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. My work mainly combines nature, patterns and brash colours so that an image becomes playful and invites the eye to look closer. I enjoy adding narrative to my work, by adding little objects or creatures to an illustration, everything begins to become more playful and it comes to life." Interestingly, Hannah claims to be notoriously bad at drawing faces and so her self portrait remains featureless. Read on for today's interview to find out some more about The Daily Illustrator. 


WHEN DID YOU FIRST START ILLUSTRATING AND KNOW WAS IT SOMETHING YOU WANTED TO DO AS A PROFESSION?

It is hard to say! I have been drawing since an early age and I always knew that I wanted to be an artist of some sort. I remember a project in primary school where we were required to make a felt square about what we wanted to do when we grew up, mines had an easel and paint palette on it, and it still hangs there to this day! When I went to Uni, I originally wanted to be a Fashion Designer, then a Textile Artist, Graphic Designer, then eventually an Illustrator. I found there was a lot more freedom with illustration and I soon realised that I wanted to make a career from it.

WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR INSPIRATION?

I'm very much inspired by nature and unusual landscapes, I love watching David Attenborough documentaries, I would get a lot of inspiration from some of the isolated landscapes he has visited. I'm also a fan of the photographer, Per Bak Jensen, there is something very ethereal or mystical about his work.

HOW DO YOU GET THE IDEAS FOR YOUR ILLUSTRATIONS?

Again I would be very much inspired by landscapes, but i would get most of my ideas from films as well, such as Life of Pi. I just thought it was visually stunning, and I have used it a lot for my inspiration, particularly the flying fish. I'm also a big fan of Studio Ghibli, particularly the film Spirited Away with its wacky story line.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEDIUM TO WORK WITH?

I work with quite a mixed bag of things, but I mostly work in pencil or pen and it usually the finest tip pencil or pen that I can find. I love the fine detail that i am able to achieve with them. I suppose you could say my work is very much like a digital collage, I usually draw each element separately then I bring them together  and colour them in Photoshop. This means i usually have more freedom to change things or move them around. Sometimes when people see my sketchbook, they never see a final drawing, they always ask, "Where is it?" and i usually say, "Well there is some on that page... And this page... Oh and I used this little doodle in the corner too."

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON?

I was doing a lot of work recently for the launch of Belfast's first illustration agency called Usfolk, which I really enjoyed doing as I created some of my best work. But I have been working on a personal piece based around the Jungle Book, it was actually the first film I got on video (proper old school) and because of the recent new release.

CURRENT PLAYLIST AS YOU WORK?

I usually listen to a bit of everything when i'm working, but I have been listening to a lot of the artist called Gallant, he is pretty good if your feeling stressed! But i'm a sucker for 80s hits, so I usually have a bit of Madonna or Spandau Ballet thrown into the mix.

ARE THERE ANY ILLUSTRATORS THAT YOU ARE A FAN OF THAT DESERVE SOME EXPOSURE?

One of my favourite illustrators is Barbara Ana Gomez. I met her in London a couple of years ago and her work is stunning. I'm also a big fan of Victo Ngai.