Hattie Newman


Written by Hatti Whitman
19 Monday 19th December 2011

Hattie Newman is a London-based illustrator whose work combines pure whimsicality with bold design and execution. With a portfolio that includes advertising campaigns, magazine editorial, window set-design and a whole host of projects in the pipeline, she found time to answer our questions too.

Hi Hattie, thanks for talking to Don’t Panic. First off, can you tell us a bit about how you got into illustration and set design?

I’ve always had a natural desire to create things. When I was younger I was obsessed with drawing towns and villages and wanted to be an architect! I think I only decided to pursue illustration as a career when I was on my art foundation course in Bristol.

I studied illustration at Bristol UWE where I was introduced to all forms of illustration including animation, pop-ups, and print. I spent the first year after university working at a window display company and assisting set designers and that gave me the confidence to go freelance.

You have an impressive client list, but was it difficult starting out as a freelancer?

At the beginning it’s financially difficult, having to juggle part time jobs, and working for little or no money to get a foot in the door - I think that’s the same for most industries! Before I could afford it, I started renting a studio and that gave me the drive to start earning money from my illustration work.

You manage to put a unique stamp on all your work. How important do you think it is that a brief allows creative freedom?

I find it more important that a brief is clear in its objectives as well has having an amount of flexibility to allow for movement creatively. I enjoy being creative within defined parameters and I also find that collaborating with an art director and people from different disciplines can create the most exciting results!

People tend to think of illustration as a 2D concept. How would you say that your work challenges that?

I don’t consider that my work sets out to ‘challenge’ 2D illustration. I studied 2D illustration but my work naturally evolved because I was interested in how it could come to live physically. Although my work is usually 3D, it’s often for a 2D context. For example, I will make a 3D set, it will be photographed and it will end up being printed in a magazine.

Do you feel like there’s more of a market for mass-media work nowadays?

If anything, I find that markets are increasingly more sophisticated these days – people choose what media they want to consume and companies tailor campaigns to very specific markets rather than ‘the masses’. This is done in all kinds of applications, for example the brochure I worked on for Honda was targeted only for Honda car users, and I made an animation for Louis Vuitton that was only used internally.

Most of your work is incredibly intricate and detailed. How long do you tend to spend on a single project?

Every project is different but it usually a week or more. It’s frustrating because I always want to be moving onto the next thing, and I have so many ideas that I never get round to doing because my work is so time consuming! On the hand, I have illustrator friends who have been working on a children’s book for years­­­­­, so actually my projects are relatively short in comparison!

Are there any artists or illustrators (or anyone really) who you would say have had a particularly strong influence on your work?

Like most people, I’ll never forget the programmes and films I watched as a kid, and I think my favourites; Postman Pat, The Muppets and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, have influenced my work ever since. Other influences of mine are animators like Jan Svankmajer, The Brothers Quay and early 20th century filmmakers such as Georges Méliès, George Smith, and Len Lye. I’m captivated by the experimentation and imagination in their films; they are (or were!) so ahead of their time.

Do you have any projects in the pipeline?

I am working on a few projects at the moment involving clowns, giant shampoo bottles, and hats - all will be revealed next year! I also have hopes to collaborate with photographers and fashion designers I admire and to open my online shop.

To see more of Hattie's work take a look at her website.

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