Interview: Hana Lee – Illustrator

Tell us about yourself, who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
Hello Jung Katz! My name is Hana Lee. I’m from Tokyo, Japan and I study Illustration at Camberwell College of Arts in London. I draw lots of people and anything weird that comes to mind. That’s really all I can do.

How did you get started doing what you do?
I come from a very artistic background. My father is a director and my mother and my sister both graduated art school, so I could say my love for drawing was going to be inevitable. I used to steal my mother’s lipstick and draw all over the carpet, and I don’t think much has changed since then.

Hana Lee IllustrationHana Lee Illustration
What’s your inspiration?
Anything ordinary or extraordinary that happens around me. It could be a strange dream that I had or the disgusting meal I had on a plane, or even a broken air conditioner.

What is art to you?
Means of communicating things I can’t put into words.

Hana Lee IllustrationWhat does your typical day look like?
I often times just sit around and think of what I should do, and spend the last few hours or minutes of the day drawing.

How do you keep motivated?
Sleeping lots, listening to music, derailing myself by watching funny videos and petting cats.

Hana Lee IllustrationWhat do you hope to accomplish with your work?
I’d just like to keep improving. I still tend to work inside my little shell so I really want to push my limits and do things I’ve never done before.

What, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
‘You’ll be famous enough to be interviewed by an amazing art blog and it’ll be great. Also stop wearing that Nightmare Before Christmas jumper because you look ridiculous in it.’

Hana Lee IllustrationWhat’s the best advice you’ve been given?
My father once told me that I shouldn’t try to fit everything inside a frame. Back when he said it I think he meant it literally, but now I interpret it as ‘don’t try to draw things that are conventionally nice and cater to every single audience I have, and do what I like.’ I’ve already upset a few people with my illustrations, but that’s bound to happen.

What are your thoughts on art school?
Art school definitely helped me grow as a person, not just an illustrator. I’ve become more confident in myself and the things I make and I’m honestly nothing like the person I was before.

Hana Lee IllustrationWhat’s your dream project?
Getting a graphic novel published by Nobrow, hopefully. I’d also like to work collaboratively with someone because I haven’t had too many opportunities to do so.

What art supplies do you use?
Fine line pens (0.2 are the best), gouache and photoshop/pixelmator.

Hana Lee IllustrationAny other artists that you would like to recommend for others to check out as well?
Jan Svankmajer, Taiyou Matsumoto, Masaaki Yuasa and Henrik Drescher are my favourite artists and greatest inspirations. I also really enjoy the works of Kaneoya Sachiko and Rebecca Sugar. I’d also like to recommend everyone on my course but that would result in a never ending list of names. But I’m inspired by each and every one of them in different ways and I’m always excited to see their work and it makes me happy that I’m surrounded by such talented people.


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