Hannah Rollings

Identifying and Narrating the Woodland Steward. Excerpt taken from the self published book ‘ Diary of a Redundant Cow Shed’.

Who and what keeps you inspired?

I try and keep my work, as close to my own experiences as possible as I find this personal visualization develops more authentic responses and I am able to draw on less literal representations. I like to work from nature and I try to keep visual diaries that allow me to record my own stories and moments. I spent two years working in a woodland coppicing and keeping animals so this made its way into my work producing an artists book ‘A Diary of a Redundant Cow Shed’ and has fuelled my PhD ‘Woodland Stewards of the Future: Exploring the Role of the Interactive Narrative in the Design of the Children’s Picture Book.’

You use a watercolour and ink approach to your illustrations, which has now become part of your style, what importance do you think style has on an illustrators practice?

Style for an illustrator is vital but it can also cripple and hold you back from evolving, for me it is always a case of keeping things as interesting for myself as much as being recognized. It can be a tricky balancing act.

London Transport Museum Competition. London Places; Secret Gardens

As well as creating illustrations you animate your images and make ceramics, what appeals to you about experimenting with different materials and processes?

It is similar to the notion of style seeing how your work transfers through an unfamiliar process can be refreshing and can open new avenues of work. It can also help you see what is essential for your image making as you often have to compromise to get results with your new material or process. Allowing you to reflect and eliminate unnecessary elements that can confuse or muddy an idea.

Do you think it’s important for your professional practice, to involve yourself in new experiences and surroundings?

I have recently taken part in the conference PhD By Design at Goldsmiths University that was a totally new experience for me and was very useful to present my research plans and to discuss potential links and possibilities for dissemination. This is an area I would like to further develop as I build on my practice-based research and find potential ways to share my research through publications and conferences. There seems to greater opportunity within the last 5-10 years for critical discourse within illustration.

Excerpt from children’s activity book ‘An Artist Once Said’ to be published by Buster Books

Is personal work important to you?

I have always found personal work invaluable as it allows you freedom and space to play and make mistakes. Personal work for me is a way of navigating the development of my work. As an illustrator you are in the driving seat to steer the kind of work you will do and personal work can help you do this.

 What Challenges have you faced as you have developed as an Illustrator?

I find the whole process of illustrating challenging that is why I enjoy it and want to continue working in the industry. It can often feel solitary but you only have to take your work into a new environment or allow people to engage with it and you will find there are new ideas conversations to be had that will give you the fuel to carry on. In the early stages after graduating from my BA this was more apparent and I found teaching and working within different settings like galleries, museums and education to be helpful.

Have any of your experiences in teaching inspired your own work?

I have just finished an ‘An Artist Once Said’ a children’s activity book due to be published this coming year which came about directly through my teaching experience. As the studio would be filled by quotes I thought this would be interesting to transfer this studio atmosphere into the format of the book that then got picked up by a publisher. I find teaching a way of reflecting on my own practice and broader developments within the industry and it is always great to see exciting unexpected things happening in the studio. 

Excerpt from children’s activity book ‘An Artist Once Said’ to be published by Buster Books


15th January 2015
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