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Meet the artist: Hannah Cole

Hannah Cole has been an artist with Whistlefish for over a decade now, she describes her work as calming with a sense of humour, which we couldn't agree with more. Living in Brighton and working from her loft-converted studio space, Hannah is inspired from her life by the sea. Whether is be a stroll along Brighton pier, to trips down to the South West coast or even Island holidays with her family, the lure of the sea is always there. Read on to hear what exciting new pieces Hannah is creating next and how a hairdryer is an artists secret weapon...

Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us Hannah, as we know how busy you are! Where are you currently based? 

In Brighton. Currently in my loft! I shared a lovely studio with friends for years but it sadly recently closed down to be converted into flats. It was a lovely old ramshackle building with about 15 of us in there, all doing different arty things. But am very happy being in my loft and we all regularly still meet up for our tea and cake.

Regular tea and cake meetings. Count us in! Heading back to the beginning, how did you become an artist? 

I did a degree in illustration here in Brighton. After graduating, I spent some years working as a freelance illustrator, and then, showed my paintings in their own right for the first time as part of the Open House Trail in Brighton festival. This is a yearly event, where people open up their homes/studios to the public. It's a great way to show your work, and great to get the opportunity to chat to people about your work as well. This gradually led to more and more exhibiting of my work, as well as more publishing work. I've been lucky enough to be painting full-time for years now.

Which mediums or subjects do you prefer?

Acrylics and a hairdryer... I like to work fast! I'd love to have a go with watercolours too, one day.

A hairdryer. You're giving away artist top secrets now! How would you describe your work?

I try to keep the work looking fresh. People often say the paintings seem quite calm as well as humorous. I'm quite happy with that!

They are calm indeed, which is why we love having them at Whistlefish. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Anywhere and everywhere. I love walking by the sea, spending many an hour getting lost in Pinterest, my kids drawings, music, books, little everyday things. I observe people and their dogs in everyday life, listen to their conversations, take photos and make mental notes of how colours work and start to composition ideas.

We love people watching too! Do you have budding artists among your two little ones?

I have a feeling that yes, they will be! Particularly my youngest, she loves lining-up and re-arranging her hundreds of pens (I remember the joys of that myself as a child). My son tells me I need more colour in my pictures, he's probably right, but I can't resist the titanium white! So far he shows more leanings towards maths (I've no idea where those genes came from)!

An artist and a mathematician makes an excellent combo! How would you describe your home?

A project! My other half is a builder and as a result never has the time to do any work on our own house, but we're getting there, slowly but surely.

Good things take time. How about away from home, where’s your favourite place to travel?

I am often drawn towards islands for some reason. Maybe it's the lure of the sea. We visited some lovely islands off the coast of Corsica recently. I love France as well (maybe its the lure of the bakeries) and I lived in Paris for a while.

Living the Parisian life eh, how fabulous! How often do you get to visit Cornwall? Do you have a favourite spot down here?

Not often enough - it's a long way from Brighton! We used to spend every New Year's Eve down there, we're planning to do the same this year, so very much looking forward to that. Mousehole is a favourite, it's so picturesque

Where would your home from home be?

Heading back to the West Country always feels like going home. I love the wildness of the North Devon coast, which is where I grew up.

What’s been your coolest ‘pinch me’ moment?

I'm still amazed whenever I see my work in print, and I feel very lucky that I get to do this for a living.

What’s next for you?

Some new originals for Chelsea Flower Show 2017, I'm very much looking forward to that. I also have a show of new work on the Isle of Wight in May and a new stationery launch with yourselves this year!

We can't wait for your new stationery! How long have you been with us now?

So long I have lost track! It must be at least 10 years though...

A decade! We should celebrate! Do you have a favourite Whistlefish gifting item from he last ten years?

I love the mugs! They're my perfect sized mug, and I love the bone china; we use them all the time at home (and a few friends and family had them for Christmas too).