She could even make Darth Vader play a piano ballad to Elton John’s classics through her art. And if this feels like a maddening stretch of the imagination, take a chill stride to this interview to find out how Hannah Magee works up her creative space to create illustrations turned inside out of our daydreaming buzz!
Graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design, Hannah Magee is an outstanding illustrator delving into the constant art of perfecting her niche, Fantasy Art or as defined by her – half romantic and half nostalgic kind of melancholia
“It’s good to appreciate the melancholy that comes with life..” Your art is reflective of both melancholy and dark mystery. From all kinds of emotions that you could pick, why did you choose ‘Melancholy’?
Hannah Magee: Melancholy is a very specific emotion in my interpretation. It is not totally sad. It is rather romantic, and it has got a bit of nostalgia as well. I like the feeling that an image instilled with melancholy can evoke – longing, mystery, and intrigue. I want to look at an illustration that has this familiar feeling; the feeling to hop into it and figure it out like a puzzle. This is what I hope to put into most of my work.
You recently graduated in 2021 with a Bachelor’s degree in Illustration, yet art has always been a pivotal part of your life. Who is your ultimate inspiration in life as an artist?
Hannah Magee: I don’t think I could nail it down to one person. The community of artists that I have found over time has really inspired me, though. Growing up I didn’t know any professional artists. I just kept seeking it out until I found it. So this community has inspired me in its entirety such as Early deviant art (a reference to Instagram).
Fantasy art has a cult-like following. The mystique presence of characters appeals to peculiar interest for illustration aficionados. As an artist, in your opinion, which element of fantasy illustration makes it so mesmerizing, apart from the obvious enigma?
Hannah Magee: I think the fact that, in fantasy, you get to witness a lot of realism with fantastical elements put together convincingly, has created a whole culture of how fantasy artworks. It grows, changes, and becomes more or less stylized. But the core of fantasy art is how artists have been able to create things that wouldn’t be able to exist in our world and convince the viewer that it is still real. I love that. It is like we get to see the inside of our imaginations.
Who is your favorite artist when it comes to tactics of storytelling art?
Hannah: I’m not sure I could realistically pin down a favorite, but I love Claire Wendling.
Practice makes you perfect. Even as an accomplished artist, idle doodling and getting unhinged motivation through a blank canvas is inevitable. What is your practice routine? How many hours do you invest in a day?
Hannah: Depending on where you are in your artistic journey, a routine can differ immensely. Sometimes long hours add to the momentum, while other times, focusing on getting things to look a certain way is more important. Presently I make an effort to complete a single drawing/painting project in a day and endeavor to increase the quality over time. This can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 4 hours, depending on the day.
Hannah: In 2022, I worked on my first contract with a gaming company. It was an awesome learning experience and challenged me and my discipline, truly. I can’t wait to see what’s next!
Do you have an escapism nerve-need to escape the world to create something? Or do you derive inspiration from the real world and add a magical twist while illustrating?
Hannah: It is absolutely more of an escapism nerve from imagination! Learning to draw from life while in art school was really eye-opening and made me a more well-rounded artist because of this.
How do you see the digitalization of art? Apart from convenience, which important feature does technology add to your artwork? Which is your favorite app to illustrate?
Hannah: I currently use Procreate, but I have used tons of drawing apps in the past. Photoshop, Clip Studio, Illustrator, and many more. I grew up teaching myself Photoshop, so digital art has always been my main method for creating art pieces with finesse. Though, I did a lot of pencil drawing in sketchbooks throughout my school career. I have done a lot more traditional work in the past 3 years or so, and hope to continue getting better at oil painting this year.
Take us to your professional inventory and showcase your dream project.
Hannah: I love story-driven projects with lots of intricate details and easter eggs! It would be great to work with a team on something really heartfelt and special.
Hannah: There are a lot of people that inspire me so much! I wouldn’t be able to list them all. *a small pinch from the gratitude ocean* Ohheyitskaylak, Imrachelbradley, sanguine, thomaschaimberlainkeen, and inkwellillustrations are all dear to me.
Literature and art have everlasting banter when it comes to creative space. From Vincent Van Gogh to William Blake, art has crossed literary paths time and time again. As an artist with magical wit, which writer would be your inspiration?
Hannah: Oh wow, Well I love fantasy novels. I love Patrick Rothfuss and Brandon Sanderson, and I’m currently reading Will Wight – all great inspiring authors!
Which popular comic character represents your artistic self the best?
Hannah: (With conceited LOL) I do not know if I have enough comic knowledge to answer that. Maybe, like… The Flash; not because I am fast at making good art necessarily, but I can definitely spitball a ton of bad drawings out really quickly.
How do you manage the critical feedback on your illustrations?
Hannah: I love getting critiques from my fellow artists and hearing how to improve my work. Even if I choose to do things differently or implement changes based on feedback, it is significant to be aware of how my work is perceived.
If given a chance to recreate the year 2022 in art, which of your artwork would you place first and last, consecutively, to define the year?
Hannah: I would place my Moon Spirits, a set of animal portraits at the beginning of the year. And I would end the year with my illustration of Dark Summer.
Hannah: I would say, reach out to people! You never know what could happen unless you actually talk to others.
What is your ritual as an artist – from ideation to final result?
Hannah: I often do a few sketches of an idea, and choose the one I believe to be balanced and visually appealing the most to the final. I do not hold on to the way I want an art piece to look, too firmly, in the beginning. This helps me make better visual decisions with no stringent pressure.
The portrayal of women in fantasy artwork is on a colossal level – in detail. Which is your favorite illustrated female character of the dark world?
Hannah Magee: An old example that really inspired me, as a kid, is the goddess Eris, from the Dreamworks, Sinbad movie. I always thought she was the coolest character!
Hannah Magee: I have seen some amazing designs from Home decor, Food Products to web designs. I know this is specific but the tea brand, Celestial Seasonings always had beautifully magical illustrations on their tea boxes. One of my art professors, Mike Wimmer, did a few illustrations for them. I always thought it was fantastic and would love to see that sort of branding implemented in new ways.
2023 has begun. Which exciting new artwork projects will you be working on this year?
Hannah Magee: I have a few ideas. You will have to check my socials to see them as they come.