Stephen Hanson

Painter is my studio and art materials all-in-one. It enabled me to set up my own fine art publishing company

Stephen Hanson's

What inspired you to become an artist?

It’s hard to pin down precisely as I can’t remember a time when I didn’t draw. I remember seeing Mary Poppins when I was 4 or 5 years old and the experience felt like a confetti bomb popping in my brain.

Can you tell us about some projects you are working on right now?

For the past 8 years my wife Lisa and I have been running our fine art publishing company, For the last few years, I have mainly been creating paintings for a series called ‘Toby and his Red Ball’ a character based on our first family dog. I have also just finished a series called SUPERFRIENDS.

The main part of this year so far has been taken up with a new, soon to be released, movie based series of limited edition prints called ‘The Picture House’. Your first question coincides with my idea of producing work based on the reasons why I became an artist and what has continued to be a source of inspiration. It’s also a great opportunity to use the skills I have learned from working in the film industry within fine art. Also, I wanted to take a break from our furry friends but not abandon them of course. Our 4 cats are still waiting to be immortalized and I haven’t finished with Toby yet!

Stephen Hanson's artwork

What has been your favorite project to be a part of and why?

Aside from what I’m doing right now, I would have to say working as a visual development artist on Arthur Christmas at Aardman Animations in Bristol. My memories are of meeting great friends and talented people, living in the beautiful city, bohemian poker and wine evenings and working on a great movie together, it doesn’t get much better than that!

What does a typical day look like for you?

I’m usually up around 5am. I have a coffee while drawing and writing ideas in my sketchbook. At 7:30 I drive to the Titanic Spa where I swim 60 lengths followed by throwing myself into a freezing cold plunge pool and then a body rub of crushed ice. Some mornings are tougher than others to get there but I never regret the effort as it completely wakes my body and mind up and by the time I get back to the studio I’m raring to go.

I work up to midday. Apart from painting, this involves signing prints for customer orders to be shipped out, although Lisa takes care of the biggest part of this which frees me up to be creative. We have lunch and then I take a short nap to recharge the batteries and work through until around 10pm, stopping for a family meal in between.

We then watch either a movie or a new TV series and some evenings I play Table Tennis. I play for a team in the local league and enter tournaments which I’m very passionate about.

Stephen Hanson's artwork

How does Painter help you in the development and creation of your artwork?

It is my studio and art materials all in one. I have been using Painter as my main material source since 1996 and, since then, I have illustrated children’s books, created greeting cards, designed characters and backgrounds for commercials, designed for the games industry, created visual development paintings for Animation Feature Films and with it I have now set up my own fine art publishing company.

What’s your favorite Painter tool and why?

At the moment I’m creating paintings with oil pastel, just add water blender, calligraphy pen and layers, so it is hard to pick a favorite, they all have equal importance. Oil pastel is great because you can paint in a rich way and blend at the same time. Calligraphy pen is great for drawing, just add water is brilliant for blending and layers are an endless source of possibilities.

I use minimal materials and no special filters. All of my work is built through drawing and painting no different than traditional methods. I think where Painter excels, is that it gives the traditional artist a simple to use program where you can just draw and paint but also has hidden depths for those with real imagination.

What are the challenges involved with being a full time artist?

The main one is cash flow. It’s all about turning a white piece of paper into something that people want. Each day I face the uncertainty that what I’m painting may not sell. My latest series ‘The Picture House’ has taken me the best part of 6 months to develop and we have no guarantee of its success. It isn’t for the faint hearted and, if this scares you or you are looking for a stable income, I would suggest you think twice. You just have to believe in what you’re doing. There are some that will assume that because you can draw you don’t have to work hard but the exact opposite is true if you want to survive. Every day I’m honing my skills and trying to learn new things, a lot of days are filled with struggle and self-doubt, but when you are in a flow and make breakthroughs it can be magical.

Stephen Hanson's artwork

What advice would you give to up and coming artists?

Draw and paint every day of the year including holidays! Find your heroes and learn from them but never try to be them. Learn from and measure yourself against the best and aim to be the best. Surround yourself with people who think like you. Above all be passionate about your art, make it your life and never stop learning. I can recommend Bobby Chiu’s Stream on YouTube. It’s well worth checking out as he talks to many great artists about being artists and a lot of what they say rings very true with me, a great source for learning and courses.

Just one last bit of advice that’s very important, get on with people and be easy to work with. Be reliable and professional.

What hardware help you get the job done?

I have an iMac with a Wacom Intuos Pro tablet.

Do you use any other software?

Only Painter but considering Zbrush.

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