Interview with Hannah Horror – Self-taught horror artist from South Wales, UK.
Interview by Jessica Plumb
Firstly, thank you so much for this interview today, and hope all is well, especially with what’s going on at the moment. You started your business in 2019! So when did it all start on the idea of creating your business?
I knew I always wanted to do something creative but I was never sure as to what I could do that would be recognised as a full-time job or even career, particularly having done a degree in Psychology rather than Art. I was pretty miserable in my last full-time job and started finding the time to draw again after years of being too busy, and I think doing that made me finally realise I needed to do something I enjoyed for a living. Even though it was definitely a struggle at the beginning setting everything up from scratch, the hard work has definitely paid off.
You do commission work, what types of drawing of drawings are you being asked to do? How much creative freedom you have?
A lot of people love asking for their favourite characters or celebrities but I’ve done a few cool personal commissions too. I did a portrait of someone’s partner as a Hellraiser cenobite just before Christmas which was a cool project to work on! I always get a lot of different requests when it comes to commissions and it’s always fun to see what people come up with. I tend to be given a lot of creative freedom with them, anything in particular people want or don’t want (crosses, etc.) that are in most of my other portraits we discuss prior to me starting the piece.
Who have been the most famous people asking for a commission?
I haven’t had anyone particularly famous asking for commissions but it’s been cool to see some of the musicians I’ve drawn acknowledge portraits I’ve done of them! I shared the two Chris Motionless portraits I’d done last year on Twitter and he’d seen them and replied saying they were cool, which was pretty awesome.
What’s your creative process from start to finish when creating art for your business?
I’ve always been really inspired by other artists and the music and films that I grew up on and surround me in my everyday life. I always loved Tim Burton films growing up which I think has really influenced a lot of the portraits I’ve done so far, like the Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice pieces that we’ve now developed into T-Shirts. When I’m looking to make new pieces I just go with whatever I feel particularly influenced by at the time – whether it be music I’m listening to or the old horror films I put on in the background while I’m packing orders. When I tend to think of an idea of who or what I want to draw next I find some good reference images, start a sketch, put on some good background music, and just get straight into it.
Were you always creative as a child and interested in drawing?
I definitely leaned more towards art and creative subjects when growing up, between drawing and experimenting with makeup. I was heavily influenced by bands like Cradle of Filth and loved their aesthetic so much, so I definitely tried to incorporate those influences into my work. I also loved watching Tim Burton films and classic horror like Hellraiser – I think idolising these characters and musicians has really influenced the way I incorporate them into my portraits and artistic style.
Have you always been into gothic and dark illustrations/art?
Absolutely. Growing up I really loved artists like HR Giger, Dariusz Zadwadzki, God Machine, Dan Mumford, etc. I loved watching the extras on all the Tim Burton DVDs seeing the artwork behind the films and the way the sets were created and how everything came together. I was always really in awe of how these artists expressed themselves and the beauty in their art, it definitely had a huge impact on my desire to start drawing and painting when I was younger. Growing up I discovered even more artists like Llewellyn and Matt Lombard who continue to be constant influences in work and perspectives in art.
How do you get inspired to make your products and come up with new ideas?
Definitely a lot of research and looking into whether we can make things work. I never imagined my work would grow so much and so many people would be interested in it, so at the beginning, I was shocked that people even wanted to buy prints of my work. The more I got into the swing of selling prints we started to look into more options as to how we could expand – leading to us releasing our first T-shirts last year and progressing into things like notebooks, apparel, etc. We’ve had a great response to a lot of the new items we’ve released to the shop so I’ll definitely be looking into more ways we can expand and progress this year.
With over 7k followers on Instagram, what makes you such a good promoter when selling your goods? How do you feel is the best way to advertise your brand?
I think for me it’s just being persistent and creating new content pretty much daily. It’s so difficult starting out a new social account for your work like on Instagram – the algorithms change all the time, there’s the fear of being shadowbanned for explicit work, etc., it’s pretty tiring at times, especially running the business by myself. Patience is definitely key – you’re not going to gain 100k followers overnight. I found that working with other artists definitely helps too – I’ve been so fortunate to work with so many amazing creators who always support each other and share each other’s work. I feel like for my business it’s just trying to promote new content daily and having that amazing creative support community that has really helped get me to where I am today.
Is there anything new coming out soon? If so, can you tell us?
We have a new shop update being released on the 26th March with a lot of new items. We’ll have some new types of apparel, tonnes of new prints, and maybe even a few top-secret pieces currently in the works! I’m really excited about this update, I put a lot of teasers on our Instagram stories so people can get a feel for what might be included in the drop.
With such an amazing range of prints, which one is your personal favourite?
I think my personal favourite has to be between my Vampira portrait or the Silent Hill nurse. I was obsessed with Vampira growing up – she’s definitely to blame for me shaving my eyebrows off in high school! I always wanted to be like her and just admired her aesthetic so much, so the portrait of her definitely has to be one of my favourites. I really love the Silent Hill nurse too because I loved playing the Silent Hill games growing up and it was such a big influence on my love for horror.
Using such professional photos, do you work with one photographer, or do you have a team?
I take all the product photos myself at the moment due to COVID, having a photographer would be an awesome help for me! Taking better product photos is definitely on my list of things to learn this year – it’s pretty difficult to get really good photos as all my prints are so dark and tend to reflect the light if placed wrong. Investing in a ring light has definitely helped for the time being until we can look into working with a photographer full time.
So far, what exhibitions, events, and features have you had?
The first event I ever stalled at was the Cardiff Tattoo Convention in July 2019 and I was definitely not prepared! I never realised how many things you need to consider when planning to stall at an event like that. Everyone had these awesome banners and displays at their stalls and I honestly had a piece of A4 paper with my pricing and my logo on – no backdrop, no stands to display my prints, it was pretty tragic to look at! But it was such an awesome weekend, I actually sold some prints which was amazing, and got to meet so many amazing artists who were stalling there too. I’m pretty sure I spent all the profit I made on prints from God Machine as he had a stall there too!
After the tattoo convention, I knew I had to up my game if I wanted to do more markets so I got a banner made, more equipment to help display my work, and planned my tables before getting there. I did the Summer Scream art market hosted by the amazing guys at Ghoul Gang Collective – it was hosted in Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol which was absolutely insane. I’m always so thankful to have met Lois and Dexter (the creators of Ghoul Gang), they’re both the kindest people and are always so supportive of everyone in the art community.
The last market I did before COVID was a Devil’s Market in Fuel Rock Club which was a great night, a few of us set up stalls in the back whilst there were cabaret and burlesque performances. It was so great being able to physically sell my work to people and talk to people about it that it led to me planning the ‘Hell on Earth’ market we anticipated we could host last May, but obviously when lockdown hit we had to postpone it. I’m still hopeful if we get the all-clear this summer we can pick up where we left off and make it happen.
Who inspires you? Can you share with us some of your favourite artists?
I’ve always been inspired by a lot of the bands I listen to and always have music playing when I’m working. Bands like IAMX, Type O Negative, Cradle of Filth, and Behemoth have always been some of my favorites and really influence my art and style. Some of my favourite artists are definitely Llewellyn, Matt Lombard, God Machine, Marla Van Horn, Deborah Sheedy, Jannike Viveka, Matthew, and Ryan Murray, – just to name a few. I’ve got so much artwork in my home and in my office because I have to be surrounded by creative things and beautiful art, it really helps set the tone for my work environment.
Do you think they have influenced your art style?
Absolutely. I think without artists like those I wouldn’t have found my own style and path in the dark art community. There is so much gothic style art but to have worked for years on developing my own art style under the influence and aspiration of all these incredible artists is really rewarding. I’m so proud that a lot of people can glance at a piece of my work and know instantly that it’s by me because of the style and signature details. To have achieved that sense of owning my own recognisable art style is probably one of the biggest accomplishments I’ve had so far and I’m pretty proud of myself for how far I’ve come.
What other items do you sell on your site, aside from your art?
I started off with just the art prints but since things picked up at the beginning of the first lockdown we’ve grown into developing a larger variety of products and apparel for those who enjoy my work but may not be able to display prints on the walls of their home. I’d love to look into creating more homeware items like blankets or cushions in the future, I think they’d look pretty cool!
Do you make everything yourself that is featured on your site, or do other businesses/designers approach you?
Everything is created by myself. All the flyers, business cards, apparel designs, prints, packaging, etc. – all by me! I’ve found an awesome company that works with me to create the t-shirts we offer now which has been great and has helped a lot. It’s really rewarding being able to design all the extra little bits like the flyers, business cards, etc. I put in orders and see people enjoying them but it’s definitely hard work!
Who would you love to collaborate with in the future, be it a model, musician, photographer, that you haven’t so far?
I’d love to do some cover art for a band I love or come up with some clothing designs for a company like Disturbia that I’ve always admired. I’m so grateful that I’ve got to work with so many awesome artists already like Occult Box and Box of Goth doing a print for their monthly box subscription now and then. I also got the opportunity to work with Worship 13 last summer creating the Edward Scissorhands t-shirt which was insane – I’d grown up watching their company evolve and always loved their clothing, so being able to work with Bev on a design for the company was awesome.
Has COVID-19 affected your business in any way?
It’s been busier than ever since COVID hit us. It was pretty slow before the lockdown was put into place last March and since then we’ve just grown and grown. I think it could be a mix of growing as an artist and gaining more exposure and people having more time to decorate their homes with things like artwork whilst being told to stay home. The only negative impact COVID had was causing us to cancel the Hell On Earth art market we’d planned for the bank holiday weekend in May at Fuel Rock Club. Fingers crossed if things start to get better over summer we’ll be able to pick up where we left off and be able to put together a safe environment to host the market!
What other interests do you have outside of creating beautiful art? Do you have any hobbies?
Other than experimenting with different makeup looks – which I’ve definitely not done in a while due to lockdown! – I’ve always been really into gaming. Since my fiance and I bought our house 3 years ago we’ve been converting one of the rooms into my office and now also our own gaming room which is pretty awesome. I think a lot of the older horror games have definitely influenced a lot of my work, particularly the Silent Hill franchise.
Thank you so much Hannah for this interview! Please check her artwork out and support this talented artist!