Guest Artist and design collaborator Hanna Whiteman answers a few questions about her inspiration, artwork, and latest pieces for Shukr.
What is your background (Artistically and personally)?
I was born in Buckinghamshire in 1984 to an Anglo-American Sufi couple recently converted to Islam. My parents are both great artists and living in such an artistically rich surrounding really helped develop my skills and awareness. They fully supported me in taking an artistic career and this support is essential to keep me going. They took us traveling to many countries when I was little and this exposure to other cultures was greatly influential. After getting fed up of the grey English weather and the terrible prospects of a heavy debt just to get an education in art in London, I ventured to Andalucía, southern Spain and have lived here ever since! Here I have been able to study Jewellery Design, Print Making and Illustration for free and I really appreciate that. I keep training via e-courses and local workshops, which have helped amazingly to keep renewing my knowledge and interest.
Why do you do what you do?
Because I am incredibly passionate about pattern and illustration. I am so happy and calm when designing. I think everyone should follow their passion because you can really tell when someone loves what they do. I think creating anything which is beautiful is an obligation for all artists, Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty. I think most Muslim artists would say that their work is in a way remembrance, as we are all in awe of nature’s beauty.
From where do you get your inspiration?
Nature is my main source of inspiration: seed pods, flowers, leaves etc. But I get inspiration from pretty much everywhere! I actually see patterns around me constantly, it is quite amazing actually. Even an old grill or a bit of graffiti might inspire a pattern or colour combination. I always keep a visual journal (sketchbook) with me and pen and pencil. I also keep old sketchbooks from years back as they are great for a blank moment when I need some instant inspiration. I love collecting bits and bobs to stick into it, stamps, bus ticket, dry leaves etc. All sketchbooks should be bulging and well leafed through. I never really represent nature in its pure form, realistically; I tend to stylize whatever I see. My style is usually bold and colorful. I love patterns that mesmerize and lead the eye all over the place
What is your favorite type of art to create?
I illustrate books and journals but what I love above all is creating repeating patterns. There is something quite fascinating and enthralling about continuous patterns. I design patterns mainly for textiles, bags and scarves in particular.
What does modesty mean to you?
Firstly, it is an attitude, about being modest about what you have, know, believe etc. Modestly is also an essential part of self-respect. Not flaunting it all is a way of showing yourself and other you respect your body. It is a core value in our faith because both men and women need modesty as an integral attitude throughout their life.
What inspired you for your design collaborations with SHUKR?
Islimi, or Turkish arabesque designs were the source of inspiration for this design. The intertwining quality of Islimi is very dynamic and, although I gave it my twist, it maintains that classic feel. Its feminine style is so well fused with the contemporary design of the sweatshirt.
Geo was inspired close to home, here in Andalucía, the south of Spain- such a rich Islamic heritage so well preserved. The three pointed motif is mosaic from the great Nasrid Alhambra Palace in Granada, and its textile is a knot design which works really well together, the design spins off randomly which looks great on the sleeves. I also played around with some textured motifs and so me just with the outlines. This contrast looks great especially on the black version of the dress.
Maxi Sweaterdress Hoodie Both designs were printed as linocuts and then colored and edited using Illustrator and Photoshop
What do you have shukr for?
I have shukr for everything is my life, may it be ease or difficulty, as all it is all divine. I think gratitude is an attitude which so many young people in our community lack. So many are spoiled and have no idea of hard work and a fruitful ending. I have great shukr for this opportunity to showcase my textile designs and this is the beginning of a lot more.
What advice can you give to new artists?
Believe in yourself, work hard, study hard, and produce good work that people will love. Don't fear failure; just enjoy everything as it comes. Find good teachers who want to share their knowledge. Invest every spare moment in improving your work and making it a reality. Getting out there is scary, but a vital step in your path. See More of Hanna’s work Here Photos of Hanna's Studio and work taken by: Belén Beltrán Mellado