Wearing a striking red dress and an infectious smile I had to know who that girl across the room was. I was introduced to Hannah Sutton by Kemi Nekvapil at her Kemi's book launch 3 years ago, and she continues to blow me away with her creative astute across so many mediums. Not only is Hannah an illustrator and graphic designer, she has most recently been accepted into the prestigious world-renowned Florence Academy of Art for her classical painting.
Hannah and I collaborated in creating a series of portraits for the relaunch of her business website and artist profile, along with a series of images to use across social media and publicity. When you get two creative's like us together anything is possible with wild ideas of placing an arm chair in the middle of a forest..the possibilities are endless.
We all have a beginning, what was your first ever job?
Goodness, I worked at an elderly person’s hostel as a junior carer. I got to ponder a lot about old age and the meaning of life there.
When did you start your own business?
In my first year of uni, while I studied design I began taking on small jobs for friends who were starting up businesses. This grew and grew and eventually became my full-time job, once I had worked for someone else and learnt about the business side of design.
Why did you begin your business?
A spectacular opportunity landed when I was working as a junior designer - someone found my illustrations online and asked me to design artworks for Target’s children’s clothes.
That kicked my little side business of design into a whole new level. I was designing and drawing around the clock and decided it was time to focus on my own business.
It was a thrill to finally step out on my own! And everything fell into place - the hard work I had done since uni cultivating a network of wonderful clients found me in a job I truly loved and was fully supported.
How do you balance business, love and life?
My boyfriend has started working as a freelance web developer, so he’s on the path to understanding my perspective, but before then it was a challenge for him to understand I don’t work office hours - I am always ‘on’ (which I love!). I work all hours I need to be working.
I have both the freedom to choose my hours and a responsibility to work as many hours as my clients need me to deliver a project. Which ends up in working 80 hours a week a lot of the time. So the biggest challenge is balancing time with the people you love and the work you love.
What was the biggest fear or challenge for you starting your own business?
At the time before starting this business I thought I just wasn’t ‘businessy’ enough. I just really cared about the people I worked with.
I cared about their goals and their businesses, and money came second.
It was a major concern for me that this was my priority because I thought I’d never make money. As it turns out, I set my priorities just fine.
In the beginning, how did you attract your first good clients?
I would normally just scrap the first easy concepts of a design and try to produce something better. Doing the best work I could at the time helped those first clients know I was doing a good job, and the referrals just kept coming.
What do you love most about your job?
Nobody gets to tell me when to stop because I’ve run out of allocated hours on a job. I get to say “that’s enough. It’s perfect.” (Me and the client anyway ;)
Who are your biggest role models or influences that have impacted your career?
If you weren't afraid and had no limits, what would you do?
I would move to Florence, Italy and run an international design studio with creatives from cities all over the world, while simultaneously becoming a world-renowned classical realist painter. And hey, I’m moving to Florence in September 2017 to do exactly that (watch out world) - I’m also fucking terrified.
Any words of wisdom for those thinking of taking the leap?
Prepare to work the hardest you’ve ever worked in your life! And
Prepare to feel like the most fulfilled, ambitious dream-chaser in the room at any party.
Building something, a life and a career where you make the rules is the most wonderful thing to do with your life.
What are you listening to right now?
Chet Baker (the jazz guy, not the Faker)
I received this amazing email from Hannah after our shoot that I wanted to share with you.
Somehow you managed to make the wild vision I had in my mind of the photos I wanted into a reality. At the time of our planning meeting, I struggled to find reference images that perfectly represented what I wanted to pull off, but you stuck by, happily allowing me to fit a leather armchair into your car last-minute so we could later drag it out into a forest for a cool shot.
Those extra efforts were worth it. The realisation of how much work & travel we were trying to cram into a day would have normally had me quite highly strung, but you kept your cool and the whole time I felt as though I was hanging out with a friend and doing something fun for the day (which it also was!) . It was when I started looking at those proof shots when my heart skipped and I thought “Oh my, it’s really happening!
This vision I had is being pulled from my imagination and into reality.
You still surprise me with your skill to seemingly effortlessly take shots that afterwards look like something I’d expect on the cover of a magazine. My vision of what I wanted especially as a designer, I often rely on as being crystal clear. But what you did on our shoot was beyond my expectations.
I have worked with Hannah on creating my logo and branding, she is extremely talented in working with a business to create branding, websites, and illustrations to represent what you do. You can get int touch with Hannah through her website. If you would like to work with me in creating personal branding imagery to show the world what you do authentically get in touch below and see how I can design the perfect shoot.