Abstract Artist Hannah Noble on Finding Calm in Art

I am thrilled to welcome you to my new ‘Artist Spotlight’ series, where I’ll be interviewing the go-to artists, makers, and creatives whose work inspires and influences my design work greatly.

As an interior designer, I’m constantly searching for unique art, one of a kind vintage, and anything handmade–those special pieces that breathe soul into a space, and give a room some “cool.” Through my process, I’ve been lucky to meet a number of talented artists and creative folks. And, not only did I find what I was searching for in their art, but I also found their stories and experiences to resonate with me too. So, the idea of a permanent blog series was born, to not only celebrate their work, but to let you in on their creative journey in hopes it’ll inspire some of you, too.

My first exposure to Hannah’s work was through Pinterest. It was in the middle of our Canadian winter, with lockdowns in full swing, yet Hannah’s painting instantly transported me to a European summer vacation. Not because the painting depicted an ocean, or sand, or any tangible object at all actually–but because it felt like a warm glow, the sun on your skin, a more carefree state of mind. Grounding. I literally stopped mid scroll and could not look away. After a quick reverse-Google search, I discovered her Instagram and fell in love with her entire body of work.

This experience is what makes Hannah’s work so exceptional. Her work is about conveying a feeling, not any physical object. Intentionally minimalist and tonal, you’ll usually find her paintings restrained to a single colour. Yet the depth and dimension she achieves is remarkable, inviting you in for reflection and thought. In Hannah’s world, large-scale pieces somehow feel intimate, and a single colour can make you feel hundreds of emotions.

The first painting I stumbled across from Hannah. Photo credit: @no7cheltenham

As I’ve gotten to know Hannah through Instagram DM’s and back and forth voice notes (she has the most charming accent, by the way!), I’ve found that our paths have a lot in common. Like myself, Hannah didn’t set out to pursue a creative career necessarily, and spent 10 years building a career in a completely different industry (for Hannah, hospitality, and for myself, sales). Both of us had enjoyed our earlier careers, but felt the inevitable pull towards our creative endeavours full time–myself in late 2020, and for Hannah early 2021. Perhaps that’s why so much of her early work resonated with me, as someone launching a creative business. Hannah paints intuitively, as a way to express how she’s feeling, and from a distance, her paintings felt like a biography of what I myself had been feeling: fear, excitement, joy, and self doubt, all wrapped into one.

Here, Hannah and I chat about her journey. From where she finds her inspiration, to starting a business during a global pandemic, and everything in between. Enjoy!

First thing’s first – talk to us about where it all began. Have you always known you wanted to be an artist?

I’ve never actually thought that I want to “be” an Artist, it’s just something I’ve always done. From a young age being creative was something I did for me, the business side of it crept in really slowly as I transitioned into creating for others, and selling pieces. I sold my first piece of artwork in my late teens, being an Artist full-time is a recent thing for me. Prior to 2020 I had been working in the hospitality industry for near 10 years and felt quite passionately about it. However, I hopped from job to job a lot, and creating has been the only consistent in my life, I hope it stays that way.

Photo credit: @hannahnoblestudio

What has been your biggest career highlight or “pinch me” moment?

I’d say so far that the biggest “pinch me” moment is 2021-22 as a whole, and every single person that has purchased a piece of artwork from me since starting full-time in February 2021. I’ve been commissioned by a lot of people in just over a year and I’m so overwhelmed with gratitude because of it. It really did turn my life around and means a great deal to me. Within that timeframe I’ve managed to launch two collections of work in which both sold out within hours. Definitely a pinch me moment. It means a lot that people see the value in my work. I would be super excited if I could get some work in a hotel or restaurant though. I’m not sure why, maybe because I grew up in them and it’s ultimately where I learned the most.

Hannah in her studio. Photo credit: @hannahnoblestudio

Where do you draw inspiration from?

This is the hardest question for me, and probably the most asked. I’m still trying to understand it. What inspires me to paint is the feeling I get from it. It quietens the mind, allows for self reflection, and time goes really fast. It’s a form of expression and escapism, for sure. I think that’s why I sometimes find commissioned work difficult because I have to somewhat force it. My work isn’t inspired by physical things as such, more so how I’m feeling and what I’m experiencing at that time. Colour is huge for me too, and I find the psychology behind it very interesting. It’s always been the focal point within my work, which is why most of my work is so tonal and minimalist. It’s more about the process for me, as opposed to the outcome.

From conception to completion, walk us through your creative process. Do you have any rituals that help get the creative juices flowing? And how do you know when a piece is finally “done”?

If I’m painting for myself, I don’t plan the artworks, only the use of colour. The rest is intuitive. If I’m creating a commission, there is more of a process in which myself and the client work toward a loose brief. To keep the creativity juicy, I’ve learned that down-time is needed, and time to explore with no pressure of an outcome. I’m a real over-thinker and I do believe doing nothing is just as important as doing something. I enjoy solitude and reflection, and I think without the opportunity for that, the creative process would be a lot harder. But of course, things like music and movement are two of the best ways to stay joyful about your creative process. 2021 I was obsessed with productivity and learning so I would paint to podcasts, but this year I’m all about reconnecting with myself, I’ve ditched the podcasts and gone back to painting to music, or just my own thoughts. Whatever keeps you joyful and rested, do that, and the creativity will flow.

Photo credit: @hannahnoblestudio

You pour your heart and soul into your work. Be honest – is it ever hard saying goodbye to a piece after spending so much time on it? Do you have any favourite pieces?

Oh I do have favourites, yes. Always the ones which have a looser brief and a higher feeling of trust from the client. I definitely get more attached to those as that’s a part of me, as opposed to being a hand for somebody else’s design idea, which I try to deter away from these days.

Photo credit: @hannahnoblestudio

Let’s chat about your new studio space, which you’ve been sharing some behind the scenes of furnishing and styling on Instagram. How important is your physical space to your creative process?

Environment is huge to me, and it really does have an impact on the state of mind and quality of work. I started whilst we were in a lockdown, and I spent around 6 months painting huge pieces from my tiny studio flat. I was so limited, it was chaotic, and I felt that way too. My emotions were all over the place and it was a tough year for various reasons, but I was determined nonetheless. I then moved into what was essentially a very small cold concrete shed on an industrial estate, and stayed there for around 6 months. The studio space I have now is such a step up in comparison. It’s so important to be able to separate home and work, things are calmer now, and I quite like that I’m able to make a mess and just walk away from it. I do have plans to furnish it and make it a lot nicer than it currently is, in good time. I also share it with another creative which is both inspiring and helpful to be around.

Photo credit: @hannahnoblestudio

Starting a creative business can be unpredictable, terrifying, and rewarding all at the same time, even more so during the unprecedented events of the last two years. What are some lessons you’ve learned and can share with aspiring creative entrepreneurs?

I think the biggest piece of advice I would give, is not to lose your authenticity in striving for perfection, or validation. It is so easy to lose yourself in a sea of opinions. It’s actually really hard, but try to stay true to you and continuously reflect and question.

Also, don’t forget to have fun, despite the fact that you won’t really be able to ever switch off, make sure you do set time aside for yourself and give it the best you’ve got. I’ve just had one of the most serious years of my life trying to stay above water as a creative starting a small business during a pandemic. Now that I can breathe a bit more, my priority is joy, and working on coming back to myself.

I’d also say, in an online world obsessed with numbers, don’t forget about those who already believe in you, have already invested in you, or want to.

Being your authentic self and having honest communication with your audience and clients is super important. If anything I’m overly communicative and take customer service seriously.

Build yourself an easy to manage cookie cutter process so things are organised and you don’t feel like you have more on than you actually do. Do less, but more consistently, you’ll avoid burn out that way.

Works from Hannah’s Studio Floor collection, repurposed from a canvas sheet used as a floor protector, in itself becoming a work of art. Photo credit: @hannahnoblestudio

Lastly, what can we expect from you this upcoming year? Any fun projects you’re working on?

I really hope I can bring some colour to a market who adore neutrals. It’s a heavy task, you guys are devoted. But, I’ve already ordered in some paints. On a personal level I’m feeling like I’m coming out of a darker period of my life, and I want to celebrate that with my work. Things are feeling lighter, more hopeful. Spring is the season of renewal, and it’s time for something different, that’s as much as I know so far.

I hope you enjoyed my chat with Hannah Noble! Explore Hannah’s work on her Instagram, @hannahnoblestudio, or get in touch directly at hello@hannahnoblestudio.com.

Artist Spotlight

May 20, 2022

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