Handmade: Meet Annie Hamilton, Artist & Musician
Annie Hamilton is one of those women who forces you to believe that life is just hopelessly unfair; as a talented visual artist and lead guitarist of indie folk band, Little May, Annie is nothing short of an intimidating creative force.
As an artist, Annie has an astonishing ability to present audiences with the stunning and sophisticated detail of Australian flora and fauna. I spoke with Annie about her artistic practices, the balancing act of a creative lifestyle and how she manages her time out from life on the road.
As both a talented musician and artist, how do you negotiate your time? Do you find it tricky to balance all of your creative pursuits?
It can definitely be tricky finding the time to do everything I want to do, but it’s doable if I’m really disciplined and manage my time well. At the moment my band, Little May, is having a break from touring so we can focus on writing, so it’s quite nice to be at home for a while after travelling so much over the last few years.
I’ve always done a lot of drawing while on tour, as we spend so many hours sitting in vans / planes / airports / venues. It’s a really therapeutic way to pass the time. It’s only been in the last few months at home that I’ve actually gotten around to scanning in all of my drawings, organising prints and manipulating them in Photoshop to print onto textiles. I end up working 7 days a week on music and art, but I love doing it all and want to keep improving and creating better things, so it’s totally worth the lack of sleep.
You seem to have quite the knack for intricate drawings of Australian flora and fauna, why are you particularly attracted to that subject matter?
I’ve always loved native flora and fauna. I grew up down the road from a national park, so I spent a lot of time in the bush as a kid; going on bushwalks, catching tadpoles, looking for fairies… The Australian bush is so beautiful but also quite eerie – I love being alone in the bush and feeling like it’s all very alive around you.
I’m interested in the way things are constantly evolving, growing and changing; teeny tiny movements that go unnoticed by humans because we’re too distracted by everything else. I’ve always been drawn to microscopic details and textures – last year I was obsessed with drawing algae cells (they still float around in my drawings sometimes). I think it’s important for us to appreciate our native plants; they’re much more sustainable to grow and way better for our local ecosystem than introduced species.
I notice you’re branching out into textiles and wearable pieces such as enamel pins, is this something that you plan to dedicate more time to in the future?
Yes, I love making wearable stuff! When I was at uni (I studied textile/graphic/jewelry design a few years ago) I experimented a lot with screen printing and digital fabric printing, but I ended up dropping out to focus on the band. Now that we’ve had a bit of a break from touring I’ve been able to try digital printing again, which is really exciting.
I’m currently working on a small range of silk clothing and scarves, featuring digital prints of my illustrations. Everything is going to be printed and made in Sydney, so hopefully I’ll get it together by the end of this year. I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing, but I’m just going to give it a go and hope that it doesn’t fail miserably hahaha.
What is your artistic process like? Do you often explore nature for inspiration?
I love drawing plants and insects and things from life so I’m constantly collecting little twigs, branches, dead bugs and seedpods that I find. I recently spent 10 days in the NT on a little drawing holiday, which was incredible. I did a lot of walking through the Larapinta trail near Alice Springs and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, and saw some of the most incredible and rare desert plants, like a wattle shrub that was covered in spikes and had huge pompom flowers.
Uluru and Kata Tjuta are some of the most magical places I’ve ever been – so grand and ancient and special. The colours there are incredible; I collected little rubbings of the soil in my notebook so I could record the colours, which have definitely inspired my textile prints. I do most of my drawing late at night, sitting in bed, listening to music.
What are your favourite mediums to work with?
At the moment, everything I’m doing is pen and gouache on paper. The last few years I’ve done mostly black and white fineliner illustrations, but lately I’ve been forcing myself to branch out a bit and start incorporating more colour into my work. Most of the time now, I draw outlines in fineliner, then fill in the colour using gouche, then draw details and dots on top in fineliner. A lot of the time I then chuck it in Photoshop and alter the colours and backgrounds there. I also love printing onto silk – it’s so light and soft and luxurious, and you can get such vibrant colours.
Which visual artists particularly inspire you? Who are your all-time favourites?
Aaah there are so many… I’m a huge Lucas Grogan fan, his latest quilt is seriously mind-blowing… Miso, Brett Whiteley, Del Kathryn Barton… I love the starkness and use of colour in Sidney Nolan’s paintings. I also love Frida Kahlo – I visited her home while travelling in Mexico City last year and it was magical. Oh and I bought the most beautiful painting in Alice Springs by Margaret Boko.
Do you have any plans for upcoming exhibitions/projects that you’d like to share with us?
No exhibitions in the works, although I would love to organise a group exhibition with a few of my friends who make awesome art for sometime next year At the moment I’m just focusing on writing new music with Liz & Han and trying to get my little clothing line happening on the side.
Where can we find your artwork online?
I have some prints and things for sale at anniehamilton.bigcartel.com and some printed textiles at theclubofoddvolumes.com, plus I post a lot of my illustrations / work-in-progress pics / inspiration on my Instagram