I'm not much of an artist, though I've always dabbled in sketching, painting... that kind of thing. Textile arts have always been much more up my street, yet I look forward to the day (in the very distant future) when I'll have the time to take up another artistic hobby. An artist I've kept my eye on for the past few years is Zena Hamon - we studied art together about a decade ago and I've always known that she'd stick with it, and indeed she has. Now working as a freelance print designers and illustrator, I recently got the chance to speak with Zena about her work.
Tell us more about the nature of your work – what mediums do you usually work with?
My work always starts with visual research, images that inspire me. I then sketch out loose ideas from my mind before I begin playing with different mediums to get the effect I’m after. My go-to mediums are usually pen and inks, but most work usually gets manipulated in design programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator – it depends on the final piece or collection.
What made you decide to specialise in printed textile and fashion?
I’ve always loved drawing and like to interpret mood and colour - this is easily translated onto fabric. My favourite part of any fashion collection is the story and concept, you become involved in a completely different world. You’re able to wear, use and admire the design or artwork in a much more interactive way.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to develop themselves as a designer or illustrator?
Never stop looking, absorbing and creating. Exhibitions are a really good way of refining a body of work and putting it out into the world. Don’t be afraid to put your work out there for people to see and critique. It’s really important to hear what people say and think about your work, to help you to progress and improve. I think it’s also good to find a set of images that sparks passion, so that you can go back to them each time, especially for those unmotivated patches that happens to all of us along the way!
You've had several exhibitions of your work in recent years – which past exhibition did you enjoy the most, and do you have any upcoming exhibitions this year?
I’ve enjoyed all of them for different reasons. My first ever exhibition was a huge learning curve, feeling the sense of accomplishment for getting it all together and putting it out there for everyone to see. I am also going to be exhibiting in a beautiful plant shop in London this year - details will be on my website soon!
Which artists, be they textile specialists or otherwise, do you feel inspired by?
I’m constantly inspired by the artist/maker/designer community on Instagram. There is a huge ‘makers movement’ right now, people sharing their creative vision from all over the world. It’s such a great way to connect with talented individuals, which also motivates you to keep going to do your thing. I also love and will always love Tove Jansson, Egon Schiele and Cy Twombly. Japanese Ukiyo-e nature art is my example of motivational inspiration, its so simple and serene. Music also inspires me every time I sit at my desk to work, falling into a world of visual rhythm.
Tell us about your current stockists – what are your prints currently being used for and where can we find them?
I have sold textile designs to different fashion companies when I used to freelance with a sample company, there I sold to Anthropologie which was amazing news. I stock a local shop called Number Eleven with framed artwork and also recently set up an etsy store which has silk scarves and cards for worldwide shipping.
You say that your work is inspired by adventures – where have you travelled to that inspires you the most, be it country, city or specific place?
Adventures in nature constantly inspire me, it’s a good opportunity to release frantic energy. Even if it is a short walk along the beach to see the waves, I’ll go in any weather! I recently travelled to Vancouver Island in Canada which has so much un-spoilt nature. I went hiking in this beautiful forest with huge ancient trees and it was just so pure, absorbing and wild. There’s something about both stillness and energy in those places that I like to re-create in my work.
Random question – if you could print a piece of fabric to describe your life, what would it look like? What colours, patterns, and what fabric would it be printed on?
I’m really influenced by the idea of escapism and so I would probably create a piece of fabric with a huge moon on it, with lots of blue (all of the blues are my favourite colours) I’m currently living on an island, so the blue would definitely symbolise the ocean surrounding me!
To find out more about Zena and her work, check out her website and don't forget to have a look at her etsy store - the cards are perfect for birthdays!