Robert Samuel Hanson is an illustrator from UK. His portfolio is filled with excellent work from ( among the others) Monocle, The Economist, The New York Times, Analogue Books, Fiat UK, Readymade Magazine, Shots Magazine, The Times andTiny Showcase. His style is clean and simple, nice use of humour ( don’t miss the ABC series) and smart vector graphics. We have asked Rober to tell more about his experiences, influences and future projects.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left school but went to university in Glasgow anyway where I did a normal degree, mainly in art history. After that I still had no big plan and moved abroad to work as an English teacher. I lived in Japan and France for about three years. Japan was a big influence and made me really want to have a creative career of some value. I came home and studied at art school in Leeds and initially tried to get a job in advertising. I wasn’t that great but it taught me a lot about working creatively. It just wasn’t for me. I was always drawing and made some zines which helped me to get picked up by my agency and gradually started getting more work.
We moved to Berlin about two years ago and pretty much since then I’ve been full time as a freelance illustrator. it’s not always been easy getting enough work to live off but I feel comfortable with it being my only job now.
My work has really developed as I’ve been working. Art school was great but I didn’t study illustration and I feel as though I’ve been learning a lot as I’ve gone on, there are a few embarrassing bits of work floating around but hopefully the quality control is a little higher now. I’ve worked hard over the last couple of years to develop not just in terms of style but in how I work and how I think about work.
There have been a few jobs which have been really significant for me. Being commissioned by Monocle has been amazing. They are great to work with, I feel they really trust you to do a good job so there’s no heavy art direction and I have to say the exposure form being in the magazine has been a pretty big help as well. Getting a New York Times magazine commission was a pretty big thing for me as well as it was high up my list of dream clients.
Influence wise there are a few unsurprising names like Saul Steinberg or Alan Fletcher, who were a big influence, especially early on. I also really like the signage work of people like Lance Wyman and Margaret Calvert for the British road signs, probably a big influence that I didn’t really think about for a long time. Also artists like Fischli and Weiss and Roman Signer, not so specific to my own work but more in terms of their approach and humour.
In the coming year I really want to get back to producing more personal work, or more accurately finishing and printing it. Too many projects never escape the hard drive. I really enjoy screen printing but haven’t done much this year so I think that’s a good work goal for 2010 : more printing.