From the archive: Hannah-Michelle Bayley (2018)

We're going through our archive and posting some old interviews for you to have a read of! This is an interview with illustrator Hannah-Michelle Bayley from 2018.

Tell us a bit about yourself…

Hi! My name is Hannah-Michelle Bayley and I’m a freelance illustrator and maker. I am a virgo with a moon in scorpio and can usually be found hanging out with my dog Minnie (she is a sausage dog and a Gemini). I run an Etsy that focuses on making wearable art affordable, creating handmade brooches has become a part of my daily ritual!

Favourite Instagram accounts?

I LOVE illustrators on instagram. My favourites are @salomepapa, @tomdrawsdogs, @kayeblegvad and @louisereimer. Something I love to do is to go through an illustrators feed and see how their work has developed over time and which posts make them so popular. I find it a pretty great practice to do when trying to work out how to post on my own account!

Favourite artists?

Hands down David Hockney. He has consistently produced a mass volume of work over his career that is so varied in style, whilst keeping his signature aesthetic. I would really recommend anyone to take a trip to the Salts Mill gallery and spend a day soaking up his repertoire! I also really love Grayson Perry, he manages to make stylised work that is political in nature without alienating audiences – which I think is pretty rare. I once took my dad to one of his shows, and he hadn’t been to an art show in his life (he loved it).

What inspires your work?

I’m really inspired by popular culture and cult movies. The Heathers movie (1988) is pretty much my aesthetic and mind-set rolled into one. I also find if I’m lacking in inspiration a trip to my local charity shops always leaves me feeling inspired to do some drawing. I love to find vintage ceramics!

What materials do you use?

I am really into using a wide range of materials when making brooches– polymer clay, resin, shrink plastic, screen-printing. With regard to my illustrations, I am quite analogue in my materials. I love ink, watercolour and gouache paint. Nothing gets me more excited than a fresh tube of gouache!

How did you get into illustration?

I specialised in illustration on my university course at Goldsmiths after doing a foundation-style 1st year where I got to try different specialisations. Most of my peers gravitated towards film and TV, but the illustration room seemed so tranquil and quiet. It was this small white room with only a few students and some really fantastic tutors. That room became my home for the rest of my course and I was allowed to find my own style through set briefs and weekly workshops. From that warm, cosy room my love for illustration and image making blossomed!

You have an online shop. What made you decide to set it up and do you have any advice to anyone who is thinking of selling work?

I left university and spiralled into a well of panic – I live with my parents in a pretty rural part of the North where there isn’t a tonne of creative career opportunities. Although I was manically applying (and failing) for jobs I felt like I wasn’t satisfying that part of me that wanted to jump into a creative career straight out of university. I began making things and posting them on Etsy, mostly so I felt like I was actually doing something creatively productive on a daily basis. It has really helped me not only to develop my practice, but also to connect with people online. I have actually sold items to people who I ended up talking with and now consider my friends - which is totally fab. My advice to anyone thinking of selling work is to concentrate on the art/products first and pair that with consistency on social media. I haven’t quite cracked it yet, I started right after Instagram decided to mess with the algorithm but it’s not really about numbers. It’s about finding an audience, no matter how small who connect with what you do. So make sure to reply to comments and messages!

Any plans for the future?

I want to continue growing my Etsy – specifically through ceramics. I’m signing up for ceramic classes over the next few months because I’d love to paint my illustrations on vases, plates and the like. I’m coercing my boyfriend to sign up with me; it’s going to be just like Ghost, except hopefully no one will be a ghost.

Best piece of advice you could give to someone about expressing their creativity?

If you feel like you’ve made the ugliest piece of art/illustration/thing humanly possible and you are certain you never want to make anything ever again, take a breather and don’t beat yourself up. Every single thing you create, whether you hate it or not is a step closer to the next amazing thing you make. Don’t be hard on yourself, I can guarantee that you see your work in a completely different light to everyone else.

Hannah-Michelle is still making some really lovely things and you can find them on her website and her Instagram.


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