A year ago, today, I graduated from arts school with a Bachelor of Arts and remember feeling lost and terrified because I wasn’t sure where to go next. In the midst of stress and panic, I decided that my next step should be to get into teaching, as it would be more a ‘practical’ and ‘stable’ path as many people would say. However, barely 6 months into studying teaching, I felt even more lost than I did than before.
I decided to interview local Melbourne illustrator and artist, Hannah Johnson, to get a personal insight into her career and how she got where she is today. I came across Hannah during one of her watercolour classes and lucky enough, had the opportunity to catch up with her over tea and cupcakes chatting about all things art.
Meet Hannah Johnson: illustrator, creative teacher, avid cupcake lover and the creative genius behind Twinewood Studio.
Hannah has been drawing and painting since the tender age of 7, showcasing a talent beyond her years that even her teachers believed that it was her mother that was doing her artwork. This led her to further her studies in Arts at University, as well as, English Literature back home in England.
Have you tried anything else aside from Arts?
Hannah: I went into teaching after doing Arts when I thought that the Arts wouldn’t be a valid career. I enjoyed being in a classroom and I was really good at it, but I just felt like it wasn’t true to me because I wasn’t drawing or creating anything.
What do you think about our society’s approach and attitude towards the Arts?
Hannah: I think Melbourne is very accepting of artists and creatives from lots of different backgrounds. Compared to London, where creatives have to compete with others all over Europe and I feel can feel pressured into creating work that is ‘on trend’ in order to keep up with others, Melbourne is a diverse place with lots of different types of creatives and each art form appears to be valued equally which allows us arty folk to follow whatever inspires us and create work that is genuine and authentic, rather than feeling the need to keep up or compete with others.
Ever since moving to Melbourne, Hannah knew that she needed to understand and know the city more. She was able to connect to the community immediately through the connections made at Laneway Learning whenever she is given the opportunity to teach.
Why did you decide to start teaching at Laneway Learning?
Hannah: I love teaching, and working with Laneway Learning is a really good outlet for me to have the balance that I’ve always wanted with creating as well as connecting with others through teaching. Laneway Learning is very flexible with ideas and I love that I can come to them with a new idea every time. Teaching adults is a bit more chilled as well and there is less crowd control in comparison to being in a school.
As a fresh graduate from Art School entering into the industry, having the support from family and friends to pursue a career in the Arts can make a huge difference. It’s not a journey to be taken alone and I was curious to see how it was like for Hannah.
Was your family always supportive of your decision to pursue the Arts?
Hannah: My mum has always been incredibly supportive. She got me into private lessons as soon as I was old enough, drove me all around the county for art competitions, and worked really hard so I could pursue my passion. She is still my number one fan!
What advice would you give to your 21-year-old self going into the real world?
Hannah: Have more confidence in your own path. While advice from others is often invaluable, what works for someone else may not work for you so you have to trust your instincts and do what you enjoy and feel most connected with. The beauty of creating is that it is personal; never lose sight of that.
I learned from Hannah that as much as we can complain about the lack of opportunities in the Arts sector, it is also up to us as creative individuals to take every opportunity we can take along the way no matter how big or small because everything is in the process. Hannah’s personal statement allowed me to see that without rain, there will definitely be no flowers. I remember growing up and loving Art because things just looked pretty, but over time, as I grow older, I fall more in love with the Arts because of the connections we make through it. Thank you, Hannah! Your drive as an artist is so empowering to female creatives like me.
Christine Alcorin is a Melbourne University student studying her Masters in Primary Education. She enjoys cooking and doodling, as well as, a good cup of coffee.
This article was written and produced as part of the CREATE Media Arts Internship Program.
Laneway Learning has partnered with The Mentorship to deliver this exciting new program to support young people aspiring to work within the creative media and arts sectors.