Published June 24, 2018
Interview: Melody Hansen
When did you start creating? Were your friends and family initially supportive of your art?
I liked doing crafts when I was younger and when I was about 11 or 12, my dad got me Photoshop so I started making graphics, mostly for Neopets. I didn’t really share those to my parents or friends until later. But when they found out that was something I liked doing, they were always pretty positive about it.
Most of your work seems to be centred around feelings and self-care. How does your art impact your own mental health?
It’s a form of expression that brings me healing. When I put something on paper or canvas, it’s like letting go of that feeling or thought. There’s something very freeing in the process.
Do you often see your work used by people or companies without your permission? How do you approach the issue of online plagiarism?
All the time. It’s a super tough subject to approach, especially these days. Because the internet has become a place to freely share and a place for artists to actually show off their work to anyone in the world, the access we now have to images and content is overwhelming. And because technology evolves so quickly, I don’t think we’ve taken the time yet to really understand how that accessibility is affecting our perception and use of art. With blogs and platforms like Tumblr and Pinterest, the lines have become blurry and the conversation of what is okay to share, how it’s shared, and how copyright fits into all that has gotten a bit lost in the process. But I want to talk about it. I want to talk about this “free exposure” internet world we’ve created. I want to talk about credit and how that’s not enough sometimes. How brands have built their image on other artists’ works without working with them. I want this to be more regulated, in the same way music is with videos. I want there to be a shift in the way artwork is shared.
You have a very iconic style to your art. Without seeing a source or credit, I can still identify your work as distinctly Melody Hansen. How has your style evolved to become what it is now?
Honestly, a big part of it was accepting that it wasn’t going to look like someone else’s. I compared myself so much to other artists, to work that I wasn’t good at; I would try to do something that just didn’t work for me. I’m bad at proportions and I can’t sit still for hours. I had to accept that. And when I did, I started to embrace what I *could* do. I started to embrace what I thought were imperfections. Now those imperfections are a part of my style.
You have a large following on social media. How has this worked to your advantage (or disadvantage) in getting work and relating to your audience?
Most clients have approached me because they found me somewhere online. So that’s been really cool to see. Having my work online can be a little frustrating at times, because it feels like my potential is limited to what I’ve previously done. Sometimes I’ll feel this pressure to create in the same style all the time to please people, but that’s not what being an artist is about. I have to remind myself that no matter the number of people watching me, I have to create what I feel and what I see in my mind. Whether people will relate or not.
If you had to give one piece of advice to your former self, before your success, what would it be?
Talk to other artists about money. Educate yourself about business and money, and know that what you’re creating is valuable.