An Interview with artist Hannah Campbell Adamson (nee de Haan)
The next interview is with the incredibly talented fine artist Hannah Campbell Adamson (nee de Haan) who has been set the exciting task of bring Rollo Dog to life. Read below to hear all about a day in the life of Hannah, what makes Rollo so special and the collaboration with Rollo London.
Hannah Campbell Adamson’s day in the life at Hannah de Haan Fine Art
What I love about my lifestyle is that I am completely flexible, there is not really a ‘typical day’ so to speak. However, I usually rise early, I am pretty active so like to exercise daily if I have time and either walk to my studio (only takes 20 mins) or work from home should I choose! I am lucky to have the option of two well-lit places where I can draw.
I get asked a lot about whether I ‘draw all day every day’. The answer is certainly not, but it is what I am most passionate about so am happiest with a pencil in my hand and a beautiful dog or horse to bring to life!
I also run an online shop with various products, from paintings and prints to china, tea towels and cards. I am usually working on some projects aside from my commissions, and perhaps an exhibition or show to work towards, as well as being a photographer I have photographed events such as Weddings, birthday parties, Christening and Corporate shots from Kensington and Mayfair to Scotland!
I also spend a lot of time carrying out laptop related jobs, whether accounts, marketing, photography, emails etc. Being a solopreneur forces you to turn your hand to all aspects of running a small business. This is a great diverse learning curve, you have to do everything, there is nobody to fall back on or pass jobs onto!
I like to work from café’s sometimes or even take a few days at my family home in Shropshire where I grew up, being a country girl at heart I need to detox from city life occasionally, I try to go back every 3 weeks or so. I travel a lot to photograph the clients, which is great as means I get to explore parts of the country I have not been to before.
The freedom of my work/life is so wonderful, but I sometimes need to remember that it is important to take time off too. This is the problem with loving your work and it being your life rather than a job, sometimes it’s hard to switch off.
When did you first realise you wanted to become a professional artist?
The first spark that ignited the path to becoming an artist was a portrait I drew of a beautiful glossy black lab from Scotland. A birthday present for my husband (then boyfriend) when we were at Newcastle University. It was the first time I had picked up a pencil since leaving school. The feedback I received after drawing ‘Clova’ from all of my friends was what spurred me on to starting my business. After graduating (with a Bachelor of Science not Arts!!) I spent time in Kenya after being invited to stay out there for a couple of months giving me time to really think about whether or not to ‘give it a go’. However, by the time I flew home my mind was made up and on returning home I built my website and moved to London… I haven’t looked back since, with a continuous demand for my portraits, my main issue is not having the time to carry out my own work. So it isn’t really anything to complain about as I get to meet the most amazing people and animals. The sense of reward on delivery of every portrait is as heart-warming now as it was 4 years ago!
I had no idea that lab portrait would lead to me becoming a professional artist, or that boyfriend becoming my husband.. I am very grateful that it did as I really wouldn’t want to do anything else now. The portrait is hung in pride of place in our house. I still have to pinch myself to see how far I’ve come, having not really known London or how to run a business, or be an self-employed artist was pretty daunting but for some reason I wasn’t scared, it felt right and the commission wait-list is evidence enough I must be doing something right!
What was the first drawing you ever did?
The first drawing – was Clova.
But I have been sketching and painting all of my life so I can’t remember the first drawing. I’m sure it was of an animal though… slightly obsessed!
I have recently unearthed a couple of very early dog drawings I carried out aged about 8 or so of our then Labrador. Luckily I’ve improved a bit since then.
What paint / medium to you prefer working with?
As Clova was a graphite pencil portrait, my commissions have stemmed from that and so pencil complements my style the best, as enables me to capture the detail and therefore character which my clients love most. However I do like to use watercolor in contrast for the loose and quick medium where you have less control and the marks the medium makes is what creates the character of each piece.
Have you always painted animals? What else do you paint?
I grew up in rural South Shropshire on a farm, surrounded by farm animals and our own animals. Therefore the countryside and those that dwell in it have always been my predominant inspiration. I have painted landscapes and seascapes, but even then I would be trying to incorporate something four legged in their somehow!
Do you have a favourite style of painting?
My commissions are very traditional and in a realism style. I love becoming ingrained in a portrait, I love creating the wet nose, the tangled coat, or the glossy bright eye of the animals I capture. But some days I do think it would be nice to be able to slap paint on a canvas in a couple of hours, my style is rather time consuming!
What would your dream commission be?
I love all my commissions, as believe it or not there is such variety from one dog or horse to the next, and I get such a thrill by the challenge to capture what I see with pencil. Ironically my dream commission would be my own animals as I haven’t had the time to draw them, although my horse is an appaloosa so will be quite tricky, but he has the most beautiful coat and the best personality. We have a fabulous yellow lab called Otis, who is the most handsome dog, he’s huge, like a lion and thinks he’s a human, he’s actually the neediest human I know.
How do you find being a female entrepreneur?
I’m proud to be an entrepreneur. As an artist living in London as an entrepreneur from the word go having had no experience I dived straight into the deep end and just went for it, learning as I go.
I have been lucky enough to be immersed in two incredible studio complexes that are full of diverse artists and entrepreneurs, there is the widest range of ages, nationalities, backgrounds, all with the same aim - creating, it’s a fabulous world to be involved in.
What item could you not live without daily?
Radio/ audiobook – I love listening to audio books. Especially when I have deadlines looming. I actually have a bit of an unhealthy obsession to Harry Potter - Stephen Fry’s just so great, they help me relax and get into the zone. Although I know I should probably learn a language or listen to more sophisticated books.
Secondly, my A5 Rollo London notebook. I love to plan, and write my to-do lists. I jot down ideas, and plans I get throughout the day. There is something that a notebook and pen can achieve that technology can never replace. The simplicity and reliability, I don’t think I’d be half as organised or efficient without my notebook!
What is it about the Rollo London brand you most like?
Rollo dog obviously! The beautiful little logo/emblem. He has such elegance and poise, reflecting the style of the product. Luxurious but affordable luxury, who doesn’t love a new notebook.
You have a Rollo London notebook - what do you use this for? List any favourite features you like about the book
My Rollo notebook is currently my project planner. I use it for ideas and developing these ideas into plans and actual projects. My favourite feature is the Rollo dog, but also the texture, and size, it isn’t too bulky but has space to write without feeling cramped. It gives my ideas room to breathe and develop!
You are currently collaborating with Rollo London - are you able to give us a sneaky insight into what this project is about.
I am very excited about this collaboration, because it evolved so naturally from two like-minded entrepreneurs who have a passion to create. It is so exhilarating to work alongside similar business owners and work on new ideas.
Rollo Dog is a wonderful project to create and build the brand of Rollo’s logo the Grey hound. It is a fantastic project as there are so many ideas bouncing around, the hardest part is which one to do first. The product is already a success so it is quite easy for me really, Rollo is a sophisticated and elegant dog, with finess, my aim is to reflect the quality of the product in the sketches but also to create the character and life of Rollo, so that there is a story behind the brand, something to relate to for the clients to become part of too. The life of Rollo, and to join him on his journey!
It’s early days but as you can tell I’m quite excited about it!
Rollo London Website:
Hannah de Haan Website:
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