“I’ve always drawn, that’s a given, ever since I was little,” says Hattie Stewart, “no matter what I do or where I am, it always comes back to drawing.” We’re at her studio in Hackney Wick, London, a bright and inspiring space which she shares with one other artist. The shelves are crammed with books, magazines and sketchbooks and colourful illustrations decorate all four walls.
For her work, a distinctive style that’s imbued with a sense of fun and playful satire, Hattie uses a range of iconic characters, vivid patterns and bright colours to create illustrations that are instantly recognisable and uniquely hers. In particular, it’s her iconic doodle bombs that have taken the fashion and creative industries by storm.
A concept that started life as a simple drawing over a picture of Lily Allen (“I was working in a horrid bar in Brick Lane and was a bit bored”), her doodle bombs have since featured on the covers of publications such as Vogue, i-D and Love. “Hand-drawn magazine covers were dismissed in favour of photography years ago,” says Hattie. “I couldn’t see how I was going to segue into that world, so I was like ‘if I’m not going to be invited to the party, I’ll just gate-crash!’ which is exactly what I did. When I put my illustrations online, the covers seemed to hit on something,” she continues, “people who hated the magazines loved it and people who loved the magazines loved it, the satire and the humour played nicely between the two.”
After graduating from Kingston University in 2010, Playboy was the first magazine to publish a selection of Hattie’s early work. “It was mostly men’s magazines that gave me my first opportunities, something I’ve always been intrigued by,” she explains. “Front gave me my first official cover to draw on, and then I did an interview with GQ’s Dylan Jones. I mean, a female illustrator being represented in these magazines without having to take my clothes off, or talk about my sex life, that’s pretty great, right?”
As a millennial who grew up without the constant pressure of social media, we discuss the implications of working as an artist in a digital age. “It’s a double-edged sword,” she says. “In certain respects, it forces you to think long term, about things that will last and are important to you, to create something that cuts through the noise. For me, social media has been so influential,” she continues, “it has enabled me to connect with other artists worldwide and provided a sense of community, it’s also introduced people to my work who ordinarily might not have seen it, and in that way it’s provided me with an incredible platform. But then, if you’re not in the best frame of mind and you’re just seeing all this content, all this stuff, it can be hard to switch off.”
Hattie speaks passionately about her creative process, one which stays true to her love of drawing and traditional methods of illustration. “My work is still all by hand,” she says, “with hand drawings I feel like there’s a kind of closeness, more of a connection. Whenever I’ve done things directly on the computer, I’ve lost that attachment. It sounds stupid,” she continues, “but I guess whenever you try and explain something that’s an instinct, it sounds moronic!”
For her collaboration with Hunter Original, Hattie explains how she drew inspiration from her love of festivals and the desire to capture the spirit of festival season for the campaign. “The photographer’s work was so expressive and playful, a perfect match to my style of illustration,” she explains, “Glastonbury has the mud and rain, Coachella has sunshine, for me it was very much about incorporating all the different festival experiences and bringing it all together.”
Glastonbury, Benicàssim, End of the Road
Most memorable festival experience?
At Glastonbury 2010, my friend Lucy and I had been separated from the rest of the group, but we just had the best time ever. Spinal Tap, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Dolly Parton and Bruce Springsteen were all headlining and we were right at the front – the dream.
If you could doodle bomb any festival headliner, who would it be?
BEYONCE! I just love her.