Interview with pop surreal artist Hanna Jaeun

Hanna Jaeun is a Brooklyn-based painter. She works with acrylics on wood panels, slowly layering and blending paint to build depth. Drawing inspiration from Catholic artifacts and religious paintings, children’s book illustrations, puppetry, and her love of animals, her work explores themes of isolation and alienation through the plight of animals, with most of whom she has crossed paths.
Hello dear Hanna, please, tell us how did you find the artist inside you? How long have you been doing art? Is art something that you always wanted to do?

I have always loved to draw ever since I can remember. It has always been part of me. I went to art school but studied design which I wasn’t too enthusiatic about. After graduating and quitting a full time job, I dabbled in different things and decided to concentrate on painting. It is something I wanted to do since I was a child. I started a little late in the game. I started to teach myself how to paint maybe 7 years ago.

What was / is your major influences? Other artists, books, movies, music or any other media....What inspires you to create your artworks?

I love dolls, puppets, children’s books, fairy tales, and religious art. Van Gogh was always an inspiration from an early age; he was my dad’s favorite artist, and I grew up hearing about his life and work. This drove my desire to become a painter when I was a kid.

How does "a normal day of artist" in your life look like?

I wake up, feed my cats, and paint. Sometimes I will take a break and run errands or hang out with a human being. But every waking moment I am at my easel painting into the night. I will work on computer work before I go to bed. I am more of a night person so I feel most creative and awake very late at night.

What’s your background? Are you self-taught artist or did you study art? Do you think an art education is important or imperitive for anybody wishing to be an artist? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages that you have encountered throughout your career with/without the formal training of the Art Academy?

I am a self-taught artist. I did go to art school but studied apparel design. I think it definitely helps to have an art education. I feel it would have been a little easier for me to get my foot in the door and would have saved me a lot of time if I had studied painting in school.

What fascinates you the most about surrealism / pop surrealism / contemporary art / lowbrow art? How would you describe your style? What themes do you pursue, what surrealism mean to you and what do you hope the viewer will take away from your art?

I love the humor of surrealism / pop surrealism / contemporary art / lowbrow art. I have a dark, dreamlike style but with a touch of cartoon style which I think takes the edge off the seriousness of the subject matter. I like to work with themes in the afterlife of humans and the beauty of the cycle of life and death of animals. Surrealism to me is a dreamlike state or subconscious. I hope that I can touch the viewer with these themes. They may not know it but hopefully they will feel a little tug at their hearts.

What do you love most about creating and being an artist? What does “being creative” mean to you?

I love that I am always challenging my mind and imagination. I am always seeing and feeling and being inspired by my surroundings and experiences, good or bad. That makes life interesting. Also, sometimes “being creative” means shutting myself out from the rest of the world like a mad scientist until I get my ideas onto canvas.
Can you describe your typical workflow when you’re working on your art? What are your tools of trade? What medium do you most often use and why?

I jot my down my ideas in chicken scratch sketches and then block out forms on canvas with paint. This helps me visualize the overall shape and layout of the painting.  I work with acrylics on wood panel. I like the quick drying time of acrylics and the smoothness of wood.
Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?

I would love to work with oils. I love the depth you can create with oils.

Tell us more about your workspace. What was the most funny or weird thing that happened to you in your studio? What is / was the most strange thing hidding in your studio?

My studio is in my apartment. This allows me to work all day and night without leaving my apartment. The funniest thing that happened in my studio was I bought a kitchen cart that I thought would be perfect as my side table for my paints and palette. After I painstakingly assembled it and sat down next to it, the tabletop was at my eye level. It was too tall to access my palette. I did not have a tall stool so I had to put my chair legs on  bed lifts for the time being. I would occasionally go flying off the chair when I scooted the chair back and sat back down because the legs would fall off the bed lifts.
What toughest challenges have you faced as an artist during your art career? What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far?

My toughest challenge I face, even now, is not being happy with the outcome my work. I want to give up but I have to pick myself up and try harder. The biggest lesson I learned was not too varnish my work in humid weather!
What’s the best and worst advice you ever received in your art career?

The best advice has been anything supportive when things were not working out. And the worst advice was to give up because I would never make it.

What do you dislike about the art world? What is the hardest thing on being an artist? Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

The hardest thing is, at least for me, is the solitary nature of an artist. It can be lonely if you have to lock yourself away for a couple of weeks when you are busy. I try to cheer myself up with music or listen to a funny movie.
Where do you see yourself in the future? Professionally, what’s your goal?

I hope that one day I can be successful as an artist. That way I don’t have to work freelance jobs on the side to pay the rent and bills. My goal is to keep getting better at what I do.
Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others? Maybe advice for beginning artists out there?

Keep trying and don‘t ever give up. You have to keep on pushing and challenging yourself.
Your favorite art or life quote is ...

"Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them. ”  A.A. Milne

What are you doing when you’re not creating? What (other) hobbies do you have?

I like to hang out with friends and travel when I can. But there is usually no time for other hobbies. I used to make dolls and puppets on the side but I don’t have the time for much unfortunately.

Do you have an online portfolio, blog or social medias where we can view your work?
Is there anything else you’d like to say? Is there any project you are working on right now or any ongoing event or exhibition you would like to share with our readers?

Yes, I was part of a Summer Reading Show that is up right now at Arch Enemy Arts. I have a few shows I am working on at the moment. I am excited to be part of a Guillermo Del Toro inspired show at Gallery 1988 in Los Angelos, CA, an Emoji Inspired show at Arch Enemy Arts in Philadelphia, PA, as well a Cryptology Show at Antler Gallery in Portland, OR.
Thank you dear Hanna, it was a honor to interview you, I wish you only the best for you and your art and already looking forward to see your new art works :)
By contributor Linda. June 2015. Find Oh, So Surreal on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google + or RSS.