Interview: Hana Stupica

Photo credit: Uroš Abram for Mladina magazine

Name: Hana Stupica

Where do you live: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Known for:
Illustrating animals in historical costumes, loving (art)history, being one of the few fans of winter, sometimes talking too much, knowing too many weird or unnecessary facts about something.

Currently working as:
Illustrator and sometimes a designer for Slovenian publishing house Mladinska knjiga.

When did you realize that you were going to work with this/in this area?
I was born into a family of artists so it had quickly become clear that I also want to draw. I drew everywhere: in school notebooks, on napkins, walls, tables… But I didn’t want to become an illustrator because I knew how difficult it is to be one. I don’t see myself as an artist and for me illustration is a craft.

If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why?
I really liked New York. I’ve been there twice and although I don’t know if I would live there for all my life I would like to try. I don’t know what attracts me there but I really felt good being there. I also like Scandinavia. It is hard to decide for just one place because all have their charms and it is easier to tell where I don’t want to live!

How would you describe your creativity?
I imagine things quickly. I hear or read something and the image pops out in my head. I’m not a fan of sketches, generally the first one is the right one.

How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner?
I began to illustrate for children’s magazines probably in the last year of the Academy. I already knew editors at the publishing house because my mother and grandmother were working for them. They saw my work and I got the commission to do whatever I want. So I created a comic for very young children about rabbit Lucijan and his friends.

What do you do at the moment?  
I’m currently finishing my degree which I’m delaying for too long. Additionally I’m working on the selection of illustrations for the exhibition and thinking about my new picture book.

A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business?
Sometimes I’m asking myself why I threw myself into creative business. But it is difficult to give any other recommendation as to throw yourself into it! Never be satisfied with what you achieved and aim higher! Every following piece of your work should be better in some way.

Tell us how it all started.
I guess because I was surrounded by art from the young age that was it. My parents have always supported my imagination. I had a ton of books, I was reading like crazy. Because I was an only child, I have created my own world with animals and some other creatures as my friends. I had a rabbit and I invented stories about her and illustrated them.

What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you?
Good lights, good chair, good vibe! And a window with natural light although I work a lot at night. I like clean and empty space but cabinet of curiosities also has its charm with books and all the stuff.

What is your favorite film? 
Uh, this is a hard one. I don’t have a favourite movie. Movies that made an impact on me in the last three years were The Hunt with Mads Mikkelsen and visually Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel from Wes Anderson.

Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why? 
My friends of course but if I could invite any interesting person to me in the world… That would be a really great long-lasting dinner!

How do you like to spoil yourself?
Easy, I treat myself with something – whether this is a trip or some other thing. Sometimes good ice cream is enough.

What is luxury for you?
Not to be under stress all the time.

What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom?
Every compliment is great! It is difficult to say which compliment was the nicest. Sometimes I feel embarrassed because of so many nice compliments about my work because my work is just something I do. But I love that adults like my illustrations. I really want to bring children’s illustration closer to adults.

What do you fear most? 
From the creative and work view – to fail at something. Generally in life I guess I’m afraid of loneliness. And this comes hand in hand with losing the people I love. Oh and snails, I really don’t like snails!

What is a happy life to you?
Currently this is not the right question for me because I don’t know what a happy life is for me. I can say that I’m doing what I love – creating something. But this is not enough and so many other things I would like to try.

What does a regular day look like for you?
My days really vary, sometimes I can do a lot and sometimes unfortunately nothing or not enough and I was all day looking at the computer screen or paper for nothing. It seems to me that in the summer heat I’m awfully slow. Working quarantine helps when I don’t go out of the house a couple of days. I’m quite nocturnal, I like the night with its quietness. I must admit however that early mornings are nice but for me it is so easy to switch back to staying up late at night.

Tell us about your dream project.
There is none! I want to try and learn different things from different creative fields. From childhood I’m interested in puppets, I enjoy beautifully made books, mobile games… I’m again and again impressed by what foreign markets offer – from books to… New opportunities!

Who is your professional role model/inspiration?
My mother Marija Lucija Stupica and my grandmother Marlenka Stupica, both illustrators. I grew up with their illustrations. From the younger Slovenian generation of artists I really enjoy works from Peter Škerl and Damijan Stepančič. Foreign authors that I like are Lisbeth Zwerger, Binette Schroeder, Gennady Spirin, Maurice Sendak etc.

How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)?
I’m not a fan of colors at my work or on me. At illustrating I use as little colors as possible because I do not want it to be supersaturated – usually three main colors and then white and some sepia. Sometimes I only use 2 main colors and white. I don’t like yellow so I use ochre and sometimes Naples yellow for highlights. I enjoy researching and drawing historical costumes and dressing up animals on paper.

Which is the one thing you can’t live without? 
Some would say my iPhone! I think my family and friends is the usual answer.

What inspires you?
I draw inspiration from my life, environment, books, animals, history, traveling, browsing the internet etc.

A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life?
This is tough to decide. Every book you read makes some kind of impression on you and in every stage of life these are different types of books. A good picture book can make an impression on a child or an adult. You can read the same book in different stages of life and each time you can discover something new or understand it completely different.

Connect with Hana via Facebook
Follow her on Instagram @hanastupica
Check out her work at Behance & Society6 & Redbubble

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