Illustrators we love: Hannah Sunny Whaler

One of our recent featured artists, Bristol-based Hannah Sunny Whaler, is a signwriter as well as a beautiful illustrator. "My work has pretty much entirely been centred around my signwriting since graduating," says Hannah. "These two sides of my work are equally as important as each other; one informs the other."

We asked her to share her first commission, favourite piece and her most personal work so we could get to know her better.

Hannah's work in progress

Hannah's work in progress

Hannah's finished piece.

Hannah's finished piece.

“My first illustration commission was a piece I got asked to create after my final show at Art College, aged 17. The lady who commissioned me had seen my work there, and wanted something in a similar style (but on paper rather than on a collection of old wooden planks and doors like my piece in the final show!).”

“Every year, the third year Illustrators at Falmouth Art College produce a book called Illustrated Quotes an Sayings to showcase their about-to-be graduates. As well as producing a piece for inside the book, you can submit a cover design too, simply illustrating a single number – ours was number 9. I chose to hand paint it on a plank of wood in a circus style, and my design won. It was such an honour to have my image represent such a talented bunch of illustrators! I'm very proud of this.”

“My most personal piece is probably my most recent exhibition: “Searching for Words”, which was on display for a week at Line Gallery in Stroud. It consisted of four panels, upon which I sign painted with a uniform but freehand set lettering style. All of the wording was taken from an intensive period of remote brain writing exercises where I just wrote as I thought, going from brain to page, linking phrases with rhythm, rhyme and colour. This was accompanied by a big wall painting introducing the show. It was very experimental and hugely personal, and felt rather exposing, like I was letting people read my mind.”

See more of Hannah's work in issue 32, and her sketchbooks and signs at

Illustrators we love: Kate Rowland

Kate Rowland, jewellery maker and sketcher of all things pop culture, space, geology and dinosaur, featured in our current issue. We wanted to know more about her work and asked her our favourite illustrator questions:

What was your first commissioned piece? 
Which is the piece you're most proud of? and
What's your most personal drawing to date?

"My first commission was to illustrate a flyer for a retro games console night in Hackney Picturehouse. It was really fun, and I got paid in cinema tickets as well as actual money."

"I'm probably most proud of my 'space achievement' series. They were part of a university project, and remind me of all the hard work, as well as immense amounts of fun! I might make these into real patches soon..."

"All my work is very personal, but I painted this after a trip to Dungeness with my sister. We'd wanted to visit for ages (it's the UK's only desert!) and it was as amazing and inspirational as we'd hoped. This is the film maker Derek Jarman's iconic house."

See Kate's work in issue 32, and browse her jewellery on her Etsy shop.

Drawing on the Landscape: Meet Guest Illustrator Padhraic Mulholland

With his website listing his inspirations as “adventure, bikes, the outdoors and folk history”, Northern Irish illustrator Pádhraic Mulholland was destined to paint the pages of issue 31. Watch his time-lapse video below, as he breathes life into the magazine in under a minute, and read on for his influences and tips for wannabe explorers. 

Portrait by Ragnhild Jaatun.

Portrait by Ragnhild Jaatun.

Tell us about your style.
I like to draw quirky characters and lots of nature and landscape. I use a mix of painting, drawing and collage, something that  developed out of necessity. When I went  travelling to Norway I hadn’t quite found my style yet. Without my computer I had to work with what I had, which was acrylics from the local shop. I find traditional processes very relaxing and enjoyable. It’s nice having my computer to be able to fix things though! 

You studied in Falmouth. Did Cornwall  influence your work?
Definitely. I went not particularly interested in the outdoors, although I’d virtually grown up outside! I had lots of freedom growing up in Northern Ireland but didn’t realise how that differed to other people’s childhoods. I began to ride a bit more, and discovered an active community of swimmers and cyclists. 

Tell us about where you live now. 
I’m on the north-east coast of Northern Ireland. I’m seeing it with new eyes. It’s a landscape of glacial glens, upland bogs and lush green fields, leading down to the sea. It’s really special. In Norway, people are inspired by the landscape and that motivated me to start making things, just using what’s around me to the full. 

Who inspires you? 

My grandad is a massive inspiration. He was very active, and took our family to do things such as walking or bird watching. After he died, I realised the family didn’t do that as much anymore. He’s partly why I decided to have my own adventure after my first year of university. I had £100 and four days and I wanted to get as far into the Hebrides as I could. There was lots of rushing to catch  ferries and so many different things to see. I became hooked. 

How do you reconcile your love of the  outdoors with the necessity of sitting at  your desk and working? 
I do a pretend commute. Working from home, I’ve no commute so I always make sure I go out for a half an hour run or a cycle each day. And I try and use the weekend to switch off and go out into nature. Part of the reason I decided to be a freelance illustrator was to give myself the freedom to do that.

Any advice for aspiring adventurers?

Something I learned in Norway: never leave your house without a pair of gloves and a hat.