A chat with … Hanna Pyenson (@gangofthegals)
Discover the little chat we’ve had with Hannah, a Boston based illustrator whose work is mainly focused on women’s bodies. On her instagram account, she shares playful and colorful illustrations that invite every girl/woman to practice more selflove.
When did you start illustration? Were you formally educated or are you self taught?
When I think back to my first memories of illustrating I recall my mom and my Yiayia (grandmother in Greek) having me do these silly, creative tasks to keep me preoccupied. From then I went to art camp and whenever I had the opportunity to take an art class in middle and high school I did! Every so often I was able to do a commission project and that really sparked my interest. I enjoyed working with people to incorporate my style and what they wanted in the final product. Other than that, you can always find me doodling or playing around with a new medium. I love experimenting with colors and textures so I guess my self-teaching is a lot of trial and error!
What are your influences/inspiration sources/favorite illustrators ?
My influences are definitely the women that I am surrounded with. Between my family, friends, ancestors, and women that I come in contact with, I am constantly impacted by their resilience and spirit. As for other illustrators, I love following @cloudy_thurstag, @allthenudes_, @kitagar, and @haleytippmann, they are incredible artists!
How would you define your style ?
I would define my style as free flowing, feminine, playful, and inviting.
Your work seems to be very focused on women’s bodies (hence the name Gang of the gals I suppose ), why ?
We oftentimes forget the beauty of what our bodies are capable of doing because it is masked by our self image, or perception of what a body should look like because of society. My work is focused on females bodies to show how remarkable they truly are.
WE get a strong feeling of sisterhood through some of your illustrations. was magnifying women one of your goals when creating your IG account @gangofthegals?
To be completely honest, I started my Instagram account because I wanted to produce more art and share it with others. After a while I began to notice the similarities in my work and it started to look like a sisterhood! I renamed my Instagram Gang of the Gals because I felt like my account was a small community of girls that can be also reflected among society and in my life. Women are my inspiration so looking back it’s funny that it wasn’t my original goal, it just kind of evolved that way.
‘My influences are definitely the women that I am surrounded with.’
‘I am excited to see where my art will take me. I look forward to creating more art and becoming inspired by my new surroundings.’
Which illustration are you currently the most proud of ?
I would say I am most proud of my “Continuously Finding Peace” illustration. Like many individuals, I struggle a lot with body image and confidence and as I was drawing one day I wrote it out of nowhere and I think it really reflects my journey with how I perceive myself. Over the last four years specifically I have realized that life is not linear, but if you continue to take time to look for the good in the world you will not be disappointed with your result.
Do you think your work is feminist in any way?
I definitely think my work is feminist. Throughout my entire life I have been surrounded by such strong women. Through my artwork I want to reflect the beauty of what females are capable of.
Interview by Jessica Ayinda