The Q&A: Hannah Drossman

By Peggy Roalf   Monday August 20, 2018

Q: Originally from New Jersey, what are some of your favorite things about living and working in NYC?
A: I feel much more energized when I’m in the city than back in the suburbs. I feel invigorated by the people and things buzzing around and a lot more excited to make things and engage with the world.

Q: Do you keep a sketchbook? What is the balance between art you create on paper [or other analog medium] versus in the computer?
A: I keep a thousand sketchbooks of different sizes and types. I mostly use them to keep my hands occupied, but sometimes I’ll use them for assignment sketches when I’m out of my studio. 

My work is almost all analog: I do all my drawing on paper with ink and watercolor, and then I scan and compile everything digitally, making adjustments here and there. 

Q: What is the most important item in your studio?
A: Honestly, my laptop. Not cheap. 

Q: How do you know when the art is finished—or when to stop working on it?
A: I stop when I don’t think there’s anything else I can add that would improve the piece, which I guess is an instinctive feeling, but I try to be mindful of it. Sometimes, when I’m really not sure, I’ll make myself walk away from it for a while so that I can look at it with fresh eyes later. And I've got some smart pals who I often ask for advice.

Q: What was your favorite book as a child?
A:Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was my favorite, but the entire HP series shaped my worldview maybe just as much as school and my parents did. 

Q: What is the best book you’ve recently read?
A: Fever Dream, a novella by Samanta Schweblin. It’s about mothers and their young children, and it’s one of the scariest things I have ever read. 

Q: If you had to choose one medium to work in for an entire year, eliminating all others, what medium would you choose?
A: I’ve been playing around with oil pastels recently, so I'll go with those. They feel very different from my usual watercolors and inks; much more deliberate. Might have to get gloves though. 

Q: What elements of daily life exert the most influence on your work practice?
A: Emotions! conversations. Watching baseball. Jokes. Politics, of course, always.

Q: What was the strangest/most interesting assignment you've taken that has an important impact on your practice, and what changed through the process?
A: I think the assignment that had the most impact on my practice was my first assignment, just by virtue of it being my starting point. I had felt very insecure about contacting art directors and promoting my work, but once I completed that assignment, I learned to trust myself a little more. 

Q: What would be your last supper?
A: A granola bar. Let’s get this over with.

Hannah Drossman is an illustrator and internationally-exhibited artist who graduated with a BFA in Illustration from Parsons The New School for Design in 2014. Her work has been honored by American Illustration, the Society of Illustrators, and 3x3 Magazine, and her client list includes The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Bloomsbury Publishing. 

Images, top down:
How the powerful manipulate people using focus groups / The Baffler
On the dearth of female GOP politicians / FiveThirtyEight
"As Andre, Thomas faces execution for three gory murders, a court questions jury bias and his competency." / The Marshall Project
Book review of Mary Gaitskill's The Mare, a novel about a troubled girl who bonds with an abused horse / The New York Times Book Review