Illustration grad and freelancer Hannah Buckman tells us about her creative process and the behind-the-scenes post-university struggles.

You’re a Camberwell Illustration grad working as a freelance illustrator. How have you navigated the shift from finishing university to where you are now?

Yeah that’s right. I’m also interning full time at Studio Moross at the moment. I actually left university feeling really bad about myself and my work and like I should maybe give up trying to be part of any kind of creative world. I moved countries for a year and had a lot of free time but nothing I made felt finished or 'good enough', although I liked being able to experiment privately in a way I didn’t feel I could at uni, where sharing work is built into the course structure. 

I felt best about work I was sharing on my blog, that no one in real life knew about. When I got back to London, I had a year plan and a consistent job I had to work around, which I think helped me figure out what I didn’t want. Somehow I got lucky and started illustrating for gal-dem online after responding to a call for new illustrators. Getting positive feedback from that helped me slowly start to believe in my work more, and wanting to continue making and getting better... I guess people notice this after a while. It’s an ongoing thing – I still have a lot of off days where I don’t feel good at all. I guess the thing to do is just keep making stuff without investing too much in outside perspectives.


"I actually left university feeling really bad about myself and my work and like I should maybe give up trying to be part of any kind of creative world."

Portraits Gucci Gang

What is the best/worst piece of professional advice that you have received?

I remember one of my tutors at Camberwell would always say this quote: "every artist has thousands of bad drawings in them and the only way to get rid of them is to draw them out." So that’s something that would float around in my head a little. 

You’re a regular contributor at online and print zine gal-dem, in which your illustrations often accompany articles with complex and poignant content. What is your creative process for work like this?

I can get a bit stressy at first mentally preparing for the possibility of offending someone and being called out, but mostly I just try to come up with whatever imagery feels natural to me. Sometimes I’ll run ideas past my sister to get another point of view. Usually I try not to think about it too hard and just do what feels best. The editors are really accepting of most of what I do. 


"Every artist has thousands of bad drawings in them and the only way to get rid of them is to draw them out."

Personal Byrne Party

How important is personal work for you?

I definitely think it’s important that I always have something to work on that’s more just for me, kind of as an anchor. It seems like it’s really easy to get lost in making things to please others, especially when people start paying attention to what you’re doing. Making time for personal projects seems like a good way to check in with yourself. Also, making what you want, then sharing it, seems valuable and hopefully contributes to getting asked to do more things that feel closer to your truth. Being able to decide for myself when something is finished is nice. 

"I definitely think it’s important that I always have something to work on that’s more just for me, kind of as an anchor. It seems like it’s really easy to get lost in making things to please others."

Gal Dem Whats In A Name

Your work is characterised by its distinctive and individual style. How have you seen this evolve since starting out?

For a long time, I was so confused and hung up on having a style. I was comparing myself a lot to what other people were doing then completely changing what I did every other week. I guess now I feel like it’s something that works out when you begin trusting yourself more. It’s only recently that I feel things coming together more. One thing I think has remained consistent with my way of working is not wanting my stuff to be too polished and graphic, although I can feel myself pulling away from that sometimes because, with commercial jobs, I guess it can feel like there’s pressure for things to be more tidy and legible. I think, for a long time, I also thought I'd never be able to achieve what I wanted working with a computer, but now it’s kind of become my safe option where I can be less precious about things because cmd + z and layers exist. Still, my ultimate aim is to make things that look like a 4 year old’s work! 

"For a long time, I was so confused and hung up on having a style."

Dc Scene 5 Restaurant

What projects are you excited about?

My friend pitched me a cool idea for a potential exhibition in Sydney that I could be involved in. It feels exciting to have to think about transporting the work and also getting the opportunity to work with new mediums, to find something that fits the exhibition format as well as the concept. It’s also interesting being asked to do something that isn’t identity-related!

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