Subsign Spotlight #018

with Ioana Harasim (Hara)

We at Subsign want to contribute to the global creative community, thus the Subsign Spotlight initiative was born. We will bring you interviews and shine the light on a person (or collective) who has shown creativity and courage via their work.

This week our talk is with a very skillful and unique illustrator.

Subsign: Before we get things rolling, let’s get acquainted. Tell us a few things about yourself.

Hara: Hello! I’m 26 and my full name is Ioana Harasim. My friends gave me the nickname HARA during high school and I kept it as my artist name. But now everybody calls me that way. I was born and raised in Galați and lived there until I was 23 when I finished college with a degree in environmental engineering. Three years ago I moved to Bucharest and since then I’ve been living here.

I am fascinated by lucid dreaming as much as I am by drawing. A lot of my ideas come from what I see when I dream at night. I’ve been drawing since I was a child with a three year break after I finished high school because of my lack of confidence in my skills. I eventually turned back to drawing during my third year of college when I realized that I love this too much to stop doing it.

Subsign: What was your childhood like? Do you think your experiences from childhood have influenced your present creative endeavors?

Hara: During my childhood I played a lot. I used to go on adventures with my brother who is one year younger than me. We’d bring a lot of animals at home so you could say that we had some unusual pets for a short while: snakes, lizards, bats, spiders etc. I can’t pinpoint exactly which experience influenced me the most, but a thing that had a big impact on me was starting to read manga during my teens. I’ve read thousands of chapters since then and I believe I learned a lot of things from them. I started to draw people after getting into Vagabond by Inoue Takehiko.

My mom also has a big role in who I am today. She told my brother and I when we were kids that everything we decide to do is up to us and that we are fully accountable for our actions, be them good or bad. So by having this freedom since childhood, I needn’t rebel during my teenage years and I could choose my path without having to take into account any expectations from others.

Subsign: How would you describe your style of work?

Hara: People told me that my illustrations have an aura of dreaminess and they’re also a bit dark and creepy. I, for one, can’t find a word for them since I’m the one making them. They just are an extension of me.

Subsign: Can you share with us how your creative process works?

Hara: Mostly, I just draw whatever I want in that moment. I open Photoshop and take the Wacom pen in my hand and start doodling. I also keep a small notebook with me where I write down ideas for drawings and execute them when I have the time. I’ve never lacked inspiration for what to draw — ideas usually just pop in my mind like a flash or I just start drawing randomly and build on the initial sketch until I have a finished piece. Another thing is that I can’t work without my favorite music in the background.

When I’m not drawing I’m devouring other artists’ work so I guess I take in a lot of influence from what I see. I love looking at art as much as I love making it.

Subsign: How does your work station look like?

Hara: I am very, very messy. I swear I clean my room often but it’s small so things don’t stay in order for long.

Right now I tidied my desk a bit for this picture. Usually, there’d be a lot of mugs filled with chocolate milk (my favorite drink), books, sketchbooks and other random things that end up on my desk during the day.

Subsign: What is your favorite work you have done so far?

Hara: My favorite is Fury in Your Eyes because it’s the first illustration I did in that style. I liked it so much that I decided I want to develop it.

Subsign: Who do you admire as a visionary?

Hara: Elon Musk. He’s decades away with his thinking and I believe, like many others, that he is among the people advancing the human race.

Subsign: What advice could you give to someone starting out in the creative field of work?

Hara: Keep working. Keep working. Keep working. Listen to your inner voice. Follow your instinct and taste. Don’t depend on other people’s approval because this will put you down. Find people you admire and follow them. Compare yourself to your idols but not in a destructive way. I mean look at their work and then at your work and see where you can improve.

And listen to Ira Glass talking about The Gap. It’s two minutes of the best thing someone could tell you about being a beginner. He says it in the best way possible here:

Subsign: If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

Hara: To have more patience. I am sometimes so frustrated with the things I don’t know yet that I start feeling bad and of course that my mood hinders my work. I am trying right now to be more patient with my learning process and take things easy. I think that if you have this you can do anything.

Subsign: Can you recommend for our readers a book, a song and a movie?

Book: Xenocide by Orson Scott Card

Song: Sola Sistim by Underworld

Movie: Stay (2005)

Bonus (TV show): please watch Mr. Robot if you haven’t already. You’re welcome.

Subsign: If you could throw any kind of party, what would it be like and what would it be for?

Hara: I don’t really like parties but if I were to throw one I’d like it to be a gaming party. We’d need a lot of PCs, consoles and pizza and we’d stay up all night playing games.

Subsign: What did you want to be as a grown up?

Hara: I wanted to be a fashion designer. I used to make clothes for my dolls and then later when I grew up, for me. They were badly sewn though.

Speaking of this, lately I started to create some patterns that I’d like to print on clothes. I’m hoping to find a fashion designer to collaborate with or print them on t-shirts myself. Wish me luck.

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For more of Hara’s work you can follow her on the links bellow:

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