Interview with Hannah Webb

Your description of yourself:

My name is Hannah Webb, although online I tend to go by The Obanoth. I’m a mid-20s weirdo living in Los Angeles. I paint, draw, design, doodle, screen print, eat, sleep, and pet my darling bunny rabbit, Atticus.

What turns you on creatively?

I gather inspiration everywhere I go. I follow tons of artists online, read articles, attend art shows, and admire the magnitude of urban art around my neighborhood in Los Angeles. Plus, I work in the admissions department of an art college, which means that I spend a lot of my workday talking to students about their portfolios and discussing futures in creative industries.

I would say that I’m most turned on creatively while sitting at my desk in my apartment — I have my studio set up so that I can reach almost any necessary supply from my chair. My art space is like a nest, and I tend to spend uninterrupted hours there drawing, painting, or designing. I’ve also got a decent set of speakers — the right music always sets the creative mood.

What do you think is the greatest myth about creativity?

I think that the greatest myth about creativity is that it’s lucky, or that it’s easy for certain people. While I would agree that some people tend to be more artistically inclined than others, people are not handed their abilities. The difference is dedication, meaning endless hours, days, weeks, months, and years of practice.

It’s not that you “can’t draw.” It’s that you’re not committed enough to get good at it.

What books, tools or resources have you used to improve your skills? And which could you never live without?

I spent 5 years working in a mom-and-pop art supply store, meaning I’ve managed to collect nearly every art tool or material known to man. Access to materials has been huge for me in terms of exploring and experimenting, which has been pivotal to my growth as an artist. I’ve explored everything from polyester resin casting to digital drawing, screen printing to mural painting, and plenty in between. At this point, I couldn’t live without my trusty sketchbook and hoard of Micron pens — the foundation of nearly everything I do.

What false believe was the hardest to out-learn or let go of?

It’s harsh, but it’s important to let go of the belief that you’re good at what you do. You need to maintain the perspective that you’re trying to reach the next level — learning and being able to recognize your weaknesses and shortcomings, welcoming critique. People who are overconfident and resistant to new ideas stall out.

Who are your strongest influences?

I would say that I’m mostly influenced by the people in my life — both encouragement and challenge from friends and artists that I’ve met along the way. I try to expose myself to lots of new work every day, so my influences change and are never static.

What sound do you love?

I grew up in Ohio, and love the sound of rain and thunderstorms. It’s very rare in Los Angeles, so it has become a treat to experience when it finally happens.

What’s your favorite curse word?

I certainly recognize the power of ever-versatile “Fuck,” but tend to gravitate towards those that are lesser-appreciated. Rats! Crap!

What does success mean to you?

Success is consistency. I would say that a flow of projects, opportunities, and production of work would constitute success — I think it’s a currant rather than a landing point.

What album can you never live without?

Oh man, that’s a really tough one. I’m a music junkie and obsess over artists and albums. I appreciate a wide range of music genres, which makes it even harder to pick just one — what I’m listening to depends on my mood at the time. I spent years playing viola and appreciate classical music, but also spent time taking mandolin lessons from a sheep farmer in Ohio and enjoy bluegrass now and then. I grew up listening to terrible, angsty metal, and have a penchant for dirty rap and hip hop. I guess what I mostly listen to these days is considered “Indie,” which seems to be a catch-all for everything else — electronic, down-tempo, melodic, groovy, bass-heavy.

Defining my music taste is tough.

What role, if any, does pain play in the creative process?

I’m wearing a wrist brace as I type, so there’s certainly an amount of physical pain that comes from overworking…

But I think that the real “pain” is mostly self-doubt. It’s easy to get discouraged, to feel like you’re not good enough, to feel like you should be working bigger, better, or more efficiently. To spend hours on a piece and then realize that it sucks.

This pain does a lot to weed people out of the creative field, but can be used as motivational tool if you keep it all in perspective. If you’re experiencing the pain of self-deprecation, then you’re seeing yourself alongside your peers objectively. Ultimately, it’s growth.

Who is your favorite fictional character?

That’s another tough one. Maybe Ren Hoek.

In his book, ‘The War of Art’, Steven Pressfield explains “resistance” as anything that blocks you from creating. What are some forms of resistance for you and how do you deal with them?

I consider the two biggest forms of resistance to be overconfidence and fear of failure, which are forces of hindrance that come from opposite directions. The trick is to stay somewhere in between.

What app, system or method do you use to keep track of your tasks and projects?

I keep a calendar where I log project deadlines — my turnaround for commission work is usually a week or two, so it helps me balance my time.

What’s the best creative advice you’ve ever received?

Work harder! Do more!

What’s your daily routine?

On weekdays, I wake up early, feed my bunny Atticus, and head to work. I’m usually home by 6:30 or so — I love to cook, so I try to make something interesting for dinner. After dinner, from around 8:00 to 11:00 or so, I’m making art.

Weekend evenings are usually spent out with friends. I like trying new restaurants and hopping around the local bar scene. Weekend days are spent back in the studio — I like to make coffee, open the blinds, and use the daylight hours to get more work done.

For you, what role does the artist play in society?

It’s tough to not give a cheesy answer here. Art is a manifestation of creativity, and creativity is what drives new ideas, which I think applies to our society as a whole. Those who push creative boundaries are the engineers of our evolution and societal growth. Visual artists encourage out of the box thinking.

And besides all of that, it sure is fun.

When and where are you happiest?

A perfect moment for me would be sitting at my desk on a rainy afternoon with either a boiling-hot latte or bowl of Pho’ from my favorite restaurant — windows open, music on. Heaven!

Scooby Doo or Pokemon?

Pokemon all the way. There are a ridiculous number of Pikachus in my office at work, actually… It’s a bit of an obsession.

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