Creative Spotlight: Interview with Illustrator Rhiann Hearons

Updated: Jan 15

"There's a sense of community in the world of illustrators and small business owners. We all start off in the same place."

Words: Rachel Cameron-Potter and Rhiann Hearons

Images: rhearons_art

An artistic frog, illustrated by Rhiann Hearons
An artistic frog, illustrated by Rhiann Hearons


Hi Rhiann! First of all, how are you doing? How have you been finding lockdown?

Hi, I’m alright. This whole situation couldn't have come at a worse time really, I haven’t officially graduated from university yet! I must say I’ve definitely enjoyed all of the free time though – it's really allowed me to focus on creativity and setting up my career as an illustrator.

My partner and I have just recovered from the virus and we’re excited to go out and about. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’ve missed standing in line at the post office! Mundane activities are very appealing after three weeks of isolation.

Can you tell us a bit about your background? How did you get into illustrating?

I’m originally from Newcastle Upon Tyne but I’m currently living in Lincoln, where I studied Illustration BA Hons at the university. I’ve always been creative and passionate about painting and drawing, so it seemed a natural choice to go into an artistic career. I struggled deciding between a degree in fine art, graphics, or illustration, eventually choosing the latter because it encompasses all of the elements I love about painting and producing work for a product or client.

I finished my degree this year, amongst all of the pandemic madness. I was absolutely adamant that I wouldn't let my creative passions sit on the back burner whilst I searched for a reliable day job. I decided to focus my energy on my online image. I did this by making my own branding, engaging in social media giveaways, and setting up an Etsy shop to sell prints of my work.

Your work bounces from Gothic horror to hedgehogs with juice boxes. What’s the inspiration behind your style?

'Self love juice' opossum by illustrator Rhiann Hearons
'Self love juice' opossum by illustrator Rhiann Hearons

Ah what a question! I consider myself a lover of horror, supernatural and spooky stuff in general, but at the same time I’m a huge animal lover and advocate for mental health and body positivity. I guess this expressed itself in one of my most popular illustrations - an opossum drinking ‘self-love juice’. Opossums are considered vermin, so it made sense to have this unloved and misunderstood animal relishing in its self-love and positivity.

I have two styles of working: large scale semi-realistic acrylic paintings with an eye for detail, and my more casual and humorous fine-liner and marker illustrations. I think it's important for any aspiring illustrator to not be too focused on finding one style or one way of working; different clients want different things, it's good to be versatile.

What are some of the most exciting projects that you’re working on at the moment?

I’ve recently finished work for Alphabetti Theatre and Woven Nest, designing their Christmas promenade posters.

I’ve updated my Etsy shop in time for the festive season – it's very exciting! I’m also currently working on commissions for Christmas.

What do you find the most rewarding about your work?

Raven and eyeball, by illustrator Rhiann Hearons
Raven and eyeball, by illustrator Rhiann Hearons

The feedback I get from customers and clients makes my day. I started my Etsy shop in July and it's really taken off. There's something so lovely about making money from a passion and enjoying the process of packing orders and sending work all over the world. It's crazy and wonderful to think that my artwork is displayed in someone's home – I especially love when customers tag me in photos of where my work is displayed in their homes. I feel like saying ‘Wow you FRAMED it! That's so kind and lovely’.

What advice would you give to other aspiring illustrators?

Be proactive! Don’t be afraid of sharing your work and making yourself visible to potential customers or clients. Reach out to other creative people who inspire you, ask questions and make connections. There's a sense of community in the world of illustrators and small business owners. We all start off in the same place – I’ve only just begun my illustration career and I’ve been asked to do an interview – how cool is that!

Finally, stay positive about your creative career and general wellbeing. It's tough with all of this uncertainty but we’ve got to push through and as cliché as it sounds, we’ll be stronger for it.

Images: rhearons_art

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