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Issue 11: Illustrator Hallie Bateman
Go a few generations back in Hallie Bateman’s family tree and there are just claw marks left by a family of bears. She sometimes drinks paint water by accident and once drew a series of portraits of her friends as potatoes. She is the art director at The Bygone Bureau and Pandodaily.
 
 
Q&A with hallie bateman
The illustration work of Hallie Bateman, March 2013 Vhcle Magazine Issue 11, Design
 
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2013
 
 
– Disconnected
 
 
 
How/when did your interest in illustration begin?
 
I’ve always loved drawing, but I wasn’t entirely aware of what illustration was until college. I spent one summer when I was unemployed just writing little stories on my blog and illustrating them. Over that summer it just clicked for me that that’s what I wanted to do. Almost as soon as I was aware of that, I wanted to illustrate anything and everything. I did illustrations for the school newspaper, made posters for the radio station, but still was ravenous for more work. I had known of The Bygone Bureau because it was started by some alumni. Their site had great writing but no images. So I emailed them being like, “Hey! You need some art! Let me draw pictures for you!” Since then I’ve rarely been without a deadline.
 
People/things that influence/inspire you?
So many wonderful artists. Graham Roumieu, Maira Kalman, Edward Gorey, Saul Steinberg… way too many to name, actually (and too many I don’t know yet). As much as their work, I’ve always been obsessed with learning about artists themselves. Not just visual artists – comedians, filmmakers, writers. Anyone who is creative. I love hearing about how someone works, how they started, the trajectory of their career, what they ate for breakfast. I love Art21, Fresh Air, TED, The Paris Review, the WTF podcast. All super inspiring. Also, I stalk artists on the internet a lot.
 
You are illustrator and also the art director for The Bygone Bureau – tell us a bit about your thoughts on illustration vs. art direction
 
My early work for The Bygone Bureau is basically how I learned to illustrate. After a couple years they brought me on as art director. I had never been art directed in my life, and suddenly I was an art director. It was cool. I felt fancy. But I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I learned very quickly that you can’t just draw using someone else’s hand. And you don’t want to! When I art direct I have to restrain my illustrator self completely. My art director self takes over. It’s this funny, very carefully controlled process aimed at giving the artist the most freedom possible while still meeting certain demands. Since I developed these two sides, I sometimes try to art direct myself, but I’m very hard to control. I let a lot of things slide that would never work if I was two separate, sane people.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Can you tell us a little about one of your most memorable illustrations?
Yeah! I’m pretty excited about a comic I did recently, which started a couple of years ago when I found some of my mom’s journals from when she was 17 and traveling around Europe for a summer. It was amazing to read them. I felt like I was time-traveling, hanging out with my mom as a teenager. And she was such a great writer even then. The journals are witty, sweet and profound. 
One of my favorite parts was a guide to kissing she wrote in a silly, ‘Miss Manners’ style. I held onto it for a while, and this Valentine’s day I turned it into a comic and illustrated the whole thing. It was incredible to uncover a great piece of writing and give it life again – something that otherwise would just stay in this old notebook, unread, FOREVER. And my mom had totally forgotten she even wrote it. When she saw it she couldn’t believe it. She said, “That’s the best thing I’ve ever written!”
Favorite drink?
 
I love anything ginger! Ginger tea, ginger ale, ginger kombucha… I can’t think of other ginger stuff.
 
 
 
Cat in Books
You have a degree in creative writing and both your parents are journalists – has this influenced your work in any way? 
I think my parents gave me a wonderful introduction to working in a creative field. They were (and still are) each others’ editors, and I grew up hearing them talk about writing all the time. So I never thought about work and life as being separate. I saw that you can do what you’re passionate about, and make it your life.
 
Starting very young I was making fictional newspapers, magazines, movies, and comics all the time. Actually, what I do now is bizarrely similar to stuff I did as a kid. Some might say I’ve refused to grow up, but I think I’ve really maintained that sense – work is play! Just because you’re doing your job doesn’t mean you can’t be totally ridiculous and have fun.
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