Aley Hanson’s Creative Spirit is Goals

Illustrator Aley Hanson has a very straightforward approach to life. “I believe in moving through the world freely and honestly, that there is strength in vulnerability and courage in self-love,” she writes on her website. And so, following this approach in both her personal and commercial practice, Hanson’s work embodies tolerance, diversity, womanism, and empowerment.

View this post on Instagram

Hi! Aley here 🙂 I've had the pleasure of gaining some new followers recently and thought I'd say 👋 and introduce myself. I'm an illustrator from San Francisco, and I also grew up in Sydney (I'm half Aussie). 4 years ago I quit my full time design gig in SF to travel and volunteer, and since then I've worked on mushroom farms in Peru, horse ranches in Oaxaca, permaculture gardens in Portugal, homesteads in Transylvania, guesthouses In Turkey, festivals in Croatia, greenhouses in Sardinia, etc. I went wild and free and wasn't sure what I wanted to do career-wise. It felt good to not know. I studied illustration but never took myself seriously enough to pursue it with all my power and might. For many years I believed that I simply wasn't very talented. In mid 2018, I spent 9 days in silent meditation in Poland, and I sat with the idea of letting visual art go. It was then that I realized that illustration is my true passion and calling. Since that moment I've been hungrily developing my skills and style, and I'm so grateful for this vocation and the privilege of being able to pursue it. Traveling gave me many things: new perspectives, language, radical self-love, many amazing friends, joy, and a life path that gently revealed itself when I looked inwards. Freelance illustration is not for the faint of heart. It's hard, but for those who love it more than any other thing, it's worth it.🌻💙🌻💙🌻💙🌻💙🌻💙

A post shared by aley hanson (@aley.wild) on

An illustrator and lettering artist, her work often includes a healthy dose of optimism, inspiring others to get in touch with their creative spirit. “The magic ingredient to creating is believing in yourself and your creative power,” explained Hanson in an interview with The Design Kids. “It took some time for that to land with me, and once I did my creativity took off. When I start to trash talk myself (as we all do), I stop, look in a mirror and say ‘I have a strong creative voice’. It’s super dorky and it works. Gotta feel your own work for others to feel it too.”

Based in San Francisco, Hanson describes her work as “neo-primitive,” with her bright and colorful imagery relying on bold color contrasts and strong and unapologetic shapes. Her tips to other aspiring artists? If you don’t know what your style is, look beyond other artists, beyond the visual – and into yourself. “Gather things that bring you joy or are a part of you: where you grew up, music, food, books, films, personal strengths, vulnerabilities, etc,” she further explains. “Create a giant mood board, and once you see everything together, identify the patterns and big ideas. Bring these elements into your work and your authentic style will begin to emerge. Even your weaknesses lead you to create in a unique way, and if you’re conscious of them, you can push them to play to your advantage.”

Her work will inspire you to get going, if nothing else.