Interview with Samantha Hahn
What do you consider yourself?
Illustrator, author, art director and the founder of Maison Rainbow.
How did you get started in your field doing what you do?
I’ve been drawing and painting since I was a child. I went on to study art in college and then carved out my own path professionally as an illustrator and author. After many years working commercially, I craved the challenge and opportunity to collaborate so I expanded my services to include photo art direction and creative direction. Most recently, I craved the chance to create my own thing so I launched Maison Rainbow, an art shop featuring a myriad of rainbow paintings.
Why did you decide to do Maison Rainbow?
I believe colors have power. They elevate us to a higher state of mind. And rainbows are the purest manifestation of color in nature. Prescription-strength chromatic medicine for the soul. I wanted to finally build my own thing. My aim is to bottle a bit of the rainbow’s magic for people to keep. I’m hopeful that the rainbows I paint will offer people a momentary escape to a place of blue skies and golden sun when things feel bleak.
I’ve been building Maison Rainbow for months. Then the pandemic hit and I thought, that’s it, I can’t do this. But seeing people sharing rainbows as symbols of hope, I figured it might be the perfect time to put a little light and color in the world. Who couldn’t use another rainbow or two?
I know you’ve done mostly illustration but a lot of art directing most recently. Do you prefer one over the other and do you think they inform each other?
I love the special flow experience I get from doing illustration. After working independently for many years, I knew I needed a challenge and craved a new experience so I started creative directing to work more collaboratively. Magic happens when I can convey a concept and idea visually in the form of a mood board that communicates it to fellow creatives. On set we come together, bringing our expertise and passion to see the vision through.
Both illustration and creative direction are about conveying moods, feelings and ideas visually. My work in both fields informs the other.
What’s your work space like?
(Pre-Pandemic): My studio has an art table that holds my paints and other materials. Across from that is my computer desk, scanner and other tech. My chair swivels between both. It’s a very small space but the building is a pre-1900 townhouse so the ceiling is high and it’s sunny and lovely. On the other side of the room is a little work table for my children.
What’s a typical day like for you?
(Pre-pandemic): My husband and I wake at 5:30 to meditate then give the kids breakfast and have our coffee. After breakfast I exercise and get ready for the day. I take the kids to school and then return to my studio for work or head to a photo studio for a shoot. On days I’m doing illustration, my husband and I have lunch together then go back to our workspaces (we both work from home). Some days I have a meeting or coffee date with a client or friends. In the late afternoon I pick up the kids. We have dinner together as a family and after the kid’s bedtime I go back to work or chill, depending on how much I have to do.
(During-pandemic): We keep the early morning wake up time to meditate and get the day rolling, I exercise and then we make the kids breakfast and have coffee. I facilitate their homeschooling while working. We have lunch together and then I work/homeschool some more. Mid-afternoon we go for a nature walk or hike. I work or play with the kids in the afternoon post hike. We have family dinner and then sit outside to watch twilight fall and then I work again at night or chill and watch Sopranos with my husband.
What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in a creative field?
Take your time to carve out your own path. Work hard, take action and keep learning and playing.
What’s coming up for you this year?
I’m taking things day by day. I will always try to stay nimble and of service to clients and followers. I would love to keep up with the illustrative columns I started with The New York Times Style section and NY Magazine/The Cut as well as lean in to work with Maison Rainbow. In addition to getting the shop launched I’m starting a Maison Rainbow newsletter where I’ll interview artists whose colorful work I think people will love and share lots of eye candy and inspiration for the visually hungry.
How has the current situation affected your work flow. Any pivots?
Since the pandemic I have been leaning into doing on-going series versus one-and-done projects. I’m doing an illustrated column for The New York Times style section, showing designer DIY projects and one with New York Magazine/ The Cut to explore the ways people are “Carrying-On”, finding happiness in the every day. I have also been lettering people’s thoughts and feelings on my own Instagram to give voice to our collective and individual experience. Doing these ongoing series is giving me direction and purpose in such uncertain times.
What’s inspiring you lately?
Seeing the response to Maison Rainbow and how the paintings are making people smile gives me so much hope and inspires me to keep creative and connected.
Connecting with others through my art gives me passion to keep moving forward.
Where to find more of Samantha’s work
Click here to get Samantha’s rainbow print from the Lars Print Shop!