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Featured Artist of the Week: Taura Hanson

Name: Taura Hanson

Age: 39

Medium: Brush lettering Taura Hanson is originally from Manitoba, but moved to Kingston in 2008 , then to Dubai for four years and returned to Kingston in January 2014 due to her love for the community and the city's thriving art scene. Now, she is an active arts community member in Kingston. Though she works her day job as a freelance web designer for Innovate Kingston, Hanson is also on the organizing committee for the Kingston Women's Arts Festival, sells her work and runs sold-out workshops at The Kingston Collective. She's always loved art and recently got out of painting when she discovered her love for brush lettering. Now she works hard to develop and keep up her skills, sometimes just by practicing strokes while watching Netflix.

How did you originally get into your craft?

I found, just looking for inspiration for painting on Instagram I stumbled upon hand lettering from other artists and it just really spoke to me. I’ve always liked lettering, but didn’t realize there was this thing called brush lettering until I started seeing it on Instagram and then thought I would just give it a try and just fell in love with it.

How long have you been doing it?

About a year now. I started last June.

What artists inspire you?

I really like The Happy Ever Crafter. She’s Becca Courtice. She's from Ottawa. Each artist kind of has their own flare or their own style to the letters. So I think for everyone who has an interest in brush lettering, they’re going to be drawn to different artists. She’s one of my favourites. I also like The Blushing Script… Lindsey… she’s another one who’s style I really like. All Instagram artists. And Letters by Shells is another one. Her name’s Shelley.

What is your creative process?

Sometimes I just see something in the shops that I want to letter on. So, as an example, I was in Ikea and saw these bathroom toiletry items: like a soap pump and a toothbrush holder and a cup, and just had an idea to letter on those some words like ‘lather,’ ‘rinse', ‘brush', that kind of thing. So normally what I’ll then do is go home, I’ll practice different styles of lettering on scrap paper, try to get a composition that I like on the scrap paper. Then I will usually take a lightbox and get my final paper and use a proper medium, like the proper thickness of pen or style of ink that I want to use to get the final look and feel for the lettering itself. And then, depending on what the final project is – if it’s on paper that’s usually the final step – but if it’s on an item like I said for the bathroom (products), I’ll grab, in that case, it might be a paint pen or a paint brush. Then I’ll have my master template as a reference and then I can copy that onto the final item. But there’s usually a process of sketch it out, refine it and then do the final version.

Describe what your workspace looks like.

My workspace is chaos. I think a lot of artists have that same issue. My spare room is my studio. And what’s really funny is I don’t usually do my work in my studio. So, I have all of my supplies in my studio, and then when I’m ready to work on a project I'll take what supplies I need and bring them out into my living area. I like to sit at the dining room table. I think I just like the open space a bit more than being in a tight, confined space in a bedroom.

What part of your style makes you stand out as an artist?

I guess I just stand out locally because I don’t see a lot of locals doing brush lettering in Kingston. So I have a slight advantage in that respect. But I guess it would just be my own style, like handwriting or lettering is almost individual to each person, so I would say it’s just my unique take on the letters and how they look.

Do you have a favourite piece you’ve made?

I don’t. I mean, it’s hard to say because I look back at work I did six months ago and I’m not excited about it anymore because when you do lettering your style grows, or it progresses. Like, you continually get better at it. So basically each project I start – each new project is then my new favourite project because I feel, to me, I look at it and think it looks better than my previous work. So right now, I guess if I had to pick one, it would be (my) tote bags.

What is the best part about doing what you do?

I like the freedom that I can do it anywhere, really. Like, I can be practicing in a meeting. So, I like that it’s very versatile. It can go with you anywhere. You can letter on virtually anything, any surface: glass, wood, ceramic, cloth. It works for all occasions. So, yeah, I think I really just like the versatility of it.

What is the most challenging?

Consistency. And having confidence in your work because, I think, being a web designer by day I have a very acute attention to detail. So I can be overly critical of my work. So, I have to learn just to not be so hard on myself and know that what I’m doing is good, or good enough.

What is something people don’t realize about what you do?

That it’s harder than it looks. I’ve had a lot of people think that– they come to the workshops even – thinking that it’s going to be easy and then they very quickly realize how difficult it is to create the thick and thin lines and get the flowing letters and have consistent letter form and so, yeah I think there’s a misconception that it’s easy to some people.

What do you want people to take away from your work?

I just want people to feel like whatever they walk away with, if they buy a piece of my art, I want them to feel like it’s got a bit of their personality in it. So, I think it’s more in the message, that, you know – like, for example the tote bags, right now the ones that I have say ‘groceries and shit.’ So that’s not for everyone, but I like that the people that get it, love it. So yeah, I guess I just like that the people who like my work also, I guess, would like my sense of humour and personality.

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