To your left, a latex-smooth bunny drips liquid-like colors, her amplified eyes literally beaming with exaggerated life; to your right, an ice cream cone, propped up in stilettos, her tongue wagging to one side for added balance. Welcome to the eccentric world of illustrator Hattie Stewart.
The professional doodler does just that, expelling pent-up energy through her quirky, contemporary imagery, doodling on seemingly any surface—porcelain, clothes, brick facades, magazine covers—and evoking a playful twist on life’s washed-up norms.
Stewart’s artistic approach is part satirical, part fantastical, drawing from childhood playthings and lighthearted curiosity to enthrall with a new breed of editorial expression. Her trending Doodle Bombed covers mimic stereotypes with her Stewart-stamped absurdity, arrogating animated arousal, retouched retouchings, dark humor articulated in infectious vibrant colors—the clever paradoxes go ‘round and ‘round.
With that notable Hattie Stewart lampooning, Stewart has worked with the likes of Marc Jacobs and Henry Holland, validating her expertise with the very covers she started off doodling on. We spoke with the talented illustrator about work, inspiration and old-school cartoons.
Who is Hattie Stewart? Where does she come from? What does she do, and why does she do it?
Still figuring it out myself. Colchester, Essex but I’ve been residing in London for the past 4 years. I draw to live and live to draw, because there is nothing I’d rather do.
Go back as far as you can in your mental doodling catalog. What were your favorite things to doodle starting off?
I used to love designing and drawing my own toys! I went through a mermaid obsession so would draw a lot of those then make them swim around the house turning cupboards into underwater caves. I loved Disney—particularly ‘The Sword In The Stone’—my favorite scene being with the squirrels and anything with Madam Mimm, so there were a few re-creations of those. Also Dandy and Beano comics were a particular favorite—especially Beryl The Peril. I had my papa’s annuals which he had from the fifties, so I’d sit down and draw from those also.
There was a lot of copying my favorite characters! Tom & Jerry, The Rescuers, Fern Gully—I could go on forever! I guess all these guys definitely informed my work today. I remember going around Sheffield with my uncle and helping him paint murals of different cartoon characters in primary schools so I was never out of practice. I simply always need to draw or create in some form or another to expel my nervous energy.
Where do you find inspiration for your exaggerated, bubbly creations? We see some hints of vintage cartoons…
Well, if the above answer is anything to go by I’d say you’re right. Cartoons were always a huge influence as they were what I grew up with and wanted to draw. Right now I love Bob’s Burgers. Louise rules and I think she may have inadvertently inspired my latex bunny suit character come to think of it?! Inspiration for me though can come from anywhere—a conversation, a film, a song, a photograph. I have an inspiration blog superhattiehattie.tumblr.com where I reblog a lot of the things I find visually stimulating.
Tell us about your magazine cover doodles. Are you lending your work to modify people, a culture, an image?
Never to modify people—I think magazines do that enough themselves. The covers are part satire part homage. When I first began the project I used whatever I could find—those were the more experimental stages—now I tend to stay with more mainstream covers as they are much more fun to satirize. Satire, I believe, is best understood if the viewer is already somewhat aware of the existing content. The message has a stronger impact.
Your color palettes are so much fun. Where do you find inspiration for those bright, happenin’ colors?
Everywhere—like a moth to a flame I’m drawn to color but also to the strong simplicity of black and white. For me color is always one extreme or the other—intense bright or B/W, and it ultimately depends on my mood.
Tell us a little about editorial/commercial doodling. Is it difficult to remain true to your doodles and incorporate a larger meaning?
You will always stay true to yourself and your work if you love or enjoy what you’re doing. My personal work and my commercial work both informs and compliments the other. Sometimes when I’m stuck on ideas a commercial job will give me a theme that inspires my own work and in turn my own work inspires the commercial stuff—it’s all one big interloping circle and if ever I’m not happy with anything commercial I’ll simply turn it down. I always mix the two no matter what I’m doing. For me they are one and the same.
You’re creating on so many levels. What’s it like working with different mediums and what’s something you’ve never doodled on but would like to?
I love it—the freedom it’s afforded me creatively has been a thrill. I love experimenting and messing around with different mediums and surfaces—from skulls to leather jackets. I keep talking about but am yet to find the time to get it organized, but I would love to re-create some of my illustrated covers in real life with body/face painting—this is definitely something I would love to explore.
To be honest I want to paint and draw on any surface—I’d love to do a collection of furniture or paint on a car—fellow illustrator Annu Kilpelainen recently painted on a rally car and it looked incredible! Also I love the work of Esther Mahlangu she created her BMW art car. I’m always up for new experiences so we’ll just see what happens.
What are you doing when you’re not doodling?
Doodling to be honest, or drinking with friends.