Last week I introduced you to Samantha Hennessy at SAMANTHA HENNESSY DESIGN who created the cover for my latest novel THE DEW THAT GOES EARLY AWAY – and the covers for all of my books. (PART ONE HERE)
Enjoy part two of this interview with the very talented SAMANTHA HENNESSY:
When did you first realize you wanted to be a designer?
As a kid my mother enrolled me in different after-school art classes – ceramics, paper-making, all sorts of things. I loved these classes. My mother let me look through the catalog of the local art school and pick a different class every year. One year I took a cartooning class, but felt uncomfortable when I realized I was only girl in the group; I didn’t make any friends.
I realized that cartooning wasn’t something I was very good at or even liked to do! At that time I was also taking piano lessons and decided to quit after years of lessons, but I stuck with the cartooning class. I pushed myself to try something different that I wasn’t sure I’d like, but never felt discouraged. There are many, many things that I’ve made since that cartooning class that I didn’t like or wasn’t good at, but I’ve never stopped loving creating things. You know you’re supposed to do something when failure feels like a chance at a new beginning, rather than an end.
Tell us about the other design work you do.
I work in a lot of different mediums. Digital design is something relatively new for me. I taught myself how to use Photoshop and Illustrator to manipulate hand sketches and to create vector illustrations for my book cover projects. These programs are great because you can play around without having to waste materials or scrap canvases. It feels less permanent.
I’ve recently got back into printmaking, which is the antithesis of digital design.
This summer when rummaging through the art supply closet in my childhood home, I found my old carving tools and started right back up again. For my prints, I begin with a sketch in pencil, which I trace over on a piece of tracing paper. I lay the tracing paper on a block of linoleum, sketch-side down, and trace over a second time, so that the graphite from the tracing paper sketch presses onto the linoleum leaving graphite outlines. I carve out the block with a linoleum cutter. This part takes the longest (depending on how detailed the design). Using a metal bench hook as an inking plate, I roll out printing ink using a brayer, and then roll over the carved linoleum with the inked brayer. Lastly, I press the linoleum onto paper or fabric to create the “stamp” and wait for the linoprint to dry.
This is a HUGELY time intensive process. It’s the opposite of digital design where I can send botched files to the recycle bin without a second thought, or work for short increments without any preparation or cleanup. Linocuts are meant to be reused and reprinted – whatever design I decide to carve has to be “worth it” in the long run. The blocks need to be stored somewhere after they’re carved. The carving process is precarious because one slip of the cutter can take out a piece of linoleum you don’t want taken out (or send you running for a band-aid or worse). Then inking, and rolling, and maybe even smudging the print and having to re-print, and washing the thick, gooey ink the consistency of peanut butter off the bench hook between colors… the whole thing is a pain! But! Linoprints look and feel so beautiful, like velvet. The process is traditional and laborious, and in turn, kind of romantic. I keep coming back.
Aside from the printmaking and digital design, I also paint, draw, collage, embroider, sew, craft all sorts of projects, and color in coloring books with my son in my spare time.
As a newlywed raising a toddler and working a full-time job in insurance how do you find time for your blossoming design career?
I don’t! Actually this question is something I’ve been thinking a lot about since I started working full time this July. Up until that point, I was finishing up my degree and staying at home with my son. While I had classes to attend and diapers to change, I still had a lot more time to design. My son’s two hour nap was always dedicated to projects. I was able to be a lot of things at once – a mother, a student, an artist – because I could make my own schedule.
Now that I’m working full time, my day-to-day is completely different, and design seems like the last thing on my list of things that never get done. I’m trying to work on projects when I can – since we just moved to a new apartment, the projects have been mostly home-decorating related but that’s ok, it’s a start! I just made a garland out of scraps of fabric that looks really colorful and fun on the wall.
I’ll get a handle on this time-management thing someday, because I know that for the sake of my sanity, design needs to be a part of my life.
Check out Sam’s work at:
**Featured Image Samantha Hennessy, Self Portrait