- Megan Hess and the Power of Print
Megan Hess is, in her own words, 'doing what she loves every day'. From a very young age she loved sketches of fashion and dreamt of one day becoming a fashion illustrator. Fast forward to now, and her signature style has grabbed the attention of fashion houses across the globe with a client list including Dior, Fendi, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Montblac, Givenchy, Valentino, Balmain, Jimmy Choo, and Tiffany and Co.
From working with prestigious brands and clients, through to developing her own collections, Megan works from her beautiful studio in Melbourne, surrounded by large scale prints and objects featuring her work.
We sat down with her in her Melbourne studio to discover a bit more about her creative process and how the role of print plays in her business.
Tell us what you love about print?
People really engage with print still, even in the digital age. I think they always will, because there's something they can connect with in terms of the tangible visuals in front of them.
Having a tangible print they can keep on their desk or wall is a reminder of something they enjoyed. And I think it's just something beautiful to have in life.
I love seeing one of my prints in someone's house, and I love seeing how different people frame my artwork, where they place it, what it’s sitting in amongst in their own, environment and space.
How would you describe your illustrations?
It's always hard to describe your own work. I feel like my illustrations have a very glamorous edge to them but they're quite simplistic, in the sense that, a lot of my characters are quite flat in tone with just a little bit of line work. So, they vary from being very detailed in terms of the scene, through to some illustrations, which are just eyes, lips, and a face.
All of my illustrations are hand drawn with my custom-made Montblanc pen. I normally do about 25 limited-edition prints of each one.
How do you use your studio in your creative process?
The studio could be described as a big white space — it feels like a blank canvas. It's somewhere that feels very relaxing and very positive. When I come in every morning, I'm really excited to create. It's also a space with a great energy, where my clients and the people I'm collaborating with love to work. There's great light to come and work together.
What was your print process before you brought it in-house?
Bringing the printing in-house with Canon has really enabled me to own my printing process. Now I see my illustrations being brought to life and printed in real time. Before bringing it in-house there used to be a gap between illustrating it and seeing the print. Now I can actually see that print almost immediately after I've drawn it, it’s really exciting.
Would you recommend other creative professionals bring their printing in-house?
Having the ability to print in my own studio gives me the control over colour, and the control over quality and detail. It brings the relationship between an actual sketch and the final product closer.
It means we can really see the quality of every single one, and I now have the peace of mind that each artwork is reproduced exactly as it should be.
It's incredible to have the technology at my fingertips to be able to produce such a high-quality art print.
Do you find the professional printing challenging?
It is easy. I mean, surprisingly easy. The technology is incredible, and certainly not basic. Working with Canon printers is pretty seamless. The workflow in the studio is seamless, and allows us to manage the process of illustration to print quite easily.
What advice would you give to creatives who are working on their own projects?
Well, being someone that just couldn't live without doing something creative, I believe that if you stick at it long enough you’ll find a way to be able to do it. And if you're someone that draws, I always say to students and people that are trying to find their style, ‘if you just keep drawing, your style will actually find you’. I think it's something that you just can't give up on.
Creative paths are never laid out for you. It's not something that you can ever wait for someone to find for you. You actually have to go out there and find it yourself.
You have to work hard and just put in passion and effort towards it. And if it's something that you love, you can't really fail.
How have you found the transition from artist to businesswoman?
I don't necessarily think of myself as a businesswoman, even though I do have a business. It’s something that I never saw myself doing, and it just happened organically over time. And it’s pretty much a dream come true for me, because I get to do what I love for a career. I still see myself as an artist. At the end of the day both roles start with a blank piece of paper.
I now have a separate studio where I work with other great creative people, and I have the ability to be a little bit diverse in some of the projects that I work on. This allows me to also have my own prints and products that are separate to the bigger commercial projects that I work on. Its just sort of opened things up and it just makes it really interesting.
What are the different hats you wear in an average week?
Within any given week, I’m working on many different projects. It might be that I'm sketching in the studio at the desk one day, and other times I'm literally flying to the other side of the world to work on the launch of a project that I've been working on.
Sometimes it's just stepping back and planning a print collection, or working on my next book. So the role does change, and ultimately I want to always keep moving forward.
So I do have to have an eye over what I'm doing in a business sense, but never lose sight of what it is that makes it fun and made me want to do it in the first place: the passion of just wanting to draw every single day.
Uniting exploration, photography and the natural world, Tales by Light offers a rare glimpse into the eyes and minds of some of Australia and the world’s best photographic storytellers.