We all love Hasia Curtis’ ‘Garden Party’ cover. “I started out thinking about something typically British,” she tells me, “with hats and tea. But then I moved on to this idea – and made the cover more colourful and contemporary. I thought about the gardens I’ve visited in Lewes, how they’re often on different levels, because the town’s so hilly.”
Hasia, in the first instance, sketches with colour pencils. These sketches she then scans into an iPad. She draws over them electronically, before piecing the final composition together in Photoshop. “I used to be anti-digital, but when I got my iPad I became a convert”, she says.“I like bright colours in everything, though it’s quite difficult to arrive at a final palette. I also love drawing people. I try not to draw anyone I know so I don’t offend people, but I do base the characters in my illustrations on those I see around me.
“I’ve always loved people-watching, sitting in cafés, etc. I like to imagine what they’re up to – make up stories. This is where my character design process begins.”
Hasia, as we spoke, was just about to graduate from the University of Derby in Illustration. She’s really enjoyed the course – learning how to depict posture, and gestures, for instance – and feels confident she’s now found her medium – though she started out, when younger, concentrating on textiles and pottery. She grew up in Lewes – and went to Southover School, then Priory. “My first job was actually delivering Viva Lewes, about nine years ago”, she says.“My mum’s an artist in Lewes: Mia Eden – she’s one of the Patina artists [see page 72]. She always encouraged me to explore all sorts of artistic impulses. But I was doing Textiles at A Level, and my teacher called my work ‘quite naïve, and illustrative’. At first I was a bit discouraged, but then I realised this was right. The feedback helped me find my direction.”
The kind of work Hasia does is “contemporary editorial illustration”. Last issue she started a regular commission – illustrating Eleanor Knight’s ‘Keyboard worrier’ column – for us. She took part in Artwave last year, and is again this – exhibiting in The Laurels. She’s also done some work for a greetings card company. What would be your dream commission, I ask. “I really enjoyed my final Specialist Practice project at uni. I produced a 54-page ‘interactive’ magazine called Kind. It was partly based around random acts of kindness – so there was one piece on writing a letter, which you could cut out and turn into an envelope. A monthly commission for a magazine is right up my street. “Also last year, book designer Ness Wood came in and set us an afternoon brief. To come up with a short, simple, sequential piece – ten small squares, then one big one. I did Making Coffee, and really enjoyed it. I’ve gone on to set myself other similar exercises – one being a series of unfortunate events taking place on a train. So one passenger trips, and knocks another, who spills his coffee…” Is that a cartoon strip, or even graphic novel, I see on the cards…?
hasiacurtis.com; Instagram @hasia_illustration