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Hannah Ayoubi, illustrator and animator, is currently studying at California Institute of the Arts. She has created award winning animations, as well as bringing inspiration to many aspiring artists. In this interview and on her blog, Hannah talks about her hopes and dreams as well as those who support her. The strength she finds in her faith is admirable and her views of herself as an artist as well as a Christian is refreshing. It is no wonder that her artwork brings joy to those who view it.
ToonariPost (TP): How has your college experience helped you further your art dreams? Any experience in particular that stands out from among the rest?
Hannah Ayoubi (HA): CalArts is an incredible school. I can’t even explain how much I’ve grown as an artist because of my three years there already. The biggest thing was just making an animation. It’s always the first semester you take a bunch of classes and do a lot of assignments, then second semester it’s like “Ok. Now make an animation. GO!” and you get tossed into an ocean and allowed to do whatever you want or whatever it takes to make a short film.
It’s really scary, but I don’t think there’s anything else that would have taught me so much than just going and doing something on my own and not having any limitations in what or how I do it. When I first came to CalArts and was told I’d have to make an animation every year I remember thinking “What? Me? Okay maybe you other geniuses can do that, but there’s no way I can ever make an animation by myself!” And now, three years later I have three completed animations under my belt (my latest one is called “Story Time Confessions“)! “Vampire Gastelbrau” recently even won “Best Animation” in The Light Factory’s Filmmakers’ Showcase. Crazy!
TP: I am particularly fond of your “Vegetable Kids” series. Can you tell me more about these adorable characters? How did you come up with their concept? Which of these little squirts is your favorite?
HA: Haha! Well… I just love vegetables! I love vegetables probably more than most normal human beings do. They’re just so wonderful and cute and colorful and fun and there’s so much variety to them (not to mention they are tasty roasted in olive oil). You know those vegetable plush toys from Ikea? Better believe I got em all on my bed.
I took a character design class last fall and my teacher, Phil Rynda, gave an assignment to create characters based on flowers, and I asked if I could do veggies instead. I made them kids because kids are just fun to draw. (I was also thinking about the term “nursery” and how it can apply to both a garden and a place where kids are taken care of) As far as which one is my favorite…probably the lanky little cucumber lad. He’s cool (get it? get it?).
TP: If there was any art medium that you wish you could master, what would it be and why?
HA: I wish I was a real master with real watercolors. There are SOOOO many cool things you can do with watercolor if you take the time out to practice and explore with it.
TP: Outside of art, what is your life like?
HA: Well, before I am an artist, I am a Christian. God created me, and He gave me any ability and desire I have for art. “Nothing is my own” (1 Cor 6:19-20). He gave Christ to be sacrificed for my life; so I want to be able to give my life back to Him by serving Him through the gifts He gave me. I really want my identity to be found in Christ before it is found in animation, though it can be hard to make that statement in the entertainment industry.
I’m hoping that I can use my art to reflect that in some kind of ministry someday. My roommate and I are about to start a blog that’ll be dedicated to dwelling on God, theology and thankfulness. I go to Grace Community Church and I really super dig Charles Spurgeon (google him, he’s pretty cute. And he has two pugs. What’s not to like?).
I am absolutely disgustingly crazy in love with my dog, Momotaro, Momo for short (named after my favorite Japanese folk hero “Peach Boy”; also he is small and fuzzy like a peach). He’s my little pekingese. Seriously, it’s really obnoxious how much I love him (but if you met him you would understand why, ok? He’s the best). I love biking. I will kick your butt at Just Dance 2 + 3. Right now I’m spending my first summer in an apartment in Valencia instead of going home to Houston to see my family like I usually do.
I’d like to spend my time now drawing and brainstorming all these ideas I have, but I’ve been in such a lazy slump lately. I’ve been a vegetarian for a few months now, and pretty much the only things that keep me from being vegan are frozen yogurt, goat cheese, and sushi. I love watching all those food documentaries on Netflix.
TP: What are your goals in life? Do you plan to continue art as a hobby or make it a career?
HA: My secret dream is to marry a farmer and live on a farm like in Babe and just grow tomatoes and draw funny pictures on my blog for all of my days. But more realistically…I’m just going to work on seeing if I can get hired by a studio. I’d like to work in storyboarding or character design. I’ve only got one more semester left of school which is really exciting…hopefully I’ll get hired somewhere soon!
TP: Do you feel that your culture has influenced you in some way that makes you different than other artists?
HA: Hmm…I never thought about it. I wouldn’t say I had a super, significantly different upbringing than most other people. I did get to travel overseas a few times which were great experiences, though.