Hannah Gumbo incorporates fun and whimsy into each of her artistic creations. Whether it is a 43 foot “Legacy Barn Mural” designed to tell the story of a beloved family member, a commissioned piece which captures the essence of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s My Favorite Things, or illustrations for children’s book, The Book That Wanted To Be Red written by Jerica Guillory, Hannah Gumbo’s signature leaves a colorful imprint on beautifully designed art that is one of a kind.
A Lafayette native, Hannah was homeschooled until she entered high school when she encountered visual art teacher, Kathy Reed, who she credits for inspiring her and many other Acadiana artists. Reed would take her students on field trips and invite area artists to come to school to share their passion for design. Hannah realized through Reed’s example and nurturing that art and expression were paths worth pursuing. While she never thought she would “work” as an artist, she looked at art classes as a gift and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from UL – Lafayette with a concentration in painting & printmaking. And, ‘art’ is definitely her day job and passion!
Hannah’s work has evolved since she graduated and while she was trained to paint and draw, she joking said that her worst grade was in digital art. Ironically, today she incorporates digital art into most of her designs. Hannah uses a Wacom, which is akin to large iPad, and hops back and forth from sketches on paper and on the digital pen drawing tablet. The device allows Hannah to scale her drawings and try different colors as she works with her clients and tries out different colors and effects before finalizing the ultimate design.
Hannah’s desire is to make art fun and easy, more accessible, and less intimidating to people. She loves public art because it is available to all to enjoy. She tells people, “Don’t worry about dissecting art intellectually….ask yourself, ‘How do you feel about it?”
COVID has affected Hannah just as it has so many other artists experiencing the cancellation of so many festivals and outdoor markets. Yet this time has also afforded an opportunity to indulge herself with a “Passion Project.” Inspired by 100 Day Projects of other artists, she created the “Sunday Hairies” and committed to create 100 watercolor and gel pen portraits of original and iconic hairstyles sported by celebrities. Sold on Etsy, she released seven new portraits each Sunday.
Making a living as a freelance artist entails wearing a lot of hats, and Hannah has learned that one of the most important is communicating clearly when defining expectations of the end result. She’s learned to clarify what the client is envisioning prior to completing the final product to ensure that everyone is happy at the end of the day when the project is complete. “The silver lining is that I really get to know people and bring their visions to life.”
Hannah and her husband plan to travel more as they both work remotely from home. Her family instilled a love of travel and they have been in competition to see who could be the first to travel to all fifty states. While Hannah has been to 49 states, her parents beat her out about a month ago as they checked off travel to all 50 states! Rather than “work, work than travel,” her goal is to work while traveling to gain daily inspiration from scenery enjoyed outside of Louisiana. However, she was adamant that Louisiana is her favorite state out of all fifty!
When asked about her advice to other artists who dream of making a living off their art, she shared her own experience of learning the hard way that it’s not personal, but that not everyone would love her work. She first slowly tiptoed into the marketplace by integrating her art into sales of “safe things” such as bath bombs at farmers’ markets, where she could have her art available to show but not placed front and center. Putting herself out there allowed her to draw people into her world and her art. She now wants to “attract the people who are “into her work and want to bring their visions to life.
We thank Hannah Gumbo for her inspiration and sage wisdom. You make the world a more beautiful and fun place!