Nurture the artist inside you – an interview with Samantha Hahn

Samantha Hahn is a Brooklyn-based illustrator, creative director, and author. If you are someone who wants to pursue your creative vision, while also earning a living and raising a family, then you have to listen to what Samantha shares.

I was blown away by how she balanced so many practical aspects of developing her career and working within the marketplace, along with the ways that she stays inspired and nurtures her personal and creative needs.

When I researched her background in preparing for the interview, I realized why: growing up, her mother was a commercial artist, and her father worked in the music industry. It’s as if her childhood had been an apprenticeship at the crux of creativity and commerce. There is so much to learn from her experience!

As I went through the recording of our conversation, I kept coming back to these two quotes from Samantha — how they balance two critical sides of what it means to be a creative professional:

  • “Nurturing the artist inside you is an essential part of the creative process.”
  • “There is always this fear that you are standing on a precipice, and that any moment, you can completely fall off. I don’t want to be driven by fear, but to be a commercial artist, there does need to be that hustle attitude. If you don’t have a constant output of work, the industry is a moving freight train, and it is going to pass you by.”

Ooomph. Listening to Samantha is like taking a masterclass in developing your career and your artistic vision. Here is some of what we discuss in our chat:

  • Getting comfortable with discomfort while building a creative career
  • The art of serving clients and still carving out time for creative projects
  • The attitude working artists need in order to stay focused and relevant
  • The healthy habit of getting outdoors
  • How she manages her days while working from home, with a spouse who works from home as well
  • How becoming a parent has changed how she defines success
  • How “artists have an itch that cant be scratched” that constantly drives them forward as they seek to realize their creative vision
  • The challenge of balancing one’s identity with “accolades, or social media followers, approval from the outside world”
  • Why she needs to be malleable because the industry is always changing
  • How she manages time with her family, focusing on essentials for profession, family, and personal fulfillment.
  • How she characterizes how social media effects revenue for a creative professional: “We use social media as our way of sharing our work. That is where you need to separate your true identify from how you are perceived. I have seen artists who have an astronomical amount of followers, and I don’t necessarily see that it translates to a huge amount of work commercially. And I have seen people with stunning work, who don’t have a lot of followers. It’s not as simple as how many followers you have translates to how successful you are.”
  • How she refills her creative well of inspiration
  • Why communication skills are key for her professional collaborations
  • How she views books as a side project that stems from her personal passions, even if they are a tremendous amount of work
  • Why she says, “You have to learn to be comfortable with discomfort.”
  • Her thoughts on social media: “It is so beautiful how social media can connect me with artists across the world.”

You can find Samantha in the following places:
Her books:

Note: this interview was recorded a little while back, so her kids are a bit older now, and she has been focusing more of her attention on her creative direction work in addition to illustration.