Member Spotlight: An Interview with Artist Hanna Lee Joshi

Member Spotlights are an on-going series of interviews with people from our community! You can learn more about becoming a member hereFor this instalment we introduce Vancouver-based artist Hanna Lee Joshi.


Jeff Hamada: What was your go-to thing to draw as a kid?

Hanna Lee Joshi: As as kid, I drew a lot of my daily life, family members and princesses. I also drew a lot of Pokémon. As an immigrant kid, I didn’t speak a word of english when I came to Canada and Pokémon was a hit on TV. It was my only way to connect with my new peers.

JH: Great way to learn English! Which cartoons were your favourites?

HLJ: I grew up on Inspector Gadget, TMNT, Sailor Moon, Legend of Zorro, Pokémon. Also every film made by Studio Ghibli and tons of Korean animation from the 80s.


JH: Who’s your favourite character from a Ghibli film?

HLJ: Kiki! I see a lot of parallels between her character arc and a lot of what artists go through. I even bought a cel frame of Kiki and Jiji from the Ghibli museum!

JH: I loved visiting that museum! Can you remember the first piece of art you bought (or were given)?

HLJ: One of my first art purchase was a print by my friend Andrea Wan. I regret getting a print and not an original.

JH: You have two different styles, both are really distinct, can you talk a little bit about that?

HLJ: My style evolved from starting to explore my identity, emotions and self reflection of life experiences. I made a lot of figurative art channeling what I was feeling. I started treating my art as a therapeutic outlet and some things felt easier to express as an abstraction. A person is so much more than just the physical body. The mind, energy, consciousness coming into play all add up. They are both my attempts at trying to explore the human experience.

JH: They definitely feel like two halves of the same thing. So you’ll continue to create work in both directions?

HLJ: Yeah! I feel like my style is constantly evolving and I’m okay to let it flow in whichever path it takes.

JH: You recently painted your first mural as part of the Vancouver Mural Festival, how was that experience, having people watch you while you work?

HLJ: It was an amazing experience. The festival team, crew and volunteers are incredible! It’s not often that I get to work that big and using real paint. I usually work on the computer and scaling up made for a real physical challenge. It was tiring but also very fulfilling at the end of the day to see progress on the larger than life canvas come together. Trying to replicate some of my techniques that are so quick and familiar in digital, took a lot of patient iteration and experimenting with unusual brushes from the cleaning sections of the dollar store.

I’m quite shy about showing my unfinished work. I often wanted to hide my work in progress as people walked by or chatted with me but it was really nice to get instant feedback and see so many enthusiastic mural festival fans making their rounds to see the progress before it was all done.

JH: Do you feel like you’re doing now is what you were born to do?

HLJ: Oh that’s a heavy question! In a sense, yes. I don’t know what else I would rather do. I am trying to enjoy this journey of seeking creative fulfilment and trying to make a living from it.

JH: What’s something you hope to accomplish this year?

HLJ: I am hoping to create a really wacky short film and explore an augmented reality experience that ties in with some of my art.

JH: And what about in your lifetime?

HLJ: World peace… Oh wait I meant inner peace.

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