Henrietta Harris is a talented young lady whose art expands the world. From Paris, to Miami, to little New Zealand, her work has travelled the world to critical acclaim. It’s not just about painting and illustration though, top fashion icons such as Karen Walker and Vans are transforming her beautiful unique style from hallway to runway. Henrietta tells us how she has debunked the struggling artist stereotype to become one of New Zealand’s top fine artists.[images src=”http://theunimpossibles.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/sophie-back-henrietta-harris.jpg” title=”‘Sophie Back’ by Henrietta Harris, 2014″ caption=”‘Sophie Back’ by Henrietta Harris, 2014″ url=””] Name: Henrietta Harris
What did you study and what was your original intended career path?
I studied Fine Arts at AUT, it’s all going to plan thankfully.
Give us a brief background on your career to date:
I started seriously teaching myself how to properly draw and paint after uni, and did a bunch of gig posters and the like for years. I put on a bunch of solo shows myself, and kept up with the fine art stuff as well as editorial illustration. I got an agent in Paris in 2012 and an agent in NZ in 2013, and signed to a gallery in the States early 2013.
Often the view of artists is that they are starving, did this view affect your decision to become an illustrator? If so, how did you get over it?
It was my thinspiration (jk). I went to Japan and visited friends, one of who was freelance. He was constantly worried about money but I was encouraged by him taking that leap at a seemingly difficult time in his life (work-wise) and knew that it was what I wanted to do. I got over it by working hard and it sort of fell into place.
What are some of the most exciting parts of being an illustrator?
I think of myself more as an artist but creating pictures to fit a brief is always exciting, getting what’s in your head onto paper. Creating work never stops being exciting.
Whats been some of the biggest challenges for you?
Obviously having to learn how to be careful with money as you don’t always know when the next payment is coming in. The biggest challenge may actually be learning how to take care of myself physically as well- painting all day is not good for the back and wrists and I’ve had to slow down this year which has been hard and miserable but I am taking way more breaks now which is IMPORTANT.
Well it’s a natural progression as I find myself working on different ideas which turn into a body of work and then the next step is to showcase that to an audience. They’re very important, giving people a platform to view your work which isn’t just a screen.
What are some other ways to use to get your name out there? Is social media a relevant channel for you?
I use social media a lot, it seems silly not to as it’s relatively free and reaches all corners of the earth. Also sending out postcards to people is a good thing to do, if it’s good enough they’ll definitely keep it and contact you with appropriate jobs.
You have a beautiful way of deconstructing the face and you’re often described as a surrealist – how did you develop this style?
I had to make a poster for the musician Ariel Pink but nothing was really portraying his music in the way that I wanted it to so I came up with the idea of swiping his eyes out, making it glitchy and slightly abstract. Doing this inspired me to take it further so I kept at it and it took off.
It’s different for each client. Karen Walker was inspired by my work for a design and I’ve worked closely with Ruby and Liam on a number of things, included a print for next year. Kathryn Wilson gave me free reign to design a painting which had to include one of her shoes, so it’s always a different process! [line][pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]Don’t work for free. People still don’t put enough value on creatives.[/pullquote] [line]
What advice would you give to someone wanting to be an illustrator for a living?
Don’t work for free. People still don’t put enough value on creatives. Once I got told I have an attitude problem because I (politely) asked for payment in money form instead of instagram promotion. (?!??!??!?!?!??!)
What would you say to your 21 year old self?
Come on mate
What person dead or alive would you invite to a dinner party and why?
My nephew, I have dinner with him every week and it never stops being hilarious.