Illustration student sees the light

Garbed in a denim jacket and brushstroke-styled floral skirt, senior Megan Hansen is a vivacious artist in the John Brown University Art and Illustration department.

Megan Hansen has a deep personal affinity for fantasy, philosophy and Greek mythology. Art professor Peter Pohle, who has personally advised her through three years of art classes, encourages her diverse style.

“I had her in comic book class,” Pohle said. “I noticed a lot of creativity, a lot of interesting ideas. She’s very bubbly and positive.”

Whether it is academic art projects or merely embellishing her own personal belongings, Hansen infuses her environment with her way of “communicating stories.”

“I paint things like my ukulele or my pillow or my longboard because I feel like my things aren’t mine until I change them and make them mine,” Hansen said.

Hansen does not have a preferred medium for art because she considers anything a viable means of communicating stories. For one particular assignment, Pohle required students to use a different medium to represent the seven deadly sins. Hansen used fabric to create masks.

“She made them all by hand, painted them, used fabric,” Pohle said. “It was quite nice,” Pohle said.

Hansen’s penchant for unorthodox expression is inspired from many different sources, some more obvious than others. “Practically and honestly, I’m inspired by Pinterest,” she said. “As far as subject matter, fantasy creatures like fairies and mermaids. The ocean. Flowers. Greek mythology. I grew up with those things.”

In addition to Pinterest, Hansen’s online presence extends to forums, creative communities and even her own website.

Pohle said he has a hard time pinning down Hansen’s artistic style. Instead, he recognizes her willingness to explore new concepts.

“She was the only one who was not afraid to try something new or challenging,” Pohle said. “She would not hide in her shell, she took risks.”

“I feel like I experiment more than most artists do. I’ve heard that one of the best things is to have a strong style and sense of consistency, and I definitely don’t have that. One of my favorite mediums right now is gouache. I tried it out last year and it blew my mind,” Hansen said. “Oils might be my favorite all-time because of the thickness and texture in paintings. Oil is such a rich experience. It stains my hands for a couple of days, but they take forever to dry, so I don’t use them a lot. Also, sharpies, but I use them less on paper and more on me.”

While most artists seem to begin creating at an early age, Hansen never fails to bev an exception to the rule.

“My art had a very clear beginning. I didn’t start drawing, like Michaelangelo, at three years old. When the movie Tangled came out, I loved it.” Hansen said.

After Hansen walked out of the movie theater, she was obsessed. “I’ve always done things with my hands and I was homeschooled,” Hansen said. “I tried all sorts of hobbies, never sticking to one thing. Pottery to embroidery . . . once the obsession wore off, I just kept drawing.”

To set her further apart, Hansen also has a controversial philosophy on art.

“Good art is the pinnacle of two things: creativity and technical skill. You cannot have art that is one thing and not the other. Creativity without technical skill is like children’s finger paintings or modern art,” Hansen said. “I know that’s controversial, but postmodern art is not art so much as visual philosophy. I don’t think it should be in the same category as art.”

Hansen also has thoughts on the reverse scenario. “Something that involves technical skill without creativity is photorealistic drawings. I definitely see they are excellent at their craft, but artists have to interpret what is known in order for it to be art.”

Hansen said her initial attraction to JBU was based on the school’s emphasis on both art and academics.

“I love that this campus has the Arties. I knew from the get-go that I wanted to be an Illustration major because it would enable me to tell stories,” Hansen said. Hansen identified storytelling as her primary artistic motivation. “One of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten was from Professor Pohle during Figure Drawing. He snuck up behind me and said, ‘You’re just a natural storyteller.’ I glowed for a week.”

Hansen’s plans span concepts and continents alike. “Two of my biggest dreams are to do concept art for an animation studio or game design,” she said. “I would also love to illustrate children’s books. For immediate plans, I’ve thought extensively, since the art trip to Paris, of teaching art and English in Paris and studying at the Louvre for a year or two.”

Noah Franz – Lifestyles Editor