According to Aley Hanson, freelance illustration is not for the faint of heart. “It’s hard,” wrote Hansen in a recent Instagram post, “but for those who love it more than any other thing, it’s worth it.”
Hansen knows a thing or two about hard work and dedication. Having studied illustration, for years she put her passion aside thinking she wasn’t talented enough.
It was only after spending 9 days in silent meditation in 2018 that she came to the realization that illustration is her true passion and calling. “Since that moment I’ve been hungrily developing my skills and style, and I’m so grateful for this vocation and the privilege of being able to pursue it,” writes Hansen.
Nowadays, Hansen encourages her followers to find strength in vulnerability and courage in self-love. “The magic ingredient to creating is believing in yourself and your creative power,” she reflected once in a candid interview with The Design Kids.
“It took some time for that to land with me, and once I did my creativity took off. When I start to trash talk myself (as we all do), I stop, look in a mirror and say ‘I have a strong creative voice’. It’s super dorky and it works. Gotta feel your own work for others to feel it too.”
This sense of optimism and perseverance also shows throughout her work. Her illustrations—colorful, naïve, and unapologetically wonky—spark instant joy, gaining an impressive following online. Describing her style as “neo-primitive,” Hansen’s work, simple as it is, has an iconic quality to it.
“Even your weaknesses lead you to create in a unique way,” says Hansen. “And if you’re conscious of them, you can push them to play to your advantage.” Follow her creative journey on Instagram.