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Hannah Stouffer

A Fine Balance

Chances are you've seen Hannah Stouffer's artwork before. Her lustrous illustrations have gained her an impressive client list. Stouffer's work covers everything from Sims snowboards to Comme de Garcons wallets and everything in between. While the commercial world has been good, Stouffer continues her career as a fine artist, as well.

Stouffer recalls making art from an early age in Aspen, where she grew up with her “Wild America” father and “modern-day hippy” mother. Funny enough, her descriptions of her mother and father could be combined to describe Stouffer's illustrations.

“I made some amazing art when I was a kid,” says Stouffer. “Believe it or not, it was insanely dark and had a lot to do with animals, black hearts, and crying children.”

Her works continues to feature many animals, vibrant splashes of color and intricate line drawings.

After living in San Francisco for six years, and trying Los Angeles for two years, she finds herself back in the Bay Area, producing art out of her studio garage in Oakland.

Stouffer is a full-time artist who says she works all day, everyday. Her self-taught artist process includes, “research and forget, trial and error, learning through doing, and a little magic,” Stouffer says.

Her first commercial work came as a huge surprise. Stouffer says she got an unexpected phone call about doing an ad campaign for Ortho Evra, a company that produces birth-control patches. She produced a digitally rendered ink illustration for Otho Evra that was printed in numerous magazines, which earned her much respect as an illustrator.

“I definitely feel lucky,” Stouffer says. “It was so bizarre — the ‘pay your rent for a year’ kind of job.”

Stouffer says she never really thought of herself as anything but an artist. And although she's made it in the commercial world with clients like Nike, American Express and even rap music artist Ludacris, she is still all freelance and fine art.

“I still go through months of trying to sell everything I have to pay rent, but then other times I'm buying rounds for the whole bar,” Stouffer says. “I think that's all just part of living in the moment and being a freelance artist.”

On the finer art side, Stouffer's work is currently up as part of a group show at A440 Gallery in the 49 Geary building. Stouffer is also working on a new body of work that is, “heavily based on our attempts to control fate and destiny through religion, traditional ritual and magic,” she says. She is branching out and looking to create installations as well as video work for this show.

“The truth is, I lead a pretty simple life: art store, studio, draw, walk in the park, a trip to the 24-hour Walgreen's, whiskey — Repeat,” she says.