An Interview With Illustrator Hasani Browne
Editors Note: Illustrator Hasani Browne was born in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and now lives in Brooklyn. Did you know Brooklyn is technically part of Long Island? It is. 🙂 That makes Hasani an island girl, times two. We’re delighted to debut Hasani’s art in Rainbow Crow: poems in and out of form. She’s a whimsical artist with a heart of gold!
L.L. Barkat (LB): You’re an artist who works in a lot of mediums. Could you tell us what they are? Do you prefer any particular ones over the others? Or is it all about the project and what the project asks for?
Hasani Browne (HB): It’s definitely all about what the project asks from me, and then I find a medium that I think best suits what the project wants to say.
Sometimes I won’t have the medium or combination of mediums yet to apply to a project, then I will learn a new medium and I’ll know exactly the project I need to use it for.
Some of the ways I’ve come to express myself are through sculpting, drawing, painting, illustrating or collaging on the computer, print-making (intaglio & screen-print), costume-making, writing and embroidery.
I think I’ve enjoyed intaglio the most for its beautiful medium (copper) and how complex the print-making process can be; but I’ve had fun with all the mediums I’ve tried.
LB: You attended SUNY Purchase as a Graphic Design major with a minor in Art History. Did you ever think you’d be illustrating a children’s book? What in your education prepared you for the experience?
HB: As a designer who took many printmaking courses at SUNY Purchase, I had the pleasure of creating small books and zines that I still treasure today. Mapping those stories out and developing the characters that live in those worlds helped me with illustrating this book.
I also love children books (books in general); The Little Prince and many of Roald Dahl’s works shaped a lot of my thinking as a child and as an adult. To make something I know could bring a child joy and that they could remember as they grow was a great experience.
LB: Tell us a little about where you grew up. Did island life find its way into this collection of illustrations on any level?
HB: I was born in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and I think the brightness of color and the playfulness of my island upbringing both come forth in this collection of illustrations, because I hold those dear in all parts of my life.
LB: Do you have a favorite illustration in Rainbow Crow? If so, which is it and why?
HB: My favorite illustration is the moment the crow takes the soul from the sleeping girl. It can easily read as a dark concept but I think it’s really gentle. I wanted to translate the crow’s kindness in the action through how peaceful the girl looks in that instant.
LB: You’re currently living in Brooklyn. How is life there shaping your art?
HB: Life in Brooklyn [on Long Island] juxtaposed to my early island life is quite busy and immediate, but it influences my art through the bonds I make here. My chosen family are my muses and my mentors, and I’m looking forward to making more art with them.
LB: Think “artist’s dream come true.” What would that look like for you?
HB: My artist dream come alive would be to continue to make art freely about all the truths I inhabit and to continue making art with the people I love.
LB: If you could encourage a young artist, what would you say?
HB: I would say make the art that challenges you always, whether that be in medium or subject. That can be difficult, so always take time to rest and go at your own pace. Things that matter to you can require a lot of patience and diligence, but hold fast.
LB: Okay, this is Tweetspeak Poetry, so we want to ask . Do you have a favorite poem or poet, or both? Do tell.
// poems by nayyirah waheed, from salt, chosen by tweetspeak as samples //
you broke the ocean in
half to be here.
only to meet nothing that wants you.
want it to.
my first country.
the first place I ever lived.
Sara Barkat (SB): How did you come up with the character design/clothing for the girl?
I dressed the girl in her favorite nightgown, which I assume she’s always wearing because that’s how I was about my favorite things as a child. I thought it would be fitting for her to cross over wearing something she loved.
SB: Do you have an artistic project you’re working on now?
HB: I have no artistic projects I’m working on right now but I’m feeling very inspired. Hopefully these musings will come to life soon, but till then I’ll continue to rest and explore them quietly.
Photo by Tony Guyton, Creative Commons, via Flickr.
Browse children’s poetry
“Megan Willome has captured the essence of crow in this delightful children’s collection. Not only do the poems introduce the reader to the unusual habits and nature of this bird, but also different forms of poetry as well.”
—Michelle Ortega, poet and children’s speech pathologist