Get to know our friend Hope McConnell
Tauranga artist Hope McConnell from Hope McConnell Creative. Hope has held a paintbrush in her hand since the age of two and now applies her creativity to the design industry. Hope believes the role of illustration and design is to bring visual goodness to others, and that’s her goal with every piece of work she produces. Renowned and recognisable for her bold colours, Hope is inspired by fashion, food and loved ones.
What is your artist background?
I have been working professionally in the creative industry for 5 years now, a large portion of that has been working in illustration.
What city in New Zealand do you live?
Tauranga, Bay of Plenty.
Have you lived in any other city in New Zealand, if so which cities?
I studied Design in Auckland and lived there for 3 years, I loved getting to live life in a big city!
When did you start doing your art?
Ever since I was a young kid I have always been drawing and creating, I wanted to work creatively for as long as I can remember! Initially I was convinced I was going to do fashion design, but ended up pursuing design and illustration instead.
When did you start your entrepreneur journey?
At the end of 2020 I decided to quit my agency job. It was a huge leap of faith but I felt I needed work where I could fully harness and express my creativity, and its been an amazing journey so far!
How do you describe your artwork style?
Bright, colourful, and joyous. I think my work is always a celebration of something, whether that be nature, people and relationships, food, or small moments that make life fun!
Have you always done your field of art or was there other types of art that you have done? If so, what types?
I loved fashion and textiles and did a lot of work around screen printing and felting when I was studying. I think eventually I might bring my love of illustration and fashion together somehow, we shall see!
What is the ideal environment for you when creating your artwork?
Oooh, I have to be in a creative environment to be creative I think. I love being surrounded by inspiring books and prints, lots of plants, but with a great big desk space for me to work on! I love my huge desk in my home studio, and usually I'll light a candle, make a hot drink and just go into my happy place.
Who is your hero? And why?
My mum, nana and Grandma are all super creative in their own individual ways and have always used that creativity to bless others and bring them joy, and I find that is super inspiring.
What values are important to you?
Generosity, kindness and joy are all values that I try to incorporate into my life and work. I also really value celebration and celebrating life, I think we don't celebrate enough here in NZ! So many incredible things happen all the time and I think it is so important to hero those moments and really focus on the positive milestones in life, no matter how big or small.
Any advice for aspiring NZ artists?
Don't be afraid to start and once you start, just make a whole tonne of work! Take on as many projects as you can in the beginning, as every project or piece of work you do will help you understand what you love to do and what your style is. Also, creating the work you want to get has been key for me! When I started out I made a bunch of personal projects for made up clients/briefs that was in line with the kind of work I wanted to get. I have had soooo many jobs come in from people who have seen my personal projects and wanted to employ me to make similar stuff for them!
What was the inspiration behind your artwork for your PieceHouse puzzle?
A reflection of some of my favourite things in life. I love a good dinner party, what's better than friends, fashion, food and celebration! Hope is the artist that created the Ladies Who Lunch puzzle, which you can view here.
What do you do to help keep your mental health in a positive place?
Balance is so key. Every small block you slot into your day builds a framework for a healthy mind space. It can get tough working from home, especially as an extrovert! So making sure I schedule in time outdoors, good, nourishing food, movement, time with loved ones and creative projects that don't have anything to do with my work all add up to a much happier, healthier me. Which means I will do better work!