Stationary & Style: An Interview with Hanna Nation of GADABOUT Have you ever opened up your mailbox to find a handwritten note? The act of sending a card in the mail is a blissful event for both the writer and receiver. Hanna Nation, owner of the stationary business GADABOUT, is making sure her clients say hello and thank you in style.
Hanna's stationary illustrations include a number of designs that center on fashion. In this interview we talk about her ties to the DC area, her inspirations, and how her stationary is merging with technology.
True to Style: Your stationary has a variety of designs, but there are quite a few that focus on fashion. Can you talk about your relationship to fashion?
Hanna Nation: I have always felt drawn to those objects in life that define us: the books you read, the music you listen to, the trips you take, the friends you keep and I find fashion and personal style among that group. Clothes are so wonderful to me because they can just as easily remind me where I have been, but also take me somewhere I want to go. That feeling of possibility has always reminded me of my company definition and I hope will always be present in my illustrations.
TTS: How would you describe your personal style?
Hanna: On most days, casually put together or a blend of tailored classics and trendy accessories. I am most appreciative of exotic colors, interesting patterns, and simple shapes that I often end up choosing outfits that make room for all three: sleeved shift dresses in vibrant colors and simple sandals, a loose silk tops with black matchstick pants, men's button downs with eclectic necklaces...
TTS: I love that your clothing designs cover so many different types of looks. Did you set out to cover such a wide variety (was it a part of a larger plan), or do you find that your interests meandered in such a way that it covered lots of different types of styles?
Hanna: I would love to say I had the opportunity to make a larger plan, but I didn't. The varying types of clothing designs have all come from an attempt to capture a cultural destination or bring an adjective to an outfit. Because my own interests are so varied, I think that accounts for so many different styles.
TTS: Your stationary products all come with a story. Some of them are literary – you make a reference to The Great Gatsby – but, some of the styles are based on a location like Dubai. Can you tell us a little bit about your process? Do you think of a word or concept first and then draw it? Or do you start sketching and then match it to a story?
Hanna: My designs have come to me in so many different ways and in so many different places that I think it would be impossible to have just one illustrative process. Some started off on small notepad in my purse, or were ridiculous ramblings on the pages of my Moleskin agenda. Others were designed more deliberately. I have just as much of a chance to start sketching and settling on a story by the time it is finished as I do discovering a place or word that encourages a design.
TTS: As a DC person I was so happy to find that you have gotten so much coverage in DC-based publications like Capital Hill Style, Inspiration DC, and most recently with The Washingtonian. Any guesses to why your work has struck a chord with a DC audience?
Hanna: I am so humbled that my work has been welcomed by those publications, each one was an incredible and distinctive experience for me. Having attended Episcopal High School, a boarding school right outside of the city, I have such fond memories there. It was the first place I began to dream of GADABOUT and I know that's in large part to the city itself. My only guess for my coverage would be that DC resonates with culture and most of my illustrations have cultural tie-ins. Whatever the reason, I am thrilled for it.
TTS: What made you decide to start your own business?
Hanna: Wanting to surround myself with objects that truly make me happy.
TTS: Your business offers an iPhone and iPad app that people can download in order to send “stationary” through email or texts. Can you talk about your decision to go in a technological direction with your stationary while offering more traditional products?
Hanna: There is very little I cherish more than a proper invitation or well-written thank you note. From all of the gorgeous paper out there to the generosity of time to create them, there is truly nothing better. My choice to move in a technological direction was my way of bringing a bit of thoughtfulness and design to those everyday events where there isn't enough time for a formal invitation or you need a quick way to say thank you.
TTS: What’s next for GADABOUT?
Hanna: Hopefully there will be alot of fun projects going on at GADABOUT in 2011. I am currently working on creating a children's line for the spring and could not be more excited about it! Adjusting my current designs for prints you can frame is another project that will be on the website soon. Beyond that, I would love to get the opportunity to expand my existing graphic design and brand consultant services. I feel most myself when I collaborate with someone with a creative vision and enthusiasm for whats to come.
Many thanks to Hanna for talking with us about fashion and her business! For more information on GADABOUT go here.