Surprisingly… I’ve realised that a number of people are curious about my creative process.  

And folk seem to have quite a few questions about the all the how’s and what’s involved in what I do.

I write “surprisingly” because I’ve spent most of my life just assuming that all this shit is *obvious*…  I mean;  doesn’t everyone do it this way?

Isn’t this y’know… kinda normal… for everyone?


Oh… okay then.  If you really are interested…

… (seriously?  this really interests you??)…

…then here’s some FAQ’s about my creative process, inspirations, tools and what-not…

Where did you study?

Short answer?

I didn’t.  Everything I do is self-taught… from art to music and beyond.

I flunked out of high-school.  Didn’t go to university.  Didn’t go to art school.  Don’t have degrees, credentials or certificates.  Nothing.  Nada.  Nix.


How did you learn to draw?

I just loved drawing.  And I loved painting.  And I loved it for as long as I can remember.   Nobody taught me ‘how’ to draw.  I just drew… and my parents let me.  And my mother encouraged me.   It’s simply who I am… it’s what I do… it’s my MUCH’ness.

Here’s an early photo of me doing what I do:

Hat the Artist


What art materials do you prefer working with?

This question would be easier if you were asking what materials I don’t enjoy working with.

As with seemingly everything in life, design and values… I love diversity.  And I love experimenting and trying new things.  This means that everything is up-for-grabs and worth-a-try.

That said… I’m drawn more to some media than others.

  • I don’t like painting with oils.  Firstly because I’m impatient (and oil paint take ages to dry).  Secondly because it’s a schlep to clean the brushes.   Thirdly, because I don’t like the smell.
  • I don’t like working with chalk or dusty pastels.
  • I also don’t like painting on canvas.  Too much *give*.  I prefer painting on solid surfaces.
  • Speaking of surfaces… I enjoy painting or drawing on practically anything.  As long as it’s solid.
  • I paint big things on walls (like this)… or teeny-tiny, intricate illustrations (like this).   I also really enjoy digital-art (like this).   Again – it’s all about diversity for me.  I need vast amounts of new’ness in my life to stay happy and sane.
  • If I’m drawing smaller pictures (like illustrations for my books), I use a combination of watercolour pencils, watercolour paints, inks, Copic markers, acrylic paint and liner pens (that don’t bleed when water is added).
  • If I’m painting big things (like wall art)… I enjoy acrylic paint, quality spray paint (water-based and stink-free) – and oftentimes I’ll use oil pastels to scribble on top of everything.
  • I collect scraps of paper, old photos, old newspaper clippings, old postcards & letters… and a whole bunch of other random stuff.  I use them in my art journals & artist’s books.
  • I like mixing things up.  So… I’ll snap some photos – and then draw on them (or paint on them).  Or I’ll create an intricate pencil drawing… and then rip it into shreds to use as part of a larger collage.  Or I’ll compose a song… and then create a painting *for* the song.  Or I’ll write a poem… and then create some kind of visual or musical extension.
What references do you use?

I don’t use references.  I don’t draw what I see – I draw what I feel and I draw what’s inside of me.  I just let what’s (inside) of me… come out.  My hands are a conduit.  I often say:  “What comes out the hand… comes out the hand”.

Most of the time – it changes daily.  I don’t plan it – I don’t know what to expect… I just let it come.

The same is true of music.  I can’t read sheet music.  When I play the piano – I play what I feel.  I express what I feel… and the hands are just a conduit for that expression.

In all of my (many) forms of creative expression… it’s simply about tapping into a deep pool (some call it The Muse)… and just letting it out, letting it flow… letting it be… letting it express in the most authentic way possible.

It might sound a bit woo.  But, yes.  Well.

What art inspires you?

I am inspired and moved by an infinite range of artists, creators, makers and storytellers.

I’m an AND person (not an OR person).

  • Classical music AND jazz…
  • Bright ‘n happy musicals AND bloody thrillers…
  • Quirky little illustrations of bunnies AND dark, disturbing paintings of death…
  • Classical AND contemporary…
  • Fiction AND non-fiction…

On and on it goes.  One of my core values is my love of diversity.  I just love that we’re all so diverse… so colourful, different and interesting in our own unique way.  Perhaps that’s why I also genuinely enjoy and appreciate  an infinitely wide range of art, music, film, fashion, theatre, design and literature.

When it comes to other creative creatures, I’m drawn to those who are able to express themselves authentically and who aren’t afraid of exposing themselves or sharing their vulnerabilities with the world.  Those who aren’t ashamed of weakness.  Those who aren’t pretending to have their shit together.  Those who aren’t wearing forced, plastic smiles.

And I really love the little imperfections.  I get bored when things are too ‘perfect’… too ‘slick’… too clinical.. too measured.  I am moved and inspired by art-with-flaws… creations that are a little bit worn, torn, cracked, nuanced, bruised or scarred.

Art that’s… true… to the artist.  Where you feel as though you’re being allowed a teensy glimpse into their minds, their struggles, their triumphs, their emotions… their mad ideas.

I find the most interesting kinds of people are those who carry scars…  those who walk with a limp (metaphorically speaking).  I’m attracted to them (and their stories) because they’ve survived a struggle of some kind… they’ve experienced something difficult and painful and they’ve learned from it.

Can I commission you to draw something for me?

Yes… with the understanding that;

I only accept commissions where I am allowed full creative freedom.  For example… I’m happy for you to say:  “This is the project or idea… this is the basic theme… this is the size of artwork we’re looking for… this is our budget and we really like your (*insert your favourite*) style of art”… 

Then, you would step away… and allow me to create.

What I just… can’t do… is have somebody try to control me or my creative process.  For example:  “We would like you to paint a canvas featuring 3 horses, some red roses,  Table Mountain, the colours of our corporate logo… and a watermark of our founder in the background”.

I just… can’t do that any more.  I did it for years with graphic design… and it destroyed every iota of passion that I (used to) have for graphic design.

I’m super-protective of my Muse these days.

I’m more than happy to work on commissioned projects… but I neeeeeeed creative freedom.  Any outside attempts to manipulate or control my work (and it’s usually corporations who do this)… and the art ends up (in the words of Hitchcock)… stillborn.

Can I commission you to write something for me?

Yes… with the same understanding as above.

I neeeeeeeed the creative freedom be myself.  I can write from the perspective of me… of Hat… of my experiences, my thoughts, my perspectives… (which is why travel-writing is such a nice fit for me… and “experience” writing is also a nice fit for me)…

But I can’t do the formal write-as-an-impartial-observer kind of writing.   Or rather… it’s not as though I can’t write like that… it’s that I don’t like to write like that… because it feels fake and un-ME’ish.  And because I’m protecting The Muse these days.

I’m a feeler… so I see and experience the world from the perspective of how things, spaces, places, experiences… make me feel.   If you’re cool with that… and want me to experience-and-then-write-about something… give me a shout.

You're quite a multi-dimensional creative. What CAN'T you do?

I can’t act… at all.

I’m a terrible dancer (but I like to think that I’m fabulous).  Ask Nick about Heather’s-Jiggy.  Watch him roll his eyes.

Oh… and every iota of creativity mysteriously disappears as soon as I enter a kitchen.  I stare at a cupboard full of ingredients and I’m baffled.  I’m clueless.  I don’t know what to do with any of it (this is why our family survives off toasted sandwiches, ready-made meals from the supermarket… and restaurants).

Suffice to say… I have deep reservoirs of respect for foodies;  those who are able to magically produce droolworthy offerings out of half-eaten leftovers, stale breakfast cereal and rice cakes.  Deep.  Respect.

Other things I suck at include (but are not limited to):

  • selling, promoting or marketing (and especially when it comes to my own work)
  • admin, organising and general neatness
  • managing money (I live in denial that money even exists)
  • anything to do with counting, adding or that loathesome program from Windows beginning with an “E”.
  • remembering to stock up on toilet paper, milk… basic necessities…
...and what won't you do?

Any more shitty corporate work.  That ship has sailed and disappeared over the distant horizon.