Handa (or H&A) finds an escape from the relentless current of life in Seattle, WA through illustration, crafting, and cycling. Her work has appeared in local collections such as Intruder, Extruder, Thick as Thieves, Short Run's Relay Anthology, and the Seattle Weekly.
Handa is one of the artists in the Fierce Tidings art exhibition at the Gene Siskel Film Center in conjunction with the FAAIM 22nd Annual Asian American Showcase which runs March 31st through April 12th, 2017. We asked her a few questions about her work and artistic practice!
-Does your identity or how you identify yourself inform your work in any way?
An understanding of my personal identity has always eluded me, so it can be difficult to see how it comes out in my work. I don't feel anyone has to know me to understand my work, however. A lot of it is light-hearted, silly, and aimless. I try to get away from myself as a subject in a lot of drawings. The theme for this show led me to do the opposite and pull inspiration directly from personal struggles and aspirations. Perhaps I discovered more about my identity through making work for this show.
-When making your work, do you have certain expectations or do you aim for a specific reaction in your audience and the viewer? (Do you care about how the message of your work is received?)
Entering the world of comics as an illustrator meant that I had to start writing. It certainly isn't my strong suit and I usually convey simple, straight-forward ideas. Since there isn't a lot to interpret, I primarily focus on the fluidity of paneling and pacing. So if a reader does not understand the visual sequencing, I do feel I've missed the mark. In regards to non-sequential illustration, I hardly have deep intentions to defend. It can be refreshing and insightful to have someone else explain their perspective of my work to me. As an opinionated person, I need to be open to other perspectives.
-Does art serve a purpose for you outside of just beauty or aesthetics?
Like many people, I feel the constant urge to make things. Art is my mind's exhaust which means it isn't necessarily a choice, but I do find it therapeutic, and it makes me happy. Making art can be a solitary, isolating lifestyle. The community of self-publishers and comic artists in Seattle has also forever enriched my life. I am super grateful to be connected to so many through the same passion.
-How do current events affect your practice?
Current events drive many conversations, debates, and discoveries throughout my day. And though I would say I am interested in the lives of other people and the global community, there is always an urge inside to get away from everything. When I get into the sketchbook, I tend to leave political and social hot topics behind.
-Do you feel you are more reactive or more reflective when you create?
I imagine I'm more reflective. The time I spend making something is typically when I work through my life strand by strand. Dissecting all of the details of days gone by and days ahead. Sometimes, after the brainstorming stage is over and it's all mechanical work, I don't even think about what I'm drawing. I'm just daydreaming about exploring outer space as a Starfleet officer.