We had the good fortune of connecting with Hannah Mahdavi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hannah, what are you inspired by?
I draw most of my inspiration for art from nature. I grew up in Florida, and my family would go to St. George Island (on the Gulf of Mexico) almost weekly. I have always felt most like myself when I am on the water. It blows my mind how vast the gulf is. Because I feel so connected to water, it is one of my favorite things to paint. It calms me, and I like to think my paintings do the same to those in their presence. I also draw a lot of inspiration from travel. My dad and I share a love of travel. I don’t think there is a single problem that travel cannot solve. The culture and crowds, the food and flora, the lifestyles and landscapes. All of those things about a new place inspire me. When I am traveling, I take many photos so that I can have them for painting inspiration when I return home.
To sum it up, I would say I’m inspired by the ever-changing colors surrounding me.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I started painting in 5th grade, and I haven’t stopped since. A little over a year ago, I also started to work with polymer clay and began designing clay earrings. I work full time in advertising as a project manager, but I have a small art business on the side. It keeps my creativity flowing and allows me to make a side hustle out of my hobby. I hope to be able to completely commit to my small art business in the future. The “goal” or “dream” is to own a coffee shop/art studio. It would be a collaborative space for creatives filled with inspiration on every wall. I am really excited to be in Atlanta because there are so many opportunities. I recently had a tent at Rev’s Spring Fest. I met so many great people and fellow creatives (some of us have even become friends)! I also had a tent at Red Hare Brewing’s 10 year anniversary celebration. I hope to continue to do these markets. I feel like I’m creating a network of creatives in Atlanta, and I’m super excited to keep growing.
I don’t have anything specific I want the world to know about me or my story, but I would tell anyone on the fence about trying art or something creative to just dive in! EVERYTHING can be painted over and made into a blank canvas (and the paint underneath shows how far you’ve come).
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The duality of Atlanta is one of the main reasons I was drawn to moving here. I love that you can grab an acai bowl from Lucky Lotus in Ponce City Market in the morning and within a couple hours you can have a glass of wine at Wolf Mountain Vineyard in Dahlonega or hike at Cloudland Canyon State Park.
If my best friend was coming, I’d take her (Gabi) to a few places.
1. Vinings (Cafe Comma for their comma latte and Read Shop for coffee/cute shop)
2. Roswell (Crazy Love Coffeehouse, Fellows Cafe for their European style interior, hiking at Roswell Mill)
3. Dahlonega (Wolf Mountain Vineyard for their wine and views, Picnic Cafe for their Dirty Vanilla Chai Latte)
4. The Battery (dancing at PBR, pizza at Antico)
5. Dark Horse for karaoke Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am grateful for so many people that have helped me grow to where I am today, but, if I’m being honest, there is one person that has had the deepest impact on my art career. In 5th grade, my parents wanted me to start taking piano lessons. I, not musically inclined, asked if I could take art lessons instead. They agreed, and we found Mrs. Kathleen Carter.
When I started the lessons, I would go to her house once a week after school and sit in her kitchen to paint. It was always the highlight of my week to learn from her. She taught me about color. I can still hear her say, “Never use a color straight out of the tube!” She always pushed me to learn and create the most authentic pieces I could. Eventually, Mrs. Carter moved to a little studio called Starry Night Studio. I continued art lessons and became her assistant in high school to help out with the younger classes.
Mrs. Carter taught me about so much more than color though. She taught me about perseverance. How not to give up. How good things take time. But she also taught me that it’s okay to mess up. EVERYTHING can be painted over and turned into a blank canvas. A few years ago, Mrs. Carter took her own life. It was then that I found out that she struggled with mental health. I did not know this in the time I shared with her, but I wish I had. I wish I could have told her that I, too, struggle with mental health. I wish I could have told her that art is one of the few consistencies in my life that gets me through the anxiety. It is the only calm I can find sometimes. Painting is my escape when nothing else is. It’s the only time that my brain will stop running. I wish Mrs. Carter and I had talked about this. I wish she knew how much she taught me, both about art and about life. I think about her every time I pick up a paintbrush.
Personal Photo: Karilyn Photography on the Coast