Sandi Hauanio is an Indiana-based artist who specializes in minimalist drawings and digital works. She connected with us through our submission link for artists who want to be a part of our permanent collection. We were super impressed by her bold, colorful, and modern designs. Get to know Sandi Hauanio and we guarantee you’ll soon be crazy about her art!
Evan La Ruffa: Hey Sandi! So nice to have connected. Thanks for being down for an interview! You submitted your artwork via our website – thanks so much for reaching out. We get more submissions than ever these days but your enthusiasm came through.
Sandi Hauanio: Thanks, it’s a really great opportunity for me and one I’m excited to be a part of.
Evan La Ruffa: Tell us your story! You currently live and work in Indiana, but we don’t know much else… where are you from originally? How would you describe your perspective as a human and your artwork in general?
Sandi Hauanio: I come from a mixed race backround and was born in Michigan where my Mother is from. My Dad is Native Hawaiian, born and raised in Hawaii, so we moved back and forth between the two places. Living in Hawaii was such a special experience and I’d say was one of the biggest influences on my perspective as a human. There, I was exposed to lots of different people from a variety of different cultures, who spoke different languages and lived differently from my family. It seemed to me that everyone got along. It made me appreciate differences in people as well as their similarities. As for my artwork, I always have a hard time explaining or describing it. I suppose at the most basic level, most of the work I create starts as an exploration of an idea. From the initial thought I expand on the concept through several different pieces until I’ve exhausted all of the possible options of that initial idea or until I lose interest.
Evan La Ruffa: Your Segmented and Black and White Collections are particularly awesome in my view. Can you tell our readers about the process of creating each of those series?
Sandi Hauanio: The Segmented series is my most recent work. I’m obsessed with creating these organic shapes with just straight lines. First, I lay out a grid system. The height and width of the rectangles that make up the grid system are chosen through lots of trial and error beforehand because this determines the look of the shapes. Half of each shape is created by lines drawn from a single point to the corner of each rectangle. All of this is repeated in a mirror image to complete the second half of the shape. After the drawing has been laid out in graphite pencil, I start filling in the shapes with colored pencil. As for the black and white pieces, most are done digitally. They provide a good way for me to work through ideas and explore new shapes.
Evan La Ruffa: You mention working with pencil as well as digitally, how do you typically work – between the two? One or the other?
Sandi Hauanio: I definitely work between the two mediums. I always start by sketching out a new idea on my laptop using AutoCad. Once the idea is pretty much worked out with measurements and everything, I’ll recreate the drawing in Illustrator. I don’t always know at this point if I’m going to do an actual colored pencil drawing or not. The reason for recreating it in Illustrator is because the drawing will be a vector drawing. Vector drawings can be enlarged to any size without losing resolution. If I plan to submit a piece for licensing or think I might offer it for sale on Etsy, I need the ability to enlarge it. The last step is to work out the color. Typically, if I don’t already have an idea of color scheme, I’ll play around with the drawing in Photoshop. If I do have a bit of an idea of the colors I want to use then I go straight to paper and pencils to find the final color scheme.
Evan La Ruffa: Who are some artists you look to for inspiration, whether in the past or currently?
Sandi Hauanio: I love lots of artists for a variety of reasons and I’m always finding new ones but several of my favorites are the Colorfield painters from the 1950’s like Mark Rothko, Frank Stella and Barnett Newman, just to name a few. I’m a huge fan of Ellsworth Kelly and love the graphic style of Roy Lichtenstein. Recently, I’ve discovered a photographer, Andrea Torres Balaguer who does these abstract portraits in the richest colors. They look more like oil paintings, really amazing!
Evan La Ruffa: How does your lived experience play into your artwork, if at all? I am always curious about how identity, culture, ethnicity, language, and worldview factors into artwork that isn’t overtly focused on any of those things.
Sandi Hauanio: I’d say from lived experience, my love of architecture has always been a big influence. Everytime I’m in a new city, my favorite thing is to do is walk around and look at all the buildings. I love the way the light plays on buildings and how it creates textures and shapes. I feel like lots of my work has an architectural feel. I went to school for furniture design but initially I thought I might want to be an architect. I felt a longing to actually build things with my hands so I chose furniture design instead.
Evan La Ruffa: Have you had any formative creative inspirational moments where experiencing a certain artwork just blew your head open to a whole new world of ideas, creativity, thinking, or feeling? We really enjoy tapping into those and passing those stories along.
Sandi Hauanio: Yes, of course! In my art history classes in college, we studied all the influential artists of the past. It was amazing when I was able to actually see some of their work in person. The first time I saw a Rothko, I couldn’t believe the size of it! I was really moved by the colors and how powerful they were in creating a feeling or mood.
Evan La Ruffa: What are some of the ways you protect your creative time?
Sandi Hauanio: My drawing studio is in my house so it can be difficult to hide away from people and pets! Really, I just have to put my head down and not give in to distraction. If I’m in the midst of a piece and really enjoying it, I get kind of cranky if I can’t work. I am lucky in that my drawings get worked out technically first so once it’s layed out on paper and I’m in the coloring in stage, I’m able to pop in an out of my studio for even just a few minutes at a time and get a little something done. In other words, once the creative part of the drawing is done, I’m just coloring!
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