How Artist Hello Angel Quit Her 9 to 5 to Become a Full-Time Artist
An Interview with Coloring Book Artist Hello Angel
We recently had the opportunity to speak with one of our most successful authors, Angelea Van Dam, known as “Hello Angel” at her home in Wanganui, a city on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand. Surrounded by a rainbow of markers and brightly colored wall art, she gave us the scoop on how she became her own boss and what inspires her to make art everyday.
Hello Angel got her start as a full-time graphic designer commuting to work 2 hours each way. In 2011, she was contacted by an advertising agency in Chicago to use her artwork in an advertising campaign that unfortunately never came to fruition. After her experience with the advertising agency, she then realized she should try selling her artwork worldwide! She posted her work online and instantly began receiving emails from people asking for custom tattoo art. A few years later, she was contacted to appear in a coloring book along with other artists. Her big break came when she was contacted by her current agent, Art Licensing. They started her on a number of licensing opportunities which led to a coloring book deal with
Fox Chapel Publishing’s Design Originals! Now Hello Angel is a successful, full-time artist. Read Hello Angel’s inspiring story about perseverance and passion:
Explain what you do in 100 words: I create fantasy illustrations packed with little details in black ink then blast them full of color and embellishments that have become my signature style. My work ranges from pages of mindful doodles and cute happy animals to large intricate and storytelling illustrative artworks that take me too long to complete.
What attracted you to this type of art? As a child, I always had a stash of coloring pens and pencils with me. If I didn’t have a book to color in, I would find anything I could to draw my own illustrations on and then color. I think this is what formed my style from a very early age. I’ve dabbled in other styles of art but I always return to super busy, highly detailed pieces.
What specific artist tools can you not live without? A fine black bleed proof pen. Sometimes, I use a mechanical pencil to sketch out the shape if I’m doing more than just a little doodle. Another tool is good quality paper. For color, my favorite thing is alcohol markers but I can work with anything and I usually do.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist? At 17 years old, I left school and joined the New Zealand Navy where I served as a Hydrographic Survey Assistant and Navigators Yeoman for 5 years when my artistic side won out and I left to study graphic design. I have been a graphic designer now for the past 12 years working in boutique studios, newspapers, and large printers in both New Zealand and Australia.
Just to do your own thing and keep on doing it, grow yourself, and try to edit what you see and read online. It’s so easy these days to get caught up in what every other creative is doing. We often only share our perfect moments, not the screwed up messes it took to get there.
Why do you do what you do? I’ve just always done it. I think it has just become more refined and focused these days. Four years ago I was just creating random doodlings in a sketchbook that I used to pass the time on my morning and evening commute, now what I do has grown along with me. I love it!
How do you work? Favorite or more inspirational place? What food, drink, song inspires you? Sometimes in my pajamas! Haha, I’m lucky enough to work from home. I use a spare room in our house as a studio and I try really hard not to go to work in my PJs every day, but sometimes it just has to be done. Perks! Another perk of my workplace is sometimes I can skip the studio completely and work from the couch while watching horrible daytime TV. In the studio, I listen to all sorts of music when I’m creating. Random is my #1 playlist.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you. More often than not my big ideas come to me at night or very early in the morning when I’m just drifting off to sleep, which is often annoying! I guess parts of those ideas come from what I’ve seen in my surroundings during my daily routines. I don’t go out of my way to research or look for ideas to draw. More often than not I put pieces together like a puzzle.
What is a seminal experience in your career? Getting a major publishing deal! Having people believe in me has given me the confidence in my own abilities that I lacked earlier when I was dreaming about being successful.
What themes do you pursue? Is there a specific subject you love to draw more than any other? I love to free draw flowers, mandalas, and abstract doodles when I’m not at my desk. So, I draw on the couch, at the park, out for coffee, on a bus, train, plane or ferry ride, anywhere I can really. But I really enjoy getting stuck into the little ideas I get while creating big pieces that usually take me forever to complete (usually 1 year and they are on a 23.4 in. x 33.1 in. piece of paper). These works are typically a combination of those earlier things I mentioned as well as animals and greenery. I love challenging myself and creating something fantastical out of nature and my imagination.
What memorable responses have you had in your work? Just after my first books were released I received a lovely email from an elderly lady who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis. She wanted to thank me for my lovely work, how open I was with sharing what and how I do what I do, and how much enjoyment she was getting from it all. That email made my day. Since then I’ve had many emails and messages from wonderful people who have found my work in their lives. They all make my day!
What is your favorite piece of art? Klimt’s Water Serpents II – the realism, the color, and the details.
Name three of your favorite artists. 1. Gustav Klimt – The mix of realism and abstract plus his works were a bit naughty for his time, the detailing and color radiate with me too. 2. Henri Matisse – his use of color, lines, and imperfectness – I really like that. Lots of people say I do perfect stuff, but I think if you look at things closely, they’re not perfect at all. When it’s all put together, it just works.
3. Vincent Van Gogh – I’ve loved Van Gogh since I was a teen, I’m just drawn to his brush strokes and as a teen most likely his dark story. This is #4, I also love Dali but more for his crazy mustache. He did crazy warped surrealism, so amazing.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? When I was younger: “Don’t worry about coloring outside the lines!” I try to instill that in my daughter, too. She also loves to draw!
What advice would you have for someone pursuing art as a career?Just to do your own thing and keep on doing it, grow yourself, and try to edit what you see and read online. It’s so easy these days to get caught up in what every other creative is doing. We often only share our perfect moments, not the screwed up messes it took to get there.
Exclusive, limited time Hello Angel deal: Buy one coloring book gift set, get one free with promo code “ANGEL2018” at checkout. When using this code, be sure to update the shopping cart after changing the quantity to 2 kits before adding the code.
For a limited time, buy one Hello Angel Coloring Box Gift Set, get one free with promo code “ANGEL2018” at checkout. When using this code, be sure to update the shopping cart after changing the quantity to 2 kits before adding the code.
This beautiful gift box set offers hours of coloring creativity. With two best selling Hello Angel adult coloring books, twelve high quality colored pencils, a durable pencil travel case with built-in sharpener, and an expert guide to coloring tips and techniques, this gift set will delight any coloring book enthusiast. Inside Hello Angel’s coloring pages, you will find motivating messages and cheerful patterns, all waiting to be filled with every color of the rainbow.
More Hello Angel Book Titles
Brighten up someone’s day with dazzling Hello Angel flower art. This book contains everything readers need to create and share more than 100 unique cards, envelopes, gift tags, bookmarks, art prints, mini-posters, and more.
Featuring beautiful mandala illustrations by bestselling coloring book artist “Hello Angel,” this lovely guided journal inspires readers to focus on the positive things in life. Daily prompts remind you of all the things you have to be grateful for.