Hello! I am over the moon to share today’s blog post with y’all. I’m back with another interview with an incredible woman I admire, am inspired by, and am lucky to call a friend. In this installment of my interview series, I’m sitting pretty with Meredith Hanson of Meredith Hanson Art & Design!
Meredith is an incredible Nantucket-based artist, designer, and muralist who specializes in watercolor, gouache, and acrylic. As an extremely talented artist, you can imagine how visually stunning her Instagram account is, which is actually how I discovered Meredith. Like so much else, I found her work through Instagram because I always have my eye on Nantucket. From there, we became Instagram friends, which turned into real life friends on Nantucket!
Early this fall, Meredith warmly opened up her home to a few of us Charleston gals for a week of exploring, painting, dining, and all things Nantucket (as seen here). Meredith’s art is so inviting, warm, and sunny. It always invokes happiness and joy!
Let me tell you, this is no coincidence. Meredith herself is all of these things and more! It is rare to meet someone and immediately feel so comfortable, happy around, and drawn to but that’s Meredith! I hope you love this interview as much as I do!
Keep reading for a behind the scenes look at what it takes to be an artist and all kinds of Nantucket inspiration.
Sitting Pretty with Meredith Hanson of Meredith Hanson Art & Design
Name: Meredith Hanson
Neighborhood: ‘Sconset, Nantucket
Job: Artist and Designer
Instagram Handle: @merhanson
Let’s Talk Business…
Describe your company in 3 sentences or less:
As an entrepreneur, I am a passionate creator of unique conversation pieces through paint and product design.
What inspired you to become an artist and how did you decide to take the leap of faith?
I started drawing and designing when I was very young. Luckily for me, my mom, who is a serial entrepreneur, recognized my talent and encouraged me to pursue art & design as a full-time career. After briefly working for an interior designer in NYC post college, I packed my bags, moved to Nantucket, and never looked back!
When I first arrived on island, I worked around the clock on an oil portfolio for submission to the Artists Association of Nantucket. I was absolutely thrilled to be accepted and felt so lucky to join an amazing community of AAN artists.
Can you tell us a little bit about your career path?
When I was quite young, I studied and trained with a wonderful art instructor and put in many weekend hours in her studio.
After graduating from Wheaton College in 2011, I moved to NYC to work for an interior designer. I quickly realized that this was not the career path for me. In a nutshell, NYC just didn’t inspire me the way Nantucket did, having grown to love the island during the summers I spent there as a child and young adult. Moving to Nantucket was the best decision I ever made.
I spent my first five years on Nantucket focused primarily on painting in oil. In particular, I loved to paint landscapes and seascapes. I opened my own gallery (again, thanks to my mom!) in 2013 which was incredibly hard work and at the same time, incredibly rewarding. After one year of running my gallery (7 days a week, 10+ hours a day) I decided to switch gears and opened aprivate art teaching business for summer and full-time residents of the island. I made the leap with the help of my dear friend, Holly Finigan, the founder of “Holly’s Blackbook.” Holly shared one post about my business and in an instant, my art teaching “dance card” was full!
Having the opportunity to teach up-and-coming young artists has been an amazing experience for me.
My painting direction changed course a few years ago when I discovered gouache and watercolor while on a painting retreat on Monhegan Island in Maine. Since then, I have pursued design opportunities in a number of verticals including wedding, apparel, beverage, print, and home goods with companies both on and off island.
What is a typical day in the life of Meredith?
I start each and every day waking up with purpose. I love to get up early for a walk with my dog, Willis, jump in an early barre class at Forme, make coffee and a healthy breakfast and then paint all day! Part of my day is devoted to editing my artwork and cultivating new business opportunities. It is no surprise that I have become a painting night owl! Whenever I’m not painting, I love to explore the island for new inspiration. Traveling off the island also gets my creative juices flowing!
What keeps you inspired at work day-in and day-out?
I have lived in three different locations on Nantucket over the past 8 years with my most recent move being to ‘Sconset. This has turned out to be the most inspiring locale of all because of its quiet ambience and charm. I love to catch up on the news in the morning and then listen to books on tape throughout the afternoon while I paint. I am definitely living the dream!
My latest favorite books on tape are:
Educated by Tara Westover
The Algebra of Happiness by Scott Galloway
Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress by Rachel DeLoache Williams
What has been your most rewarding experience since becoming an artist full time?
Collaborating with other creatives and entrepreneurs on design projects along with my private art teaching business.
Recently, I collaborated with the folks at Cape Cod Life magazine who asked me to paint the cover of their Nov-Dec 2019 40th Anniversary issue. Thanks to Jennifer Dow and Allyson Plessner of Cape Cod Life, I was able to tell my story in a 6 page article in the magazine. Hands down, this was the opportunity of a lifetime!
Can you share a current or upcoming project (if you you’re allowed to share!)?
I am working with a clothing company to paint and design an exclusive custom print that embodies the spirit of a New England summer. Think blue hues, boats, and beach themes! (Our collaboration will be available in the spring/summer of 2020)
One of the partnerships that I’m really proud of is with 28 Centre Pointe, an incredibly chic lifestyle boutique on Nantucket. Throughout the entire year, we collaborate on exclusive paintings and designs for their prints and products. Nothing makes me happier than to see my designs in their store windows on Centre Street!
Is there something you know now that you wish you’d known when you started?
Life is like a big experiment. Trends change rapidly so patience and an ability to scramble is essential. I have taught myself photoshop and illustrator through countless youtube tutorials and have signed up for branding and marketing newsletters (I’m a big fan of Jenna Rainey’s Brand + Brand newsletter) to stay ahead of the design curve.
Is there any advice you would give aspiring artists?
Don’t be afraid to try new mediums and learn to be “comfortable being uncomfortable” using these new mediums. I dabbled in watercolor for about a nanosecond when I was in my teens but back then, it didn’t speak to me. It wasn’t until I was on an art retreat on Monhegan Island in Maine that I was persuaded by my instructor to give watercolor and gouache a try and I’m so glad I did! Both are now my mediums of choice while still loving acrylics for mural and apparel painting.
Let’s talk Fashion…
Describe your style in three adjectives.
Sporty with a mix of coastal chic!
What are your wardrobe staples?
Comfort and quality go hand in hand in my world. As an artist, it’s hard not to get paint on everything. My painting wardrobe staples are colorful J. Crew shorts, with layers and layers of paint on them from my 6 years of teaching, paired with striped tops…also which have their fair share of paint!
When I’m not in the studio, I love to transform my look to casual, coastal chic! I’m a big believer in “shopping local” so the majority of my wardrobe choices come from Milly & Grace right in the heart of downtown.
If I peeked in your closet, what color would be the most prominent?
My wardrobe palette reflects my painting palette to a T: a mix of all colors with a high concentration of blue. I love to paint with lots of blue tones like ultramarine french blue, kings blue, and periwinkle. Joie has become a favorite staple in my wardrobe, again thanks to Milly & Grace.
What fashion piece would you splurge on tomorrow if you could?
An entire Gal Meets Glam wardrobe!
Are there any trends you’re excited about now?
More and more businesses are incorporating an artist’s original designs onto apparel and accessories! Veronica Beard’s collaboration with artist Kate Schelter (swoon!) is a great example — I would love to expand my art business into the world of fashion full time.
Let’s talk Beauty…
What are your beauty must-haves? / Are there any natural or clean beauty products or lines you’re loving right now?
Several years ago, a good friend introduced me to Tara Foley of Follain as she was opening one of her Follain boutiques on Nantucket. After meeting Tara and trying out some of her non-toxic and cruelty-free products, it was easy to make the switch to all clean products. Some of my beauty “must have’s” from Follain are:
RMS Beauty Oil
Follain Lemon Grass soap
What perfume do you spritz on as you walk out the door?
I use “French Girl” roll-on perfume because it has an incredibly delicate scent and toxin free!
Let’s talk Art…
What artists are you constantly inspired by (dead or alive)?
Artemisia Gentileschi and Mary Cassatt are two of my all time favorite artists. These women pursued their art careers during different centuries but their strength and drive to succeed was very similar. I have drawn a great deal of inspiration from both of their stories and their lives. How these women pushed their careers with such passion is quite extraordinary.
Who are you favorite artists to follow on Instagram?
Riley Shehay @cestriley
Inslee Farris @inslee
Mari Andrew @bymariandrew
Jenna Rainey @jennarainey
Lauren Taylor @laurentaylorcreates
Sam Malpass @badwaycreative
Lydia M.E. Schrader @lydiamarieelizabeth
Sara Fitz @sarafitzstudio
Up and comers:
Sarah Caplan @sarah.caplan.artistry
Hadley Laughlin @art.hadley.laughlin
Grace Boyle @gracerhianna_art
Do you have any must-have art coffee table books?
When I was traveling in Cornwall two years ago, I happened to stop at a pub for lunch that had several coffee table books for guests to enjoy while they waited. One particular book with a watercolor painting of boots on the cover caught my eye. Opening the book, I was instantly drawn to Sasha Harding’s story and her artwork.
Sasha planned a 6 month hike along the South West Coast Path with her dog and her paints. I would love to plan a trip similar to Sasha’s with my dog, Willis!
Do you have anything on your life bucket list in terms of art ( classes, travel, etc?)
Every year I sign up for an art retreat with my best bud from college and her mom, Marguerite Lawler, who is an incredible artist and art teacher in Portland, Maine. I have been painting with Marguerite and her group on Monhegan Island for several years and this past spring, we went to Italy on our first art retreat abroad – it was a life changing experience for me. I would love to continue exploring the world through art retreats like these and plan some of my own to teach on as well!
Let’s talk Travel…
Beach or Mountains?
Both! I love to travel off island in the winter to more mountainous terrain since Nantucket is quite flat. During the spring, summer, and fall, I am awed and inspired by the beauty of the Nantucket beaches.
East Coast or West Coast?
East Coast. I am originally from Bedford, NY where I spent my teen years riding my horses and painting. I feel a strong connection to New England because that’s where I spent my summers and my college years. And I think the common theme is my abiding love of nature.
What is your favorite destination?
Charleston strikes me as being the Southern version of Nantucket…artistic, full of life, culture, vibrant colors and history. A good friend and fellow artist said to me years ago… “Mer, you can’t call yourself an artist until you have visited Charleston.” I took her advice and booked a trip immediately. Since then, I have happily returned many times.
Are you planning any upcoming trips?
This winter, my boyfriend and I are hoping to collaborate and create an apparel/accessory line of ski inspired watercolor designs when we travel from Aspen to Wyoming.
What is your top bucket list destination?
My top bucket list destinations are Iceland and Greece. I have dreamt of traveling to both of these places over the years and would love to bring my paints along for the ride!
Let’s talk Nantucket…
What does living on Nantucket mean to you? Any favorite part of living on Nantucket?
Nantucket is where my heart is the happiest. From Daffodil weekend straight through the dizzying pace of summer, I love to close out the year with Stroll weekend – an incredibly magical holiday tradition on the island.
Fill in the blank: “ On the weekend, you’ll find me at __________.”
Everyday is a painting day for me! When I do take a break, I love to hit golf balls at the Miacoment driving range followed by a visit to Cisco Brewers with pals!
Best date night restaurant?
Ooo! So many wonderful options! I would have to say my ideal date night is a packed picnic basket from Foggy Bakery to enjoy at Steps Beach! It’s such a quiet and romantic place to chill and listen to waves lapping against the shore.
Best girl’s night out restaurant?
Nautilus or Millie’s! If you can snag the high top table for a group of 6+ at Nautilus it is such a treat! And if you head to Millie’s, make sure you get there early and stay to watch a fiery pink sunset!
Best brunch restaurant?
Island Kitchen is always so cozy. I loved collaborating with IK’s Patrick Ridge on coffee mugs — it was great fun!
Best boutique(s) or shop/shopping?
28 Centre Pointe for all of your home and lifestyle needs. I have a unique partnership with 28 CP and love to paint and create new designs for them throughout the year. Margaret Anne Nolen is an amazing trailblazer and true champion of women in business and I am incredibly grateful to be part of her design team.
Milly & Grace is my #1 clothing and accessory boutique on island. Emily Hollister launched Milly & Grace 10 years ago and thanks to her talented sister, Caroline, her mom, Patty, and the whole Milly & Grace team, they have created a magical island shopping experience.
Best beach on island?
Steps Beach is one of my favorite beach spots on the island. Great for picnics, a warm calm swim, and very dog friendly! My dog Willis and I get our best summer swims there.
There are endless activities for kids, teens and adults on island. Now that I live in ’Sconset, I enjoy riding my bike to Sankaty Lighthouse, walking on Front Street to see all of the rose covered cottages, and 9 holes of golf at Skinners around the corner! The cherry on top is a sailboat ride on the Endeavor sailboat with Captain Jim and Sue!
Anything else we need to know about Nantucket?
When I stepped off the ferry and moved to Nantucket in November of 2011, I felt a deep sense of belonging. My heart felt full and my spirit felt free. I am truly grateful for all that Nantucket (aka the “Grey Lady”) has given me!
Photography by Emily Elisabeth Photography and Meredith Hanson