Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we chat with Samantha Hahn, a New York-based illustrator, author and the creative director for an amazing new book box subscription company called quarterlane. Samantha takes us through the daily hustle of playing many roles in this industry and shares with us her passion for success.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career.
I’m a Brooklyn based creative director, illustrator and author. I work with a range of clients such as: quarterlane, the Paris Review, Vogue Japan, Lela Rose, Marie Claire, Chronicle Books and Apartment Therapy.
2. What is a typical work day like for you?
It really varies. I often have a couple of illustration projects going at once and I’m creative director at quarterlane so I’m often sending off interview questions to authors, planning lifestyle photoshoots or having plotting and planning sessions with founder Elizabeth Lane about our upcoming season.
3. Can you explain your involvement with quarterlane books and how you got involved?
I came on shortly before the launch to do some illustrations. I wound up really connecting with Elizabeth the founder, who is the amazing book curator as well. I wound up advising on the site and brand visuals and staying on as creative director along with Courtney Peterson. I spearheaded the launch of an editorial sister site called The Edit where we conduct author interviews, lifestyle features, book reviews and where we simply celebrate our love of reading and reading culture. It’s honestly the most fun project I’ve had in a long time. I really love collaborating with Elizabeth and being part of such a brilliant brand as it rapidly grows. My role has become nebulous. It’s not just simply visuals. If I have an idea I pitch it. We have a really natural, humanistic and organic way of working together which I love.
4. Out of all of the hats you wear, whether it be illustrating, publishing, writing, etc. what is your favorite role?
That’s a hard question and it varies from day to day depending on what I’m working on. Sometimes at the start of fashion week I’m so excited to illustrate shows but by the end I want to use a different part of my brain, so working on quarterlane feels like heaven. Then a publisher will reach out with an amazing project to create a set of notecards for The Smithsonian of famous gems and I’m all excited to put my brush to the paper again. I love coming up with concepts for lookbooks and have recently had the pleasure of creative directing some for people whose work I’ve long admired. My main passion is collaborating with people and companies I admire. At the end of the day, that’s what I thrive on.
5. What social media platform has been your biggest form of success for marketing yourself and quarterlane books?
For myself I would say Instagram. I don’t have a ton of followers but my quality of followers is good. A lot of editors and art directors and brands I work with follow me there so it’s a nice way to showcase what I’m working on or what’s come to fruition. I run quarterlane’s Pinterest which is still pretty new but is growing all the time. I love curating images that speak to the visual mood and tone of quarterlane. The Edit is my main focus though. There’s an endlessly fascinating stream of people and books to showcase and it’s just thrilling.
6. When it comes to building a brand, what is an important lesson that you have learned?
I think having a clear vision of who you are speaking to is essential. It can be a group of people but picture the brand as a lecture that you are sending a flyer out about and see who would file into the auditorium to listen. That’s your audience.
7. Your illustrations are beautiful and full of variety, is there a specific subject that you enjoy drawing the most?
I love painting the female form. I do this mainly through fashion illustration. It’s just an opportunity to celebrate movement, gesture, texture and color.
8. Are you currently working on any of your own books at the moment to publish?
Gosh no! I did 2 and that’s enough for me at least for the foreseeable future. Doing a book takes tremendous bandwidth and emotional, intellectual and creative energy. As aforementioned I thrive on collaborating and doing a variety of projects and I feel being the sole author of a book just sucks too much out of me and isn’t the platform I’m most excited about. I’m happy to do other people’s book covers though and who knows, maybe someday I will get an idea that I just can’t imagine not publishing. It could happen but not for a couple of years at at least. I’m still recovering from my last book.
9. Who is a Boss Lady that inspires you?
Christene Barberich, global EIC of Refinery 29.
Behind the Boss Lady: Samantha Hahn’s Mood Board