The White Rabbit: A Q+A About Illustrator/Designer Hillary White

I sat down with the phenomenally talented and uber-witty Hillary White, pop art illustrator, painter, and t-shirt designer.  Other fun facts: she digs tea, has a penchant for the '80s, and she's been practicing transcendental meditation since she was 10.  How cool is that? 

1.      What’s your story in five sentences or less?

I am a Belfast, Maine, native born from the salty depths of a bubbling cauldron overflowing with ’80s pop culture, classical art, and Alice in Wonderland. I spend most of my time painting classical art and pop culture mash-ups, and designing T-shirts.

 2.      When did you know you wanted to be an illustrator? 

There was never an “aha” moment. Drawing was something that came naturally and was enjoyable. I just kept practicing with encouragement from family and art teachers along the way.

After college I had “ordinary” jobs for a time and believed that the best approach probably was to make art a part-time thing, before eventually realizing the grind of going to work didn’t leave enough energy to be imaginative. Once I devoted myself exclusively to producing art—working on projects that appealed to me—things began to improve and evolve.

 3.      Where did you go to college and how did that experience shape you as an illustrator/artist? 

Freshman year I attended Maine College of Art in Portland as a Painting major. Then there was a year of the same at Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. My third (and final) year I switched to University of Maine in Orono, majoring in New Media. While I’m grateful for the experience, I decided that more college wasn't going to make me happier or more successful, only a debtor. Thankfully, art is one of those things for which you don’t necessarily need a degree, only creativity.

 4.      How has being a Mainer shaped you as an artist?  Does your geography affect your art?

Basically, I lived in a Maine-kid's paradise—near to or within traveling distance of woods, fields, rivers, lakes, trails, and wildlife in a relatively small city, yet also rural—but I don’t use much of that in my work. Maybe it gave me the space to play and explore and use my imagination, but nothing specific comes to mind about how my location has affected my art…more at ease working alone? But that’s more about methodology than results; pop culture is everywhere. (Although it didn’t help my chances of becoming Miss America…)

 5.      Your alter ego is the White Rabbit.  How did that come to be?

My last name being White, I was halfway there (so creative). For a course assignment during my third year of college we had to come up with a personal logo. Because I’ve always loved Alice in Wonderland the White Rabbit seemed fitting. He’s essentially Alice's guide through Wonderland, appearing and disappearing at various moments to propel her forward.

To me, he’s symbolic of synchronicity, a concept that resonates with me. A quote that sums it up for me that might explain it best: “There are times in our lives when we must make choices based more on instinct than intellect. Often, the soul recognizes its choice before the rational mind has time to process the information.”

          6.      You’ve become known in the art industry as a pop artist.  Was that the result of personal evolution for you, or have you always been drawn to that style?

A bit of both? I mean, I didn't ever plan on being where I am now with my work but being both drawn to classical art and pop culture (especially the ’80s). It seems like a natural progression in hindsight.

 7.      Some people call art meditative.  Do you agree?  What do you think about when sitting at the wheel?

Speaking as a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation (since I was 10) I have something to compare it with. So, yes, I definitely agree. When working, I listen to my iPod and the world fades away. Art is one of those few things one can do where the mind doesn’t run incessantly. When I’m painting or drawing it’s like only “thinking” with my eyes.

 8.    What projects are you working on and who are your biggest clients?

Generally I have a few mash-ups in the painting queue (as already mentioned), as well as a few shirt ideas, but let’s not get too specific. There aren’t really any clients, as such. I do stuff kind of on speculation…I license my shirt designs (and sometimes poster prints of my art) to various companies, and sell work on print-on-demand sites (PODs). A few of the companies are TeeFury, RIPT Apparel, Shirt.Woot, Threadless, iCanvas, Juniqe, The Yetee, Busted Tees, Society6, and RedBubble.

 9.    What are your future plans as an artist?

Is it bad that I don't have any? Being more of an “in the moment” type person, I take things as they come. Just to be able to make art and have someone appreciate it. Anyway, I find too much planning doesn’t leave room for life’s surprises! (Preferably good ones…)

 10.    Who are other artists/musicians/writers/designers that inspire you?

There are too many to name so I’ll grab at some names. Artists: the Impressionists (such as Monet, Renoir, Manet, Cassatt) because I like to paint quickly and have a thing for color; the Surrealists (Dali, Magritte, Kahlo), for their bizarre/absurd and sometimes nightmarish imaginings which remind me of the strange, vivid dreams from my early youth. And I still love the illustrations of Roald Dahl and William Steig. And who wasn’t traumatized as a child by Stephen Gammell’s drawings in Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (which they’ve tamed in later editions)?

Musicians/music: Anyone/anything from the ’80s, even if not actually from the ’80s but sounds reminiscent of the time (it helps get in that “zone”). So MS MR, CHVRCHES, Florence + The Machine, Purity Ring, MGMT, Röyksopp, HAIM, The Naked and Famous, Metric, The Knife…OK, that’s enough...

 11.    Last but not least, what’s your “blissful interlude” – the time of day that gives you the most bliss?

 Besides art-making—and this might sound very Miss Marple of me—tea time is always nice.

Follow Hillary on Facebook where you can find links to her t-shirts and other awesome art and hop over to her website.  

Beyond the 9-5: Discovering Your Passion & Making it Work

I wrote an article on Career Contessa about juggling a full-time career and external passions.  Whether they are creative, competitive, or otherwise, making time for our passions if critical to our success at work and beyond. 

What makes your heart pound and flutter when you leave work for the day? What gets you excited when you face a Saturday with no agenda in hand? How can you make time for those activities after you’ve clocked out for the day?

In the article I provide my tips for finding your passion, igniting it, keeping it burning, and striking a balance between that work and the rigors of your 9-to-5.  Read the full article here.

 

Listen to Your Gut: An Intuitive Reading with Valerie Libby

Trained as an attorney and having worked at one of the most premier law firms in Maine, Valerie Libby left the legal profession nearly 15 years ago to pursue her passion, which had been calling her for several years.  Her calling – what she believes has allowed her to forge her path in the most fundamentally authentic way – and to help others get on the path that is intended for them – is in her work as an Intuitive and an Executive/Life Coach.

With some of the same tenets as a psychic, Valerie operates with a slightly different philosophy than that of a psychic or astrologer.  By tapping into her intuition – which every one of us has and which strengthens the more we develop it – Valerie is able to access information on others’ behalf, to delve into the rich inner life of her clients, with their permission.  This information includes tapping into a client’s history, greatest desires and dreams.  In Valerie’s practice, she may hone in on certain traumas or particular beliefs or behaviors that may be holding people back from living their most authentic life. 

Valerie’s process as an Intuitive is unique from that of a psychic in that she typically begins by doing a meditation prior to meeting with her client.  In that meditative state, she is only given limited information about the client prior to her first meeting with them (i.e., only their name, telephone number and three areas of their life they would like her to focus on in the meditation).  During the meditation, Valerie focuses on the client and taps into her intuition, as well as the client’s energy field. 

All thoughts, visions, voices, bodily sensations come to her are via her intuition by means of clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentience, and the energetic connection with her client.  She takes notes during her meditation to facilitate remembering the information she receives for the actual reading-time with the client, and often has between 10-15 pages of notes to relay.  This note-taking process provides the framework for the meeting with her client. 

As part of my interview of Valerie for this story, she performed a reading for me.  As she began the reading, she explained that “[g]enerally something that first comes to me during my meditation is something you’re on the verge of; you’re right on the edge of it.  I just pay attention to what happens.  I see things in my mind’s eye, I hear things, I might have body sensations.”  With respect to my reading, Valerie explained that “it was clear to me during this reading that you’ve learned some things about yourself that are life-changing for you.”  She later explained what those things were.

Valerie’s images and information is often symbolic.  The first scene that appeared to her in the meditation was a line of people tap-dancing.  “They’re all women and they’re all in a row, kind of like the Rockettes.  You’re a part of it and you’re all dancing in unison,” she describes, adding that, “It’s as if you’re saying to me that you could dance alone, but it’s as if you’re showing me that acting with others is more powerful.  It’s as if you’re doing a tap dance alone it might be interesting to watch, but if you see a lineup of people doing something it has more impact.” 

“I see you – you’re one of the dancers – but you’re a person who draws people into alignment with you.  You’re showing me that if [the line-up] were just for dancing you would be bored and dissatisfied.  It’s as if you’re saying you want something more.  You want to do something more; something that’s more meaningful and impactful than just one person dancing or acting alone,” she explains with utter confidence. 

“How is this resonating for you?” Valerie stops to inquire.  “Very much so,” I respond, reflecting on my own personal visions and desire for making a difference in the world.  I let her continue so not to disrupt her flow.

“You say to me, ‘I just need to trust.  If I build it, they will come.’  It’s as if you’re just settling into your inner wisdom.  You’re saying to yourself: ‘Don’t worry who will show up.’  You want to talk to people about shifts in consciousness or shifts in perspective, as if, that is the thing that’s going to help them to shift.  This [your work] is about an understanding of belief and intention, of thoughts turning into matter,” Valerie describes.

Continuing on, Valerie adds, “There’s something about your particular path, about what you’re learning about yourself, and what you’ve learned about life that informs you about what others might need.  It’s like you already have it in mind.  Somehow or other, the people and places will show up to make it happen.  This is a part of you stepping out very differently than you have been to date.”  

“When people find their way to me, the first part of the reading is typically about people being on the edge,” Valerie says, explaining that, “Whatever the first thing is that shows up, I feel like people are on the verge of it, and if they step into it, it shifts their life.”   In my particular case, she says that, “When you step into this, it will shift everything.  This is about you doing something that is from your own story, and you’re doing something that is uplifting other people.  

When the reading concluded, I found myself at complete peace with Valerie’s reading.  It was a simultaneous reminder and reinforcement about the power of intuition; of the importance of not only listening to your gut, but trusting the power of intuition.

As an experienced Intuitive, Valerie’s powers exemplify how intuition can be developed through focus, practice, and concentration and how important it can be in assisting each of us in fulfilling our life’s purpose.  In my reading, Valerie explained that this skill is something she spent over a decade developing before ever attempted to use it with others.  And, as a coach, Valerie helps her clients develop their intuitive skills and pulls from their strengths to create sustainable successes in alignment with their deepest desires.  While we all have intuition within us, it is helpful to have others help draw it out, and in some cases to help guide us to what we already know. 

If you would like to have an intuitive reading or you are looking for a coach to support your process and/or help you create the tools and a workable plan for personal or professional success, please contact Valerie Libby at valerieslibby@gmail.com.