Story Hemi-Morehouse; Māori illustrator & animation designer.

Story Hemi-Morehouse is an award winning illustrator and animation designer. She has worked as an illustrator internationally for over 5 years, creating worlds and characters in her unique and emotive style. Her work expresses the greater need for global representation in media, and she frequently uses her skills to revive stories from indigenous cultures.

Story grew up between her homeland of Aotearoa-New Zealand and Australia. She now works from her home studio in Yugumebh Country (Gold Coast, Aus). When she isn't working on commissions, Story loves experimenting with ceramics and writing her own stories.

Find out more here…

When did you start Illustrating?

I’ve been illustrating since forever really - I just haven’t stopped ever since I was little, and I just kept going. As a kid, cartoons really fuelled my love for drawing and storytelling, and they’re still a big inspiration for me today. My love for cartoons and art grew to include graphic novels and comics during my teenage years, and all that led me to study a Bachelor of Animation straight after high school - and now, here I am today! I’m still a nerd for cartoons and I’m working in visual storytelling and design - feeling like little me would definitely be happy to know where I am today.

Who has been the most supportive in your illustration career, perhaps your teacher, family, friends?

I had some amazing art teachers and librarians in high school who know how to fuel my artistic cravings, so I’m really thankful for them. But I think most of all I have to be thankful for my family’s influence. My sister is a fashion designer who kind of showed me as a teen that chasing after an artsy dream was not only possible, but also so fulfilling - so I went for it. My parents were also really accepting and supportive of my choice to study art, knowing that it’s what makes me truly happy! I’m lucky like that

Did you always think art was going to be something that was a major part of your life?

Kind of, yeah. I don’t think you have to make a full career out of art to be an artist, but I’m thankful that I get to. I would have kept drawing no matter what!

What is your favourite subject matter to illustrate?

I love illustrating subject matter that feels like it’ll have an impact, or a message I can really push out to people, and either uplight or inspire them. As well as that, I also frequently work in indigenous publishing - and I have to say that, that is a special part of the industry for me. I love bringing representational work to a new generation, and celebrate the community I’m a part of. Projects like that really recharge my creative batteries.

How would you describe your style?

I think my style is representative of who I am. It’s like a cultural mish-mash, that ranges from cartoony to anatomically detailed graphic novel-esque in style, but with really vibrant, fun colours that are kind of kid-ish. I love pulling elements from my Māori heritage into my visualizations, and then riffing on pop-cultural influences from America, Australia and Aotearoa-New Zealand. I think that’s the cool thing about art - I just get to draw what I wanna see, so I come out a lot in my work.

What is your favourite collaboration to date?

Oooo tough one. Maybe How my Koro became a Star’ with the author Brianne te Paa (Huia Publishers). The story she wrote was just breathtaking and made me cry when I first heard it! So I knew I had to be the one to illustrate it and I got to put a lot of feeling into that storybook. I’m really proud of how it turned out, and it’s been recognised in a lot of award categories now.

What interested you about being represented by illo agency?

I mean, seeing the talent that’s already repped by Illo Agency was a huge draw, I think there are some awesome creators there already - so I feel psyched to be included next to them! I’m really keen to see where our partnership goes and I’m excited to be introduced to projects I otherwise might not have gotten to be challenged by.

Do you have a favourite author, film director, or designer?

This is so hard, because I have so many influences. But as a quick fire answer, a few of them are: drag queens, fashion photographers, Adventure Time, Steven Universe, Loïc Locatelli-Kournwsky, Peter Gossage, Taika Waititi, Wes Anderson and the author Madelline Miller are among my favourite storytellers.

Are you working on any personal projects you can share with us?

A graphic novel in the genre of spiritual fiction - that’s probably all that’s worth sharing for now, hopefully I have more to say soon!

Do you listen to podcasts? If so, do you have a favourite?

Not often, I usually just love putting on some good music, especially as I’m working. But when I do feel like a podcast, I throw on either Welcome to Nightvale, This Changes Everything or How to Be a Better Human.

If you’d like more info, please contact her agent: [email protected]

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