Jon Hanlan's character illustrations inspired by Picasso, Matisse and vintage cartoons

Jon Hanlan's unique style can be attributed to Picasso, Matisse, illustrators from the Mid-Century, as well as vintage cartoons. Full of quirky, often abstract features, his artworks include humorous and eccentric characters, engulfed in surreal and colourful backgrounds.

Currently based in Boston, Massachusetts, the Canadian-born creative works remotely part-time as a flight attendant and a freelance illustrator. "It has its challenges," he tells Creative Boom, "yet it is one of the biggest drivers to my inspiration. I find inspiration quite often while exploring urban environments – the odd thrift-store on an off-beaten street that has some vintage cartoon toy you've never heard of, next to some strange shirt from the '70s. In that juxtaposition it can be one of the most exhilarating artistic experiences that I have."

In fact, his job working for an airline means he gets to visit lots of different cities and enjoy various art exhibitions, only adding to his sources of inspiration. "I recently went to Chelsea, New York and saw Robert Nava's show at Vito Schnabel's gallery and it was incredible," he adds.

Some of the work Hanlan creates has found itself in editorial publications, social media campaigns and LGBT+ sticker sets for brands. As well as enjoying creating personal projects, he also focuses on themes he's passionate about: sustainability, and human rights.

"Instagram is so crowded lately, and it can feel like you're on this huge stage with a couple of people in the audience. So, I took that energy and started singing my heart out," says Hanlan. "I am committed to working on projects that I believe are making a positive difference for the planet, in whichever way that happens to be."

Hanlan reminds us that there is no shame in having a part-time profession as creatives. "I'm glad in a sense I've found happiness in the typical struggles it seems like all freelancers go through when it comes to making money from our craft. I've fully connected back with the child sense of doing art for arts sake, and it's beautiful.

"The work I produce is an extension of myself in many ways, and in that same fashion it is unraveling as time goes on. And it's growing, just like I am. And I cannot wait to see where it leads, and what comes out of that."


Get the best of Creative Boom delivered to your inbox weekly