By Scott Elpers - Photography by Aaron Patton
Hannah Scott imagines a room lined in white walls. A blank and empty space she can transform into a large-scale artistic creation. That three dimensional canvas is what Scott considers the perfect place to create a masterpiece.
“I’d love a space like that where I can do whatever I wanted. That’s the dream,” Scott said. “I never thought I’d love large spaces and murals as much as I do.”
Scott’s artwork stretches across Wichita.
There’s a mural inside Charles Koch Arena at Wichita State University and another at Reverie Coffee Roasters. One of her largest murals is also one of her first commissions, which stretches across the outside storefront and throughout the inside of Lululemon at The Waterfront.
“It was a great experience, although a little intimidating and scary at first,” said Scott, who completed the 500-square foot mural in less than 10 days. “I didn’t think I could do it at first. That feeling of accomplishment was very gratifying.”
Then there’s the astronaut permanently suspended in faux outer space that orbits the ceiling of her shop, Vortex Souvenir, a stationery and gift shop that specializes in art and design she co-owns with Kevin Wildt. Scott will get another crack at Vortex’s inside decor this fall, when the shop moves to Revolutsia, a new shopping district constructed entirely of shipping containers near the corner of Central and Volutsia.
“Art had always been a hobby for me,” she said. “It was never anything I thought I could turn into a career.”
Born and raised in Wichita, Scott pivoted from pursuing a journalism degree at the University of Kansas to graduating with a degree in fine art at WSU in 2014.
Shortly before her graduation, Scott and Wildt launched their first entrepreneurial endeavor, a custom rubber stamp business called Stamp Yo Face!.
“We primarily do portraits. I’ll draw someone’s face and we’ll turn it into a rubber stamp that you can use on wedding invitations, bills, you name it,” she said.
With its success, Stamp Yo Face! became Scott’s full-time job after college. Commissioned artwork picked up and Vortex opened its doors in late 2017.
“When you’re younger, you imagine being a professional artist as this vagabond lifestyle. It’s great if you can do that, but you also have to be an adult and have healthcare and pay your bills,” she said. “It’s hard, because there’s not a lot of security. But it’s very rewarding because you’re doing what you love.”
Juggling two businesses and a growing demand for commissioned work, Scott still manages to create art for herself. Her primary medium is illustration with influences from artists like Christian Rex Van Minnen and Rebecca Morgan.
“I feel like I have two different styles,” she said. “I have the illustrator side of me where I’m focused on tightly rendered drawings that are more realistic and naturalistic, but I also push the boundaries and make things a little strange and unconventional. I’ll created things that are more playful and fun, more casual. I’m always bouncing back and forth.”
“Illustration is what I gravitated towards over time,” she added. “After four years of art school, I felt a little jaded about making fine art. I know there’s a point of fine art, but I can connect with people in a more personal way through illustration. Fine art can be hard for people to access and to connect to. Illustration takes away that pretention. I want to make art I’m proud of. I never want to forget why I started doing this in the first place.”