Melody Hansen is a talented, Toronto-based artist who created one of our most recent designs, appropriately named “Melody.” The design features the words “And so we hope to be surprised.” It turns out that idea was an emerging theme in Melody’s life already, so we spoke with her a bit more about why this design resonated with her and how she has seen hope and art intersect in her work.
Can you give an overview of your work and how you’ve developed your style?
I create designs, while combining typography, handwritten and illustrated elements, and images. Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace the “less is more” motto. I prefer open spaces where there is room to breathe and a lot of light, and I think this comes out in my work. But this doesn’t mean everything should be perfect; I like to include a “human” touch, too. It makes the work more honest, and I think that’s important.
When did you find TWLOHA? How do you think you connect with it?
I found TWLOHA in 2007 through a friend. I was in high school then, and I wasn’t really aware of just how much depression, self-harm, and suicide affected the people around me. After reading the facts on the TWLOHA site, something in me shook. It was like an awakening, and I started to see people differently; I started to understand what it meant to be human together, that it was OK to be honest and be vulnerable, and conversation was important. Community became necessary to me, and with the help of TWLOHA’s message that love is a movement and that you and your voice matter, I was able to break down a lot of my personal walls. Fear had a very big grip on my life when I was younger, and it had me believe that I didn’t have a lot to offer. It kept me from fully living and being the person I wanted to be. But when someone tells you that you deserve to be alive and you have a unique story to tell, it really changes you.
What was it about the phrase “And we hope to be surprised” that inspired you? What do you hope might surprise you personally?
Oh, man. I have been thinking about surprises a lot lately. I started the new year with the phrase “plan to be surprised,” which I wrote out on my chalkboard as a motivation. So it was kind of a “whoa” moment when Jamie shared this phrase with me just weeks later. Surprises are what keep me going when it gets a little confusing or chaotic; it’s believing in that little moment that will amaze me, having faith that something good will come out of the mystery of the unknown, which scares me a lot sometimes. But I think the surprises are worth the wait. I mean, to think that I own more than seven TWLOHA shirts, and now one of them is something I designed—that’s a little surreal! That alone is such a huge surprise. A true full-circle moment. I have a lot of hope for this year, and because there is so much uncertainty in a lot of places in my life right now, there is also a lot of room for amazement. I hope to be surprised in my relationships with fresh beginnings and new seasons, as well as in some of my personal projects, including music. I think there are some beautiful moments ahead.
How do you think art and creativity can inspire hope? How have you seen this evidenced in your own life?
I believe there is something so supernatural about art and the act of creating. It does something to the soul that I don’t think I can explain. It awakens parts of us we didn’t know were there, it brings people together, makes us feel less alone. The way I see it is that when you create, it comes from a very deep part of you, where you find the courage to be honest, true, and vulnerable. It’s quite an intimate process, really. You see this little glimpse of what it looks like to be human, and I think there is a lot of hope in that. Because somewhere in there, you find something precious and personal and full of wonder. Especially when you share with others, it’s like saying, “Hey, I feel that, too.” And I think art and music and anything that comes from that personal place have helped me to embrace the messy parts that come with being alive. They’ve helped me be OK with my feelings and my thoughts, and to find beauty even in the brokenness and the pain.
You have quite an online following on some platforms. How have you found the internet to be a catalyst for community?
The internet has allowed me to become close to people and actually build a connection with them, even while living continents away. I’ve been able to share my work on various platforms and find support from people all over the world, and they are the reason I continue to find strength in sharing parts of myself. I’m so very grateful for that. I think social media just emphasizes our longing to tell our story and to be with other people, because we were never meant to be alone. We’re given this amazing opportunity to share, give back, encourage, and just be human together through the internet, and I think community can grow out of that. It’s a reminder that there is something more than just yourself; there is a greater story being told, and we get to be a part of it.