Meet the Author: “S” is for Salmon by Hannah Viano
Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and what inspires you?
I grew up on the rocky coast of Maine playing in boats and on islands. Now I’ve been in the region for many years and through a bunch of outdoor educator type work and adventures, I have come to know and love the Northwest environments as my own. Art seems to me like a bit of the natural world that you can take home with you, keep in your pocket, and hold onto when you are in the city or at your office building.
What motivated you to write “S is for Salmon?”
It started as a grant project to make display size sets for children’s programs around the Seattle area. I was inspired by an alphabet Mary Azarian made for her Vermont schools, and when looking at the current sets up in my area, I thought that they could be more Northwest-focused and add a sense of place and environmental awareness to this common learning tool. The publishers found out about the grant project and approached me later on.
How did you choose which piece of the Northwest would make the cut for each letter in the Northwest alphabet?
Mostly I chose whichever one I was most excited to make a picture of, and I factored in characters that the majority of the population would recognize. Some really great ones had to get cut though. For example, there were lots of Os: Otter, Oregon grape, oyster, etc.
Do you have a personal favorite letter?
“A” for anemone has become my favorite, and maybe jellyfish. Lichen was one I kept putting off until last.
How did you come to using the medium of paper?
I first tried it in a class with Northwest artist Nikki McLure. I think it was 2010, and I had recently become a mother. In the wake of that change I was re-evaluating my interests, as some of the art and work I had been doing didn’t resonate with me anymore. So I was putting myself out in new directions, trying new things, and had loved Nikki’s work for years. I mostly went to see her process, not really because of much interest in paper-cut, but I was surprised to find I loved doing it.
Can you tell us what projects you are working on next?
I am working now on a children’s story where a small boy gets to go on an adventurous journey up to Alaska to meet his crusty old grandpa and encounters sea planes, whales, floating houses, etc. What could be better for a young naturalist/ninja/superhero wannabe? It will be called “Through the Locks” for the Ballard locks where the journey begins.