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MEET: Hanny Ahern


October 8, 2015
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Hanny Ahern.

Location and hometown.

New York City, Connecticut.

What do you do?

Create art and loophole to activate others to make art or themselves.

How long have you been doing what you do? Why did you start?

In retrospect I have been doing the same thing all of my life. I started creating as an alternative route to high school. My first installation was in the high school bathrooms.The head custodian sponsored my independent study and I painted everything. I have always collaborated with the people who know the loopholes and can get it done. I started making fashion when I was 14, going to F.I.T. At 19, I began to draw and create fine art. Later I introduced interactive design to my scope. Now it’s all in there working together.

Where is your favorite place to go for inspiration and why?

I love to go places I’ve never been. I like to have my mind blown and feel I am at the edge of what I know. I recently went to Kenya and that was very inspiring. More locally, I can find inspiration almost anywhere. Chinatown anywhere in the world always gives me something to chew on. I’m a sponge — I can get inspiration staring at the ceiling.

Freeform list of inspirations.

Attention, light, patterns, limits of humanity, structure, emergence, emoji.

Who are your favorite people to collaborate with and what does collaboration bring to your work?

In my view, all good collaborations have a shared core and go through a little bit of friction. I like to work with people who are really up to it. A true collaboration should have both people in a strange mix of confidence and discomfort. I enjoy collaborating with the Stream team at Stream Gallery, Angelina Dreem on Powrplnt, Sarah Kantharia on SBK collaborative. and City As High School teens on independant project.  

Your best wisdom to other creators?

All creative work begins with an honesty with yourself. Be honest with yourself, then tell yourself lies to get through it and down to it.

All good collaborations have friction — more than one person extends themselves and all have to stay grounded. Through the friction, the new thing comes which, of course, is the point of collaborating. Collaboration is different from getting help or assistance — it’s a true extension into merging a vision. It’s hard, fun and rewarding.

Most importantly, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. And just because you don’t need to, doesn’t mean you should not.

What’s your earliest memory?

Staring at various wallpapers and people. Trying to build a treehouse by myself and endlessly failing to prop up a stick.

Share your favorite recipe?

Cooking is my first nature. I don’t use recipes,

What’s your favorite smell?

Melting wax, autumn.

What’s your last memorable dream?

I recently dreamed that I couldn’t find my eyebrows — it was insane. I would see them, but when I went to touch them they were gone again.

Best life hack?

Baking soda and coconut oil for almost anything. Srsly. Bath, toothbrushing, house cleaning, sticker removal, face exfoliation… the list goes on.

If you were a perfume, what would you smell like?

Citrus — pungent and energizing.

Have you ever seen a ghost?


What’s your most unbelievable story?

Wanna hang out? This could take some unfolding.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Since I was young I have claimed that I want to be a “surprise” when I grow up. Not much has changed, but I know I will be creating and facilitating others to do so. There is no going back now.

What’s something we should get into?

Your childhood interests. There is something magic about going back to propel forward.

Guiltiest pleasure?

Horrible, bad music. On repeat.

Have you ever had an out-of-body experience?

Yes. I feel like that is always a parallel option.

Have you ever been abducted by aliens?

I’m waiting.

What’s your alter ego’s name?

Old man with a pipe.

First crush?

His name was Eric. It was nursery school. I invited him as the only boy to my birthday party under the conditions that he must chase me around the house the whole time. Somehow this is still very vivid.

Current crush?

Crushing hard on life.

Do you have any rituals for getting into the creative zone?

I am relatively impulsive, so I have to fixate. I may use repetitive music and wear the same outfit while I’m working for an extended period. It’s like a superstition — if i change the outfit or the song I might lose the flow.

When I’m not in that kind of flow I change my outfit 8-10 times a day.

Do you lucid dream?

I used to have this crazy thing called hypnagogia — it’s like sleep paralysis. It’s a painful, lucid awareness of the dream state — a loud noise in your ear and a paralyzed body. Lucid dreaming sounds like controlling some beautiful video game in your mind. I’m not there yet, but I do occasionally make decisions in the dream space. Hey, it’s just as real as the wake space.

What do you eat at 4 am?  

Trail mix.

What do you want to be remembered for?

Facilitating the creative mind and radical changes in work. Bringing an idea and making that real.

Favorite places to eat, shop, hang out, and visit in your city?

Bamboo Tropical in Ridgewood.

What’s the perfect movie night line up?

Stand By Me. La BambaEmpire Records.

You’re never fully dressed without a….(fill in the blank)

An honest look at yourself. 😉

What do you want to learn how to do?

I’m addicted to learning. I’m actually trying to cut back right now. It’s a touchy subject.

What artist (living or dead) would you most want to do a portrait of you?

Francis Bacon.

What makes you happy?

Making visions become realities, working with humans.

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