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Shane Hansen wearing his Life is Beautiful bum huggers

Shane Hansen

This is all about celebrating life. The tui features in a lot of my work because he's my kaitiaki. He symbolises pride and pushing yourself – having self-confidence. Tuis don't appear to me to be sitting around moping about things. They're always out there pushing the limits and singing proudly, and they're dynamic, so I created an entire flock of them! The motif in the background represents a sense of rhythm, the organic nature of life and the growing and the intertwining because we're all interconnected.

Meet the Artist Part 1: Shane Hansen

Portrait photo by Stephen Tilley Video edit by Tiny Knight

Meet the Artist Part 2: Shane Hansen

On growing up in a creative family…

Creativity is something that is intrinsically a part of me. My dad was a commercial artist and his side of the family were all amateur artists so art was something that I was always surrounded by – a lot of painting and illustration. I tapped into creativity at an early age and it was always fostered and encouraged by my family. 

On starting a career in creative arts… 

During high school I started grabbing fabric and cutting it up; designing patterns and making my own clothes. I did a short course at AUT and started my own streetwear brand around 19 years old and, naive as I was, just went out there and started selling it. It started me off on a journey.

On how life changed with fatherhood…

It was having our boy Nikau, who's now 11, that really changed my life. The magnitude of being a parent didn't hit me until my son was actually in front of us. It really shocked me big time and made me face up to a lot of these things I hadn't really been addressing through my life. I went into a real bad depression and couldn't work – I just couldn't do much at all, really. When I started coming through that depression and seeing the light – with a lot of love and support from my partner Kristy and other family members – I started painting and drawing. I thought, “Hey, I think I can do this. This is what I need to be.” It was the best thing that could have happened, really. And since then I haven't ever looked back. I'm glad that such a life change came out of a crisis.

On being an active parent…

Become a parent made me realise life wasn't just about me anymore. And I needed to get right physically, mentally, and emotionally because there was a little guy that relied on me to be there.

Now I have two boys and because my partner Kristy and I co-parent, I adapt my work hours around the time I’m with them. They know me so well and I know them so well and we have a really good relationship.

On living in Tutukaka…

Both Kristy and I work for ourselves and decided to find a place where we could enjoy the boys while they were young – a place we could can enjoy the outdoors and have a more relaxed lifestyle – so we moved from Auckland to Tutukaka. Here, we've got six bays within four kilometres of home. We just walk along the road to these different beaches that you're lucky to have a few people on.

On being inspired by nature…

Inspiration is a very sensory thing. So, say for example, we can go for a walk and sit on the top of the hill and be looking at the view on the day. But it might just be the way that the wind's blowing the breeze or the dry grass. It could be the warm glow in the morning or in the evening.