S A M A N T H A H A H N
Illustrator and Creative Director Samantha Hahn is one of the most intuitive, dedicated, and talented people you will ever meet. Looking through the archives of the prolific watercolors she has created for everyone from the CFDA to Vogue Japan, is a dreamy deep dive into a rainbow of color and a glimpse into Sam's magnanimous imagination. We peek behind the curtain into her personal world as a wife and mother in Brooklyn, and talk about the role of family, identity and spirituality Samantha lives by.
Samantha shows her kids childhood letters from her school friends.
What does identity mean to you?
"That’s an ever evolving question. I’m always trying to be my best self and do my best and that sometimes means reframing the way I see myself in relation to what and who is around me. At the end of the day, identity to me is the meeting point of who I am inside and outside."
How would you define your identity?
"Passionate about my work, creative, lover, friend, mother."
Do you have a personal philosophy to live by?
"The process is more important than the product."
What are your words of wisdom to yourself?
Be kind. Speak to yourself the way you speak to others.
Most recent thing you learned about yourself?
"That I am more in control of my thought processes than I previously believed."
Samantha wears her mom's vintage dress, and daughter Viv wear's a dress Samantha wore as a little girl, looking through her dad's old records.
How do you balance work and relationships? How do prioritize spending time with friends and loved ones?
"My family is my raison d’être, my friends bring me joy. Without either everything would be meaningless. That being said, I pour so much of my energy into my work because I love it so much and it gives me purpose. As a freelancer the lines are all blurred. I don’t have a great work life balance so I try to be physically and emotionally present to my family and friends blocking off periods of time when we’re together and I’m not constantly checking in on work."
Tell us about your balance of mindfulness and technology.
"This is something I struggle with. As aforementioned I am a freelancer so I do have to check my phone when I’m around friends and family. I know it’s not healthy and I’ve been making a concerted effort to have periods of time that my phone is out of my reach so I’m not tempted to just check it."
Daughter Viv wear's Samantha's childhood hat.
What does spirituality mean to you?
"I don’t know that I can fully define what spirituality means to me. I have had grand spiritual experiences in nature, surrounded by stunning scenery. That being said, I think deep moments of joy spending time with my family are the heart of my spiritual life."
Are there objects or experiences that create pathways to spirituality for you?
"Celebrating holidays with family always brings me back to looking at the whole of my life and how I’ve grown and loved these people and introduced my children into the tribe and at the same time there’s a bitterness because of the people who are no longer with us and who live strongly in my memory in the context of these celebrations. Thinking about my dad always reminds me of family celebrations with table full of food. He loved hosting holidays and having loved ones at the table."
What are your morning/bedtime rituals?
"The day starts with morning cuddles with the kids and breakfast as a family. At night after putting the kids to bed we usually spend more time at our desks tying up loose ends then we get together and cuddle up to watch a movie and chat and drink our decaf coffee. Lastly, we wash up and curl up in bed with our books or magazines."
"My favorite way to unwind is spending time outdoors. I love a long long walk. My favorite date night with my husband is a rambling walk across the Bridge from Brooklyn and through Chinatown. The best chats happen here."
Did you grow up with any family traditions? Any you still celebrate or might pass down?
"Mainly holidays. We’re not religious but I love carrying on the tradition of gathering to share a meal and celebrate life and love and family."
Have you created new family traditions?
"On Christmas, as a family we get Dim Sum in Chinatown and then walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to the Dumbo waterfront. With my two oldest girlfriends we always feel like we don’t get enough time together so at least once a year we leave town for a sleepover. The talking doesn’t stop from the car ride to the dinner, through the night and all the next morning. It’s like we’re in 6th grade again."
Are there ways that you create the feeling of “oasis” in your home?
"Yes, having a studio here is great but it does blur the lines. I love keeping the living room serene and free of work. I want it to feel like a sanctuary so I can create a divide between where my work happens and where family and downtime happens."
What is the best thing you and your husband have learned from each other?
"To love and be each other’s best friend and support but in the way the other person defines support."
Photography by Yumi Matsuo