Shane Hansen


All Shane Hansen prints currently available are in stock here at NZ Fine Prints, NZ experts in fine art prints since 1966. The essence of Shane Hansen's prints is a strong, clean line. Hansen has drawn constantly for as long as he can remember, but has never indulged in intricate doodles dredged up from the dark recesses of the mind. Instead, his creations spring from a world of bold colours and optimistic clarity, a pop-art invitation to a feel-good New-Zealand celebration. But to overstate the simplicity of his work is also to underestimate it, as its approachability is often a friendly invitation to deeper contemplation. The word ‘whanau', for example, is buried in the black, white and red curves of a large screenprint and prompts reflection on the twisted, intricate nature of family ties. Another early work featured the word ‘Aroha', not cheerleading a one-sided celebration of this big emotion, but acknowledging its multilayered complexity. In these artworks, Shane is fusing his own Maori heritage and strong sense of family with his admiration for the clear graphic sensibility of the wharenui. Shane Hansen's creative development has commercial roots of which he is resolutely proud. He remembers watching his father, a former commercial artist, at the drawing board. He admires the work of graphic designers who developed artistic practices such as Gordon Walters, Dick Frizzell and, more recently, Wellingtonian Mark Ussher, whose brightly hued works emanate a similarly good-natured cheer. The environment Shane grew up in was rich in culture. The walls of the Hansen family home in Manurewa were covered in paintings by Shane's grandfather and great-grandfather, both of Danish origins and both amateur watercolourists. Shane's grandfather took his descendants on painting expeditions that actively encouraged deeper contemplation and appreciation of the landscapes and objects around them.

Hansen's mother's side of the family is a mixture of Chinese and Maori influences. His grandfather emigrated to New Zealand from China's Guangdong province and established a market garden in Pukekohe before starting what became a family of 14 children with Shane's grandmother, a woman of Tainui descent. Creativity seems to run deep on both sides of the family: a large proportion of Shane's cousins have pursued careers in art, writing, design, acting and music. Shane studied art at high school but began his professional life as a fashion designer. He commandeered the sewing machine on which his mother had worked from home churning out nylon jackets and created the label Vampire, a series of jackets, shirts and t-shirts in bold colours decorated with cartoon characters he illustrated himself. He later designed garments for the International surf label T&C and New Zealand fashion stalwarts Canterbury. He then trained as a graphic designer, eventually combining these two disciplines at Fly, where he was co-founder and creative director, carving out a niche creating innovative marketing and design strategies for corporate clients and retail stores. But despite his appreciation for the rigours of the commercial world, the limitations imposed by clients still felt, well, limiting. So Shane decided on a less restrictive form of creative expression, one that placed him firmly in control. He now designs his works at home, usually producing them in concentrated bursts of creativity that he fits in between time spent with his wife Kirsty and their son Nikau.

Despite his departure from the commercial world, Shane Hansen's prints are still informed by a tension between his desire to express himself and the need to please an audience. "I'm caught between wanting to do something where I don't care what people think and wanting to do something that has mass appeal," he says. The line between these competing desires may seem blurred, but each of Shane's works serves as an elegant clarification of it.