Fauna in fashion: highlighting our endangered wildlife with style

Artist Cathy Hansby is passionate about Aotearoa’s beautiful fauna. Working from her Auckland home, she loves creating stylish, vibrant and modern artworks featuring local birdlife from New Zealand and Australasia, using traditional and digital tools.


What do you make?
I create engaging images, celebrating the unique and endangered wildlife of New Zealand and Australasia. Combining personality and fun with vibrant colour!

How did you get into your craft?
I’ve always loved drawing, and when my kids were young I rediscovered my interest in drawing. Previously I worked in fashion and interiors, in design and styling, so illustration has been a natural progression.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I studied visual arts and have a BA in Fashion Technology at AUT, but drawing is something I’ve always done.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
My favourite tools are pen and paper to sketch ideas, and coloured pens. The iPad and pencil are great for drawing on the go too.


Tell us about some of the techniques involved in producing one of your pieces?
I research international trends, so my images work with seasonal colours and interior schemes. I do lots of sketching, refining and reducing images to create simple outlines. I edit and colour images using Illustrator and Photoshop for final touches. I recently began drawing on an iPad which has been amazing, with more freedom to play with scale and design.

What inspires you?
I’m inspired by colour and global design, by architecture and sculpture, by shapes and contrasts. Spending time in nature and having close encounters with our amazing wildlife.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
My work often features our endangered species, because they’re so unique to our place in the world, and remind us how close we are to losing some of them. All prints come with their own story, to educate and spread awareness. I’m proud to be supplying NZ Forest & Bird and supporting the incredible work they do.

Describe your creative process
I love working with the latest colours and creating simple, timeless images. I take lots of photos, look through books and images online, seeking the right angles, expressions and details. I also enjoy researching, observing and engaging with birds and animals.

Describe your workspace
My workspace is in the hub of the home. I work between my sketchpad, iPad and desktop, and often work on the go. It’s great to be able to work anywhere, and get ideas down. My desk is a busy place, with designs in development and new colour palettes.



Four words that describe your mind
Multitasker, daydreamer, optimistic, creative.

Your favourite feedback from a customer?
It’s always great to hear from people who have my prints on their walls, and enjoy them so much they come back for more.

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
I’ve always loved the Little Miss and Mr books, the bold, vibrant images define the characters so simply. I’m enjoying them all over again by reading them to my kids!

What are you reading now?
Mr Cool and Little Miss Hug (with the kids).

Who is your hero/heroine? Why?
Wonder Woman – she’s brave, strong, elegant, and powerful!

A favourite quote?
Less is more.


What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Believe in your product and give it a go!

What’s in store for the rest of 2018?
Lot of new prints in sea green, dove grey and black and white, featuring local birdlife from New Zealand and our neighbours in Australasia.

Prize draw!

Cathy has very kindly offered a beautiful prize for one lucky Felt reader of an A4 framed print of your choice from her Felt shop! If you would like to be in to win a vibrant Hansby Design print, let us know in a comment what you enjoyed reading about Cathy’s story and her gorgeous artwork. The draw closes at 5pm on Monday 3 September and is open to New Zealand residents only.


20 thoughts on “Fauna in fashion: highlighting our endangered wildlife with style

  1. Wow, so many amazing comments! I hope that I can inspire and encourage budding creatives out there, thanks for all your feedback!

  2. I love how you say you love working with pen, paper and coloured pens. My 7 year old is passionate about native NZ birds and when she is being dragged around to siblings activities, she’s constantly entertained with those materials too. Love your work!

  3. I love that you are reading Mr Cool and Little Miss Hug as I have a 6 year old boy and a 4 year old girl who match those book titles very nicely. Also in our house we all have bird names. My son is a ruru and daughter is a piwakawaka so your artwork would be a great gift for them.

  4. I love the designs – they are so good that one can recognize the birds, and yet they are simple in form. I also appreciate that Cathy features endangered species – this is a good reminder for all of us to protect them. I am also encouraged to give my ideas a try after reading Cathy’s comment about believing in one’s products and giving it a go! Thank you, Cathy. All the best for the future with your beautiful designs! 🙂

  5. As an artist myself I find it always interesting how other artists work, their process and tools, passions and interests, motivations and their backgrounds. So, I enjoyed reading the whole interview and I really admire your work ? so beautiful! Nadine

  6. I find it really interesting that you work on your ipad & can be still be so individually creative. Love your work & links to New Zealands beautiful wildlife

  7. Your artwork is just beautiful! And I love the’giving back’ to Forest and Bird, definitely a cause worthy of support. Keep up the wonderful work

  8. Thanks Alana for your lovely feedback, great to hear you like the Morepork!
    Will add the magnets and keyrings to Felt very soon 🙂

  9. It was interesting to note the link to global trends in style and colour and the interest in endangered animals. Love your work.

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