Maria Hatling is a Norwegian artist who has lived in London for the last 15 years and since 2013 has worked from Cockpit Arts in Holborn. Earlier this year, she was selected from an open call to a-n members to design a logo to celebrate a-n’s 40th Anniversary.

She describes her colour palette as “informed by many sources”, and explains: “l always carry with me the colours of the sky, the beach and the mountains where I grew up. My childhood in Norway has given me my base palette, my love for all shades of blues, browns and greens. These are colours I always come back to.”

Firstly, thank you Maria for designing the logo to celebrate a-n’s 40th! What made you answer the open call to our members?

The open call caught my eye in one of your emails to members. I instantly felt that I had a clear idea of how an anniversary logo could work as a colour-coordinated logo system so I decided to take a chance and voice my interest.

As well as being a painter, you have a background in textile design. How did your experience in both of these fields feed into your 40th Anniversary logo?

While developing the logo I knew I wanted it to be a hand painted brush stroke font. I wanted the logo to be about all the individual members that make up a-n so I felt the logo needed to express individual creativity. I found hand-painting the logo using a quick brush stroke gave the right momentum and creative energy that I was seeking to communicate. Later in the development I introduced a repeated pattern of the number 40 – this was a logical addition given my background in textile design and the repeat elements quickly started to increase the overall visual impact of the logo design.

Your abstract paintings are characterised by bold and sensitive use of colour and form that achieve a sense of balance on the canvas. The colours you have used in your logo are also very striking. What informs your choices of colour?

In my painting practice I work with colour in a specific way. I collect colour stories in the form of photographs wherever I go – on my way to the studio, going back to Norway and on my travels – and I bring these back to the studio where they act as a catalyst for the colour work I use within my painting.

For the a-n logo colour palette I wanted the colours to be gender neutral so each colour was chosen for its associated qualities. I chose the chartreuse for its uplifting zing; the green for its environmental and natural associations, blue for its calming effect and the brown to ground the whole palette. It was important that the overall feel of my colour palette would be interesting and celebratory without being so loud that it would feel shouty.

As an artist you work with various processes and at different scales, including painting on to large canvases on your studio floor, to smaller works on paper and works that are stitched. Can you tell us about some of these processes and the effect that stitching has on your paintings?

I paint on canvas and paper using mostly acrylic paint, but also watercolour, spray paint, pastels and oil crayons. I stitch into my paintings both on canvas and paper. I find it equally petrifying and calming to make permanent holes in my paintings. Stitching adds another very tactile layer to the work. By adding this detail, the surface of the painting becomes increasingly interesting and the work feels complete. This is especially prominent when you experience the work in real life.

What impact has the Covid-19 pandemic had on your work this year?

During the spring lockdown I was not able to get to my studio which forced me to work on smaller paintings at my kitchen table. Initially I resented being forced to work small but the outcome was positive. In the end, I really liked some of these smaller works I created during this time.

All of the art fairs I was planning to take part in this year have been cancelled but the organisers have been trying their best to promote the work though digital open studios. I also took part in a digital open studio within my own studios, Cockpit Arts. During the summer we put on a digital ‘Festival of Making’ consisting of virtual informal studio visits, webinars, live painting sessions and other events showcasing our work. About 90 artists and designers took part in the summer event and I’m also taking part in our winter event due to run the whole of December as well. I did a round of the brilliant Artist Support Pledge on Instagram this spring and will offer some more smaller works for sale under #ArtistSupportPledge leading up to Christmas.

What do you have coming up?

I have been developing my studio practice in more depth over the past two years, shifting my focus from design to painting. At the moment I am working on a new series of paintings on paper. Hopefully the world will gradually open up a bit more next spring so we can get back to showcasing art in person again. I am hoping to show my work in broader contexts and I am very interested in taking part in residencies to continue the development of my personal visual language. I’m hopeful that things will get better and when they do art will be there to inspire and influence.

See more of Maria’s work at and on Instagram

1. Maria Hatling and her work, Cockpit Arts, London. Photo: Joana Nunes
2. a-n’s 40th Anniversary logo, created by Maria Hatling
3. a-n’s 40th Anniversary logo, created by Maria Hatling
4. Maria Hatling’s studio, Cockpit Arts, London. Photo: Joana Nunes
5. Maria Hatling working in her studio at Cockpit Arts, London. Photo: Joana Nunes