Hello, how may I call you during this interview?
Hi, you can call me Hayward.
We did notice that many artists have pseudo names. How did you chose yours? Does it have some links to politics?
No, there is nothing political about my pseudonym, it’s merely my middle names. It makes life easier keeping illustration and my abstract work as separate entities.
So Hayward, could you please, introduce yourself to us?
I am an abstract painter. I spent my younger years in Shrewsbury Shropshire, a rare beautiful medieval town which I still visit often. My art education was spent studying at Wrexham College before moving to Falmouth College of Art. Falmouth was wonderful as it was right on the sea front. After I graduated my path took the direction of illustration, which has been my main area of creativity for over 20 years, it is only recently that abstract painting has become a more prominent part of my life.
How would you, as an abstract painter, describe your profession in five words?
Hard, rewarding, stressful, liberating, frustrating.
What is the most challenging part about being an artist for you?
For me, it’s about knowing when to stop. There are times when I am consumed by a piece of work. I need to step back and reflect on what is being created. The creative industry is competitive and it’s hard to make your mark on the world.
Think it is common to most of the creatives. Do you have a regular agenda?
I have a loose agenda of what I would like to achieve by a certain time, but things change, life can get in the way so I don’t like to plan too far ahead.
True, you need to adjust and be keen to change some of your plans. OK, let’s open up a wider conversation about your profession: what’s your work process & how do projects actually start, change and finish?
I will usually select a large canvas, I like the sense of scale and they just work for me. If I am looking for similar tones in my paintings then I will work on more than one, that way there is cohesion that will link the work in some way. Mostly though I work on individual pieces. You can have days where bam! A painting just works, all the elements come together, the strokes, colors and textures. There are other days when a painting can take on many forms until complete. This is great though as it gives me time to step back and rethink my original vision. All of my work is acrylic with a gesso base, which adds an initial texture to the start of a painting. The texture can be subtle or more gutsy depending on what I am trying to achieve. Acrylic is then applied until the desired effect is achieved.
What inspire you?
Music is a great inspiration to me. I always work with music playing, it’s a fundamental force behind my paintings. Colors may vary depending on what I’m listening to at the time. I am also working on a series of paintings, which have more of a bearing to the landscape the Highlands of Scotland have to offer, in particular, the Scottish winters. The natural color and textures found in this rich environment is a pure joy for an artist.
How your personality is reflected in your art?
I’m a quiet reserved, shy person really, but my paintings allow me to break out from this in a bold confident way. I let my work speak for me and leave my work open for the viewer to interpret.
Aha, that’s why it’s so little information about you on the internet :). How many hours per week you usually spend painting, planning & preparing things?
That really depends on the week. I try to work at least a couple of hours a day. I try to paint as many full days as possible, which is not always easy. I make my own frames for my work too, this takes up a lot of time and is a lengthy process. I feel framing a painting draws the viewer in to the piece of work.
When you spend so much time and effort to make a painting, how do you decide what to charge for your work?
You have to detach yourself from your work. It seems an odd thing to say but some of my work feels like family to me now. All of my work is for sale, but there are pieces you do grow attached to, selling them is like watching your children leaving home. I try to keep my prices affordable.
May I ask how do you combine creative work with business handling, PR, marketing, accounting etc.?
I find it tough, being a creative is the enjoyable side of things.
Heh, no doubt. So how you handle it?
With illustration the agency handles everything, they take care of promotion, accounts, licensing of work etc. which helps me focus more creatively. With my paintings it is a case of getting my work out there, creating a web site, promoting work in various publications and sourcing gallery space. Galleries can be tricky as with such a high demand for space it can take months before an opportunity to exhibit arises.
How much, do you think, location affect work & career in general? How did you chose yours?
Well, I could work almost anywhere, but I do think that if you have a happy working environment it does channel through into your creative process. My wife and I loved the idea of Scotland as a place to relocate. The Highlands has some truly breathtaking landscape.
That’s why it was called ‘the Highland’. Speaking of great things, which project you’re mostly proud of as a painter?
That would have to be ‘The Failings Of A Fallen Angel’. It was a painting I worked on for many weeks. I would keep coming back to it, I had a love hate relationship with it, but the final incarnation was better than my original vision.
Is it for sale?
It will be for sale at /neim/, but I have been tempted to keep it.
Passion & influence
Yes, I assume that it’s tough to let go your most favorite, even if you make a living from painting. Do you remember when you felt a crush on creativity for the very first time?
When my brother who was already studying at art college kept telling me to give up work and go to college. I had been working a regular uninteresting job for five years, so I said, why not. I have been a creative ever since.
Did your parents work in the creative field? Do you think creativity lies in the genes?
Creative is in our genes. My father was a talented artist. He was a postman all his life, but had a natural talent as an artist. He would always draw portraits of my brother and I as children. He was particular good with oils and would produce some beautiful wildlife paintings.
He was definitely a major influence in my life as a creative.
What about the college?
Art college gave me a good base with which to explore. It was quite disciplined and structured but I loved every minute of it. When you have tutors who are passionate about what they are teaching, it just makes the whole experience a joy. Although I had such a great time I much prefer the freedom of being an independent artist these days.
In retrospect would you choose studies or internship?
I think an internship would have been interesting but the opportunity was never there.
What other interests do you have outside of art?
Photography is an important part of my life, I love working in b&w as this tends to concentrate the eye on the image more. I’m also a keen trail runner. Living in the Highlands gives me great opportunity to explore the forests and hills that are on my doorstep. I like the idea of making unique quality bird boxes, sort of boutique homes for birds!
That’s very interesting, but how does the idea was born to become an abstract painter, not a photographer or a forest man?
I’ve been running the illustration business now for over twenty years now. Becoming an abstract painter for me was a natural progression from illustration. Although both are creative, painting is a way of breaking away form the highly commercial world of illustration.
Did you take a lot of time to plan things or did you have the idea and jump in right away? How did you convert the idea into reality?
I bought a number of canvases many years ago with the intention of producing abstract work. Abstract art is quite a new direction for me and has developed over a relatively short space of time. I just felt that the time was right, I converted the garage into a very small, but workable space and it is there that I put all the time I can into producing my work.
I wouldn’t even say that it’s a garage! It’s so bright and cozy, feels like a proper studio. How did you sold your first paintings as an independent painter?
I sold my first painting through the Saatchi Art website. The piece was featured in one of their catalogues and was bought by an American client in California. The second was a client who bought a piece directly from my web site. I think the third was to an acquaintance who was a great lover of art of all kinds.
And how long did it take you?
These have sold in a relatively short period of time.
Did you have unpaid collaborations when you started?
I’ve had no unpaid projects or collaborations.
OK then, do you think it’s a good or bad to have unpaid projects in general?
I don’t think it is a bad thing, it’s all promotion at the end of the day, and you never know what else could happen off the back of it.
True! Speaking of promotion, it isn’t so easy to find your work. Do you use media/social media/exhibitions in promoting yourself and getting clients?
Well, this is an area I need to work on. I don’t deal with much social media but realize it’s a great platform to put yourself out there.
What are your top 5 resources that helped you with your career?
Initially I put my work on an established art website. There are many artists selling their work this way, and it may be hard to find your work among the masses but it is a good starting point. Create my own website, this way I can have complete control on the way my work is seen by potential buyers. A professional looking website shows that you care about presentation and how you are perceived. YouTube is great just for connecting with other creatives. It’s interesting to see how other artists work and it can be an inspiration and motivation to keep going when things are not going the way you planned. Having feedback from people about my work is good to have. I am my own worst critic and have no problem with negative feedback regarding my work, in fact I welcome it. My work will not appeal to everyone, but then it’s not supposed to.
What are the best lessons you had to learn while working as an independent artist and painter?
It’s no easy path to take by any means. It helps to have another means of sustainable income just to keep you ticking over. Persevere, have belief in what you are doing and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.
Not sure if there are any easy ways these days anymore. What best advice you could give for those who seeks to be in your profession?
You have to have commitment. Try and make time for your work.
If you feel you have a busy lifestyle steal whatever time you can.
Where do you want to go with your career? Is there something you really dream of doing?
To be able to commit to painting full time and be internationally recognized.
That’s a very nice wish. Fingers crossed you’ll reach this, as we think you’re a very good at painting. Speaking of plans, how far do you allow yourself to plan things ahead?
I don’t like to plan too far ahead. I have just received confirmation for an exhibition for May 2019, a lot could happen between now and then.
That’s a super news! Congrats! Told you that you’re a great painter, but let’s imagine for a second – if you weren’t in your profession, what would you do & where would you live?
I can’t imagine doing anything else, this is what I love.
OK, but if you really had to make a choice?
If I really had to make a choice then it would be a photographer. Photography has changed so much over the years, now anyone can pick up a phone a suddenly they are photographers. I would love to go back to SLR’s the good old days before digital photography, you had to think more about your compositions more. There was a magic to it all back then.
Would it be any specific place on Earth? Why?
I would love to live in Switzerland. Why? I know the highlands are beautiful but Switzerland just takes it to a different level, simply jaw dropping scenery.
Speaking of beautiful things, we are happy to see our community growing and proud to have you at /neim/ creative family! Can you share what was your main points of choosing to take a part in /neim/?
To have an opportunity to join a group of talented artistic individuals. The products available from the selected creatives have a uniqueness about them and are of a very high standard and quality. I feel very privileged to be a part of this family.
And we feel exited to have you and showcase your beautiful original paintings exclusively at /neim/ shop next to other unique and exclusive pieces. By the way, what is your favorite piece from the collection, apart of yours? :)
I admire the work of Richard Gaston. The tones to each of his pieces are rather beautiful and he has a definite style to his work. There are other creatives I admire too, but a good photograph always gets my attention.
To be honest, I thought you might like Richard’s work. The last question we had dedicated to Kollektiv Plus Zwei (another /neim/ creative family member) and they’re wondering: “The titles of your artworks are often sentences which articulate a thought… Is it a choice? What’s behind it?”
I think it’s a way of drawing the viewer in, it articulates a thought. It is very much a choice. To me it is very important that a painting has a fitting title. I listen to music constantly, and I’m always jotting down a lyric or a song title that I feel would work well alongside a particular piece. I have a notebook which I carry with me and will fill it with random words or part of a sentence I may hear which a feel could work.
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