Artist Interview: Taylor Hayes


Taylor Hayes/Copyright Taylor Hayes Art

L. N. Holmes: “Where is your hometown?”
Taylor Hayes: “My hometown is Roanoke, Virginia. It is about 2 hours north of where I currently live, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It’s not too far, but just far enough.”

L. N. Holmes: “What is your chosen artistic profession?”
Taylor Hayes: “
As a visual artist (visit Taylor Hayes’s official site), I work in mixed media, which basically means whenever I create a piece I use multiple mediums in overlapping layers. Sometimes those mediums are acrylic paint, pencil, pen, marker, collage, screen printing, you name it. I stick to 2-dimensional art for the most part and sometimes I play around with design but my main focus is on printmaking and painting.

“I’m also an arts administrator at a local nonprofit community art school called Sawtooth School for Visual Art. I oversee the organization’s digital marketing and coordinate the digital art programming as well. Sometimes I get to put together creative projects or teach classes which is the fun part.”

L. N. Holmes: “Why did you choose to become a visual artist and art administrator?”
Taylor Hayes: “I’ve always loved creating art and one of my earliest memories is spending hours doodling at the kitchen table. In essence, I can’t imagine art not being a part of my life. In college I started out studying the visual arts but fell in love with the administrative side, and decided to pursue arts management in addition to studio art.”

L. N. Holmes: “What messages do you try to communicate through your art to those who view it?”
Taylor Hayes: “My artwork focuses a lot on color and texture. No matter what the medium or the series, I tend to try and invite the viewer to step closer to enjoy the layers and texture of the piece.

“A recent series of mine was all about memories and trying to convey those memories through the use of text versus imagery. Most of the imagery was subdued or nonexistent depending on the emotion of that memory.

“In the last 6 months I finished up a big commission that took a few months of work. Since then I’ve been focusing on work that has less of a subject matter and is more of an experimentation with color, texture, and composition — freedom from rules and boundaries.”

L. N. Holmes: “What are your favorite materials to work with?”
Taylor Hayes: 
“My favorite materials are found objects or papers that have a mysterious, unknown past. I’ve also made collages completely of trash found on the ground and paintings of houses on deteriorating wood panel. To me, brand new shiny materials from the store aren’t as inspiring to create art from because they don’t have a story — even if I don’t know what that story is.”

L. N. Holmes: “What was it like to join the Sawtooth School for Visual Art as a staff member? What’s your favorite thing about being part of this organization? How has it helped you grow as an artist?”
Taylor Hayes: “
Joining the Sawtooth staff about a year and a half ago was a dream come true. I never thought I’d leave college with a full-time job in a position that fulfilled my degree. The combination of a little luck and a lot of hard work paid off in my case. I spent a summer teaching and two semesters interning at Sawtooth before joining full-time.

“My favorite thing about this organization is being constantly surrounded by so many creative people and ideas. In theory, I could do digital marketing anywhere, but being at Sawtooth allows me to stretch myself as an artist and arts administrator. It is really the best of both worlds for me. I also think that working for a nonprofit organization, you have to be creative and innovative with you’re resources (both time and money). Sawtooth is allowing me to grow in a variety of ways — artistically and professionally.”


An installation piece made from a broken Polaroid camera, found on the sidewalk in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. (Copyright Taylor Hayes Art)

L. N. Holmes: “Where do you sell your art?”
Taylor Hayes: “I don’t currently sell my work online but that is a 6 month goal of mine — to have an online store on my website. Currently, I sell work when I have an exhibit — I recently had a show and art sales at the Olio — and also in the gift shop at Sawtooth. There is a new place in Winston-Salem, called Camel City News & Gifts, which I am looking into using as a retail space for my art as well.”

L. N. Holmes: “How do you support other artists?”
Taylor Hayes: “The biggest way I support artists is by attending their openings and exhibits. I’m a big fan of Gallery Hops in downtown, Winston-Salem, and if you ask anyone they’d tell you that I only miss a Gallery Hop for emergencies or vacations. I also try to cross-promote artists’ events through my own social media channels and blog if I can.”

L. N. Holmes: “What’s your biggest complaint about the visual art industry?”
Taylor Hayes: “It’s hard for me to immediately have a complaint about the visual arts, but something that bothers me is that so many people think that you are either good or bad at art and that’s the end of it. To some extent, yes, some people have a natural talent for drawing or painting realistically but most successful artists are excellent at their craft because they work really hard and practice, practice, practice.

“In museums, what you often see is the immaculate finished painting and what you don’t see is the 10 sketchbooks pages, the 5 rough paintings, or the research notes behind that immaculate painting. On the other hand, just because you can draw a portrait that looks very realistic, does that really mean you are a great artist?

“Art’s not always about duplicating what you see. In fact, most times art is about conveying emotion and expressing something which requires skill about the medium, color theory, and sometimes a little science. Being a successful artist is a lot of work, no matter how talented you may be.”

L. N. Holmes: “What/who inspires you?”
Taylor Hayes: “I love collaboration and community-focused art projects. One of my favorites is The Sketchbook Project which is based in Brooklyn. Basically, you purchase a sketchbook from them, they send it to you, and you finish it up and mail it back by a certain deadline. Once they receive it, it goes on a mobile tour around the U.S., where people can check out your sketchbook to view while the mobile library is open. After the tour is finished, your sketchbook becomes a part of the permanent library in Brooklyn. I love this creative spreading and sharing concept. They also have some fun projects such as the Pen Pal Painting Exchange and the Print Exchange, which I’m participating in this fall.”

L. N. Holmes: “What would you recommend to others trying to break into the visual art industry?”
Taylor Hayes: “I would say that it’s not a no-work game. Most people think that being an artist full-time is this dreamy lifestyle that is very privileged. In reality, there is still a lot of the grunt work that has to be done, such as marketing, inventory, taxes, paperwork, etc. Don’t go into it thinking it’s easy and you’ll probably be less shocked with the outcome and more prepared for the work load.”

L. N. Holmes: “Name a few of your favorite books and why they are your favorites.”
Taylor Hayes: 
I’m not so much a reader, but I’m a big fan of sketchbooks. One of my favorite authors is Keri Smith, who put together Wreck This Journal. It’s a really fun, empty journal that puts the reader through all kinds of creative prompts such as ‘tape up the edges of this book and mail it to yourself’ or ‘wash this page and then put it back in the book.’

“Another one of my favorites is the 1000 Journals Projectwhich sent 1000 blank journals out into the world that were passed on from stranger to stranger. Once full, some returned to the owners and some were still circulating. The journals that were returned were converted into a published community sketchbook, which is very inspiring.”

L. N. Holmes: “Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers?”
Taylor Hayes: 
When you make a choice to buy something, always opt to support local artists when possible. Whether that’s a locally knitted sweater or a small framed print, supporting artists is more meaningful and has more impact on the economy.”

To contact Taylor Hayes to purchase works of art — or for questions, comments, or praise — please click here.

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Artist Interview: Chuck Marshall | A Vase of Wildflowers

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