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Talking Shop with Artist Hayley Barry

You want to know the #1 thing I love about writing and journalism? Getting to interact with and learn from people infinitely more talented, creative, wise, kind, and awe-inspiring than me.

Hayley Barry is far and away one of those individuals. The Utah-based artist behind Type Affiliated is dedicated not only to making unique, one-of-a-kind art, but preserving a beautiful craft. Her resume boasts a lengthy list of impressive work: posters for Provo’s Rooftop Concert Series, murals in the newly-opened Love Letters Museum, local libraries, restaurants, and businesses, and incredible illustrations. She even created a special mural in coordination with a classroom makeover project for Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School with The Superhero Teacher. I know. AMAZING.

Hayley’s love for creating and her passion for the handmade and old-fashioned are what made me capital-letters EXCITED to talk with her. I know you’ll adore her as much as I do!

So without further ado: everyone, meet Hayley!

What is your earliest memory of making art?

I can’t remember not making art! For as long as I can remember I have been drawing. I used to sit at the kitchen counter for hours as a little tiny kid with a big stack of printer paper just drawing all day. As I got older I was always drawing at church or in class. I don’t think I ever turned in a school assignment that didn’t have a doodle on it somewhere! To this day I keep pens and pencils in my purse at all times (along with a box cutter and a pencil sharpener) and I draw everywhere I go whenever I have some down time. 

What motivated you to pursue a career in art and lettering? What has your journey been like to where you are now?

I always knew I wanted to be an artist, there was no doubt about it. I was pretty lucky to have lots of people in my life who did art for their career and made a great living doing it. I think a lot of kids have this idea that being an artist is an impractical career and that everyone who does it is a weird starving hippie, but that just isn’t true. Being an artist should be handled the same as owning any other kind of small business; it’s a creative field, but it also requires a lot of hard work, marketing, networking, bookkeeping and many other practical business skills. My Grandpa was a full-time graphic designer, my Uncle Guy was a children’s book illustrator and my next door neighbor was a painter and they all got along just fine. I was never worried about “not making it” as an artist because I knew a lot of people who did art and made a great living at it. However, I also understood very early on the work that goes into being a freelance artist. 

When I was a junior in high school I got my second job (my first job was when I was 14 working at a machine factory, if you want to accomplish anything in life, you need to know how to work) working at a local antique shop. It was wonderful! One day my boss asked me to make a sign that said “25% off” to put on a sofa, so I drew it out and made the letters look nice and added some flourishes. My boss was so impressed! He said “Wow! I had no idea you did hand-lettering!” I was surprised about that. To me, if a person can draw people, or cars, or whatever else then it only makes sense that they should be able to draw letters too. To me, lettering and illustration were the same thing. Pretty soon I was making signs for all over the store and people were buying them. After graduating high school I started going out to find my own clients and the rest is history.

Tell us about your experience painting the mural at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School.

When Brittany (the Superhero Teacher) invited me to come paint in Parkland Florida I couldn’t believe it. One of my goals for 2018 had been to paint a mural in another state, but I had assumed it would be somewhere closer to Utah, like Idaho or Colorado maybe. The whole thing was a pretty amazing experience. I was working with a team to re-decorate the classroom of one of the teachers who had lost her classroom and some of her students due to the shooting. The team was incredible and it was impressive watching them work! While we were working, we had a lot of teachers come in to see out progress and to talk. It was interesting talking to them, because as sad as the shooting was, life goes on. You can’t spend every day of your life feeling terrible about something that has happened in the past, you can only move forward and try to be the best you can. The teachers there were a good example of this. After the shooting, many teachers left the school, but the rest stayed because life goes on. 

When Brittany Sinitch, the teacher whose room we remodeled, saw the room she cried and cried. It was pretty cool to see her reaction and how grateful she was for the work we did. 

What is your creative process?

I don’t really have a creative process…unless getting crap done is a process. The fun thing about my job is that it’s different every day. Some days I work from home, some days I work on site, some days I do some of both. I think being flexible is an important part of what I do. I can’t afford to get too caught up in having everything a certain way in order for me to work because I work in all kinds of environments and situations. I’ve had to paint in 100 degree weather, in the snow, and up on a 20 foot ladder. So really my ability to adapt and work efficiently in any situation is what I do best.

Where do you get inspiration?

I collect old magazines from the 40’s and 50’s (once you hit the 60’s all the magazines go to crap) as well as a lot of antiques. I love anything old and I think going straight to the source is a great way to find inspiration. I also subscribe to Communication Arts magazine and Society of Illustrators because they showcase the best work being created in the world right now. It always amazes me how many people in art and design don’t read Communication Arts! The people in those magazines are the best right now, which means they’re also your competition. Having a good grasp on what is happening in the design world (the real design world, not what people are doing on Pinterest) is important to have a sense of what work is good and what work is just trendy. 

Who are your favorite artists?

My favorite dead artists are J.C. Leyendecker, Norman Rockwell and Edward Gorey. Leyendecker is the at best and simplifying shapes and creating dynamic compositions. Nobody does work like him. Rockwell is wonderful because he’s so good at storytelling. Edward Gorey is my very favorite for a lot of reasons. His work is so funny but also so dark, and it’s so simple but also so well thought out. If I could create work as funny as Edward Gorey’s I would be set.

My favorite alive artists are Arna Miller, Chris Turnham, Pernille Orum and, of course, Jessica Hische. Arna is a screen printer who does these hilarious, weird vintage style posters. She did a whole series of cats at a bar and I bought the whole thing, they are the most glorious screen prints I’ve ever seen in my life. Chris Turnham is an illustrator who reminds me of Leyendecker in that he is incredibly good at simplifying shapes and working with composition and texture. Pernille is an animator who does the best characters, she’s very good with expression and form. Last is my hero Jessica Hische. Jessica Hische is and forever will be the queen of lettering and I adore everything she does.

I’m sure you’re wondering if these people have Instagram accounts. They do. @arnamiller @turnhamator @pernilleoerum @jessicahische 

What advice do you have for people looking to find their passion?

Do what you love, don’t just do what is trendy. A lot of people have this weird idea that you have to find a way to turn your hobby into a career. I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble here, but you DON’T HAVE TO DO THAT. Just because you like to sew doesn’t mean you should quit your day job, start an LLC and spend your days sewing yourself to death. Having a passion and having a job don’t have to be the same thing. For me, lettering is my life. It consumes my life from the time I wake up, to the time I go to bed, and sometimes I even have dreams that I’m using the pen tool in illustrator. And I love it. For me, making lettering my job is a dream come true, but here’s the kicker: I still love lettering. If making your passion you job makes you hate what you do THEN FOR CRAP SAKES, DON’T DO IT. I have a good friend from high school who is an incredible artist. However, she recently changed her major from visual art to therapy. When I talked to her about it, she told me that she had tried selling art and working with clients and that it had made her feel “yucky.” She had found herself dreading the idea of doing art. So she decided to make therapy her career and to keep art as her passion. I think she is the smartest. 

Find what you love to do and do it. But don’t feel like you have to turn it into a career unless you can continue to love it when it is your job. 

What is your favorite breakfast food?

Cereal! I feel like it’s a lame answer but I can eat cereal anytime anywhere. Life and Honey Bunches of Oats are my favorite. 

Describe the history behind one of your nicknames (if you have one).

There are literally no good nicknames for Hayley. I’ve never had a nickname in my life and probably never will.

If you had to sing karaoke to one song, what would it be?

Loser by Beck 🙂 

What was your most recent Neftlix/Hulu binge?

To be honest, I don’t watch shows. Here’s the thing about shows, the longer they make them the more money they make. These studios are making these long shows and half of the episodes (or all of them) have really poor plot lines and stories just for the sake of making more episodes. I’m a movie person. My opinion is that if you can’t say what you’re trying to say in two hours or less, then you’re just wasting time. My favorite movies are “The Godfather” “Some Like it Hot” “There Will Be Blood” and “Better off Dead.”

What is your favorite Provo spot?

All of downtown! I love just going down there to the shops. The best food is at Station 22 and Mozz and the best ice cream is at Rockwell. 

What’s the best book you’ve read recently?

I just read The Count of Monte Cristo again! That book is amazing. I also read Anna Karenina which was wonderful. 

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