Hayley O'Connor caught our attention with her edgy female-focused illustrations. The expressions she creates with The Girls can mirror whatever dilemma you're moving through, and the way she combines a soft colour palette with the inner workings of a character creates a beautiful dreamlike aesthetic. 

Here's us getting to know Hayley some more. 

Let's go:


Why women? 
Women are just beautiful to draw. I can be so creative with poses and looks and I find it inspiring to create artwork around them. When I have an idea I'll try to find, or create, a reference image which the whole concept can grow from. I research everything – it just improves the idea and takes it way further. When I can, I take my own photos of girls I've met and draw from that so the work is completely my creation.

Anyone you would love to paint? 
I would love to paint surfer Steph Gilmore and enter into The Archibald Prize. That's my goal for next year.

What's your day job? 
I work as a senior graphic designer for Billabong Australia. I get to do all the regional creative for the brand and occasionally go on campaign photoshoots. I've been to Mexico and Malibu recently – it's a pretty diverse role. 

Biggest challenge running a business alongside a day job? 
The biggest challenge for me is time. I work outside of my day job at night and on weekends. I love freelancing as an artist and I don't feel like I miss out [on life outside of the studio], but I do get run down sometimes. When I do, I usually take a break from freelance design work to recharge, or I'll work on personal pieces for fun. Music, movies, and exercise clear my head, too. 

I don't have time to study full time, but I do try to find short courses, or night classes, to learn new skills. I recently did an After Effects course so now I can animate my type for social.

"Sydney is where life changed for us. We had one perfect day before it did. We landed early morning and quickly set about exploring the city on bike. The sun was out, but it was still cool. The flora was starting to blossom. Biking in the springtime, change in the air. Wind burnt cheeks, a hint of sea salt and a dreamy day exploring."

What's your process for creating your pieces? 
I mock in Photoshop, piecing together different elements to create my layout and use that as my reference for the drawing. I'll either stick with graphite pencils for black and white, or mix watercolor, markers, and prisma colour pencils together to create heaps of layers to build the colour. 

It usually takes me a day or two from start to finish, but with paintings I'll use a projector to help trace the outline and then start painting, which can take up to 40 hours or more. I can't alter anything later with painting so it needs to be perfect in the original.


Do you network? 
Yes. I always go to art shows and events and if I meet someone who might like my work, I show them my Instagram – it's the new business card/folio these days. I do a lot through DMs on Instagram. You like another artist's work and they like yours and you start to chat about ideas and your work. 

What's your favourite Insta account right now? 
I love Trippy Dana's work. 

Favourite food? 
Tuna Poke bowl. 

Last photo you took? 
Friends at my solo show, Wave Chasers, on Friday.


Favourite place to go for dinner and/or drinks? 
My favourite is probably Rick Shores in Burleigh Heads. 

Music you're loving and listening to? 
My favourite artist is Anderson Paak. 

Instagram or Pinterest? 
Mix of both. I'll always save images for later on Instagram. I try to not to go on Pinterest too much as a lot of artists get their inspo there and it can start to look same-same. 

Other loves? 
I live on the Gold Coast so I love to be at the beach and I try to surf occasionally. I've always dabbled in photography, so every now and then I play with that for fun. 

What's next for you? 
I want to travel more, maybe to Sri Lanka or Europe, and I want to keep painting and move into larger scale artworks to challenge myself. 

Follow @hayley_o_creative 

Interviewed by Dee Behan


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