Adrian Hayles; softly spoken and humble Torontonian takes time out with Format Mag to reflect on his career and the city he calls home. Having developed a unique style and approach to his creative output Hayles is determined to break free from the restraints that exist in the contemporary art world. His work, detailed and arresting, speaks with a humorous, jovial tone such that youâ€™d be hard pressed not to hear it.
“Well, I know that my work is good. I feel that my body of work is unique and varies, and that makes me different from my contemporaries…”
Format: Let’s start off with a brief intro — tell us who you are, what you do and how long you’ve been at it â€¦
Adrian Hayles: My name is Adrian Hayles. I’m an artist disciplined in Graphic Design, Oil painting and Fine Art. I’ve been harnessing my skills in fine art since the age of ten and have since carried my talents over to painting and then into Graphic Design before graduating from Humber College in 2000. I’d say I’ve been in the game for about twenty years all told.
Format: Are you a Torontonian by birth?
Adrian Hayles: Yes I’m very much a Torontonian. I was born at Woman’s College Hospital just a few minutes away from my studio. I’ve since lived all across the GTA. Iâ€™m proud to call it home!
Format: So which neighbourhood do you call home then, and what inspires you most about that area?
Adrian Hayles: Iâ€™ve spent the past five years in Parkdale. So I represent that area for better or worse. I found myself being inspired by the duality of the area. There’s such diversity there and my work is a lot like it. I actually did a mural in Parkdale this summer at 1040 Queen west, which is reflective of the community. I called it The Have Nots and it depicted those in the community that were better off and fashionable, and those who were just getting by. I now live and work in the heart of the city, Adelaide and University. It’s a very different deck of cards here.
Format: Toronto is home to a wealth of talented artists, in an array of disciplines, so where does Adrian Hayles fit into this city – and how does he view the Toronto art scene?
Adrian Hayles: I’ve had a tough time figuring out where to place myself among all the talent that Toronto bolsters. I do a lot of different styles. Never wanting to pigeonhole myself. I view the Toronto art seen as being as diverse as it gets. The arts scene reflects the cultural diversity that makes up our city.
Format: Does your environment have any definitive influence on how you think and act and how does that relate to the work you produce?
Adrian Hayles: If by environment you mean my working space then yes it is a huge influence on my creative output. I need lots of light and space to move about and make a mess.
If you mean my social and structural surroundings then yes again. I think as an artist the biggest hurdle we have to overcome is influence. We’re bombarded with visuals used as marketing tools and have to process it all whether we like to or not. They all play a part subconsciously on what we create.
Format: Do you ever feel animosity or frustration towards the fickle and conceited nature of the art scene on a whole and what do you do to avoid the trappings of the art world?
Adrian Hayles: Well, I know that my work is good. I feel that my body of work is unique and varies, and that makes me different from my contemporaries. That is how I escape the trappings of the art world. I just wish I had the time to explore all my ideas using various mediums.
Format: It’s somewhat apparent that music is a popular theme in your work – can you expand on that for us?
Adrian Hayles: Well, I’m a DJ; some may know me as DJ Sawtay. I’ve been working with Rhythmicru for many years. My father is a DJ and it’s been a huge part of my upbringing. It does impact my artwork; music and art are my passions.
I’ve been scratching a lot these days. No, I don’t have a rash of any kind, rather scratching on my turntables. This is in my opinion the new age of jazz and true urban musical expression.
Format: Whatâ€™s playing on your stereo when you’re in your studio?
Adrian Hayles: I usually listen to jazz. I find it soothing and it inspires me to be creative knowing that the cats playing are doing so out of passion. Apart from that I’ve been listening to Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.
Format: Judging by the style of your characters, I’m inclined to think Ralph Steadman has had some influence over your style. Is this a fair assumption to make? Are there perhaps others you’d like to mention who have had a roll to play in the techniques you employ?
Adrian Hayles: I wouldn’t say that Ralph Steadman is a direct influence. But I can see how that assumption could be made. I really like his work, but I like to work a bit cleaner. My main influence is Marcel Duchamp and Jackson Pollock. Not so much for their work but for their ideals. I like their theory on what art is and the fact that they force us to question our opinion on what it is. My style can be compared to a handful of artist that came before me.
Format: One could also conclude, by reading your bio and looking at some of your corporate work, that you have an affinity for kids – did you actively seek out assignments or employment that would have you working with kids, however indirect?
Adrian Hayles: I enjoy working with kid because they are the true artists. We are all born artists, but later shift interests. I don’t actively seek employment that allows me to work with kids; Iâ€™ve just gotten lucky. I’ve worked for Webkinz for many years and Iâ€™m proud of the accomplishments.
Format: So the innocence of youth could be seen as a source of inspiration?
Adrian Hayles: The innocence of youth is inspiring. The future is on loan by them.
Format: So what then would be the ultimate commission for you?
Adrian Hayles: The ultimate commission for me would be a series of portraits of Lauren Hill. I think she has an amazing aura that I would love to try and capture. But, it has to be a commission or the appeal is lost.
Format: Lauren Hill eh? How would you prepare for such an honour, do you research your subjects thoroughly or do you prefer to harness a moment as it plays out?
Adrian Hayles: I do research my subjects to the fullest especially when they are in the public eye. I like finding references that are obscure, this way my work is that much more original. Once I’ve taken what I need from my reference, I can then as you say, harness the moment as it plays out.