We had the good fortune of connecting with Haley Bowen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Haley, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risks for me are opportunities I am presented with that I’ve never tried before; from start to finish, and when doing them, every single part of the process is unfolding and new. I feel like the growth in my career, as of yet, is all based on me taking risks, going out of my comfort zone, and pushing myself past doubtful thoughts in order to take action knowing I am capable. Since becoming a full time artist nearly three years ago, the largest risk for me was diving all the way in, and letting go of my part time job at nonprofit and from teaching yoga. I had to let go of the comfort of stable and expected income, knowing that if I could just dedicate my whole and total self into this one thing that I am confident in and genuinely happy doing, I could be successful. That risk came with renting a studio in the Silos (in which I have to make rent every month), rebranding myself on social media and online (telling my followers that this is really me and asking them to accept me as I am) and learning a whole new way to hustle. In my hustle, I take on risks. I say yes to projects that might be my first time, like when I painted the murals at The Atrium Yoga Studio. I said yes, although there was a potential to fail, because I knew I could learn, and I could make it my own. I also take on risks in my artwork. I’m not an artist who paints images I think you might like. I’m an artist who paints what I feel, know and yearn for, and I give it to the world to take it as it is. That is an emotional risk for me. I take risks and put myself out there in front of gallery owners, collectors, and art lovers, introducing myself boldly, presenting business cards, and inviting people for studio visits, knowing full well they might not like me. Being uncomfortable and still believing in myself is where I grow the most. Without taking risks, I believe I wouldn’t have growth or opportunity that I’ve had over the past three years.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a figurative line artist, and believe that my work is like a fingerprint – it cannot be replicated or ever perfectly repeated because it is my story of how I take a living, breathing human, and transcribe him or her onto a two-dimensional surface. The story of my movement and path can be seen in the lines I leave on the surface. These architectural lines are not just sketches that take me from blank canvas to finished work, they are the work. The must be permanent and must remain. They make the work reveal itself to the viewer over time, creating a more engaging, moving, compelling, and narrative experience for the viewer. I am proud to be an artist who believes in and is confident in my own work. Confidence has allowed for me to become a full time artist, has taken me to art fairs, given me representation in galleries, moved me to be nationally and internationally collected, and to work side by side with inspiring patrons and collectors on commissions. This confidence didn’t just come over time all on my own. I have been encouraged to focus on my art throughout my whole life. I went to college to study art, I took art classes outside of schooling, I was never patronized for wanting this life. My friends and family show up to all of my studio openings, talks, and shows. They purchase art from me and refer me. I am so grateful for all of the people who ever said they were proud of me or that I could do this. It worked for me and kept me moving and hustling. Being married has been the greatest joy of my life – my husband Michael is my number one fan. Michael told me, “I never got to live my dream…so I’m going to do whatever it takes to make sure you live yours”. He is there for me when I’m down from a slow sale day, to pick me up off the ground when the thought of continually putting myself out there and not being sure if I’m liked weighs me down. He comes to every show, every exhibit, gives me marketing and business advice, does my taxes and helps me to be the professional artist I am. I couldn’t do this without him. Yes there are challenges. It is hard to paint from your heart, to create something you really believe in and to throw it out to the world for feedback. That’s scary and a part of the creative risk. It’s also hard to create in this way and feel like if you changed, and did something someone else was doing, maybe you’d sell more. Comparison is hard, but what keeps me focused and grounded is my personal identity in my artwork and my desire to be authentic and real. I’ll never be X and X will never be me. That’s how it is. If I force it, I’ll forget what I have that has brought me to this point so far in my career. The love and support from my friends and family, the support from my clients and patrons, and the love from my followers and studio visitors keeps my fire ignited and gives me energy to keep doing what I’m doing. I want you all to know that what I make is what I truly enjoy. When I feel a work is complete, it’s comes with a feeling of comfort – almost like the end of a chapter. We’ve all felt that feeling, when we’ve worked through a book or a TV show, and it’s ended. We sit back and think and take a breath before beginning something new again. That’s the feeling I have too when my work is finally complete. I can’t ever put a work out to the world that doesn’t have that feeling.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
First of all, YES for coming to Houston for a week. I love this city so much and know this will always be home base for me. If my friend was here for a week, I’d say save a few home cooked meals from yours truly, but when you do go out, Do dinner at: La Lucha (redfish), Night Herron (ambiance), Armandos (appetizers and margs), Emmaline (ambiance and oysters), Ninfa’s (duh), North (ambience, wine, pasta, need I say more), and Le Colonial. Do lunch at: Local Foods (always), Pondicheri, Thai Cottage, La Tapatia (fun, fast), and Flower Child. Have Coffee at: Common Bond, Siphon, Empire Cafe, Black Hole, and Boomtown. What to do: Rent a bike on the Bayou and bike around downtown or even to the Heights, go see a movie in the park at Miller or enjoy a cultural event at Discovery Green, see a band perform at the Mucky Duck, have dinner and go dancing at Armandos on Thursday after you catch the Colquitt gallery openings, dance at Bisou on Friday, go to Urban Harvest on Saturday am for breakfast and coffee and goods, go see what MFAH and CAMH have going on, go shopping in Rice Village then to Highland Village on Saturday (and get a Sprinkles cupcake because you deserve it), and go see a movie at IPic (and splurge on the recliners and food service seats).
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate this shoutout to one of my best friends Haley Coates-Huseman who to me is an emblem of hard work, taking risks, and growing because of it. She’s a Houstonian but currently lives in Dallas (come back to Houston!). She and I were roommates a few years ago and bridesmaids in each other’s weddings. Haley works in Development at Jubilee Park in Dallas, but formerly worked at The Beacon here in Houston. Everything she touches becomes better. She is community oriented, diligent and reliable. She is a graceful natural leader and believes in empowering others and I know so many people look up to her. She is a patron of mine, always is praising my hard work and hustle and someone I know truly believes in me. You go Haley!
Bhavin Misra (me at my studio sink, rinsing brushes) All other photos I took