We had the good fortune of connecting with Hallie Rae Ward and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hallie Rae, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I have always had the entrepreneurial spirit. It all started with my daddio, Dave Ward, who is a business man himself. I grew up influenced by his mentality of having drive, passion, and creating one’s destiny. Growing up, I had decided that I wanted to own a surf and skate shop. I went to Eckerd College where I played volleyball and was planning on majoring in Business Management. My mom, Kem Ward, is an artist, so art has always been around, but I had not pursued it. I had to take an art class for a credit in college, and from that point on, I decided that I wanted to major in Visual Arts and minor in Business Management. Once I completed my solo exhibition for my senior thesis in 2012, I knew I wanted to pursue art as a career. Not only did I want to share positivity through my art with the world, but also have it contribute to my livelihood. To make this a reality, I needed an additional job to help pay my bills as well as launch my art career. I am currently the Art Business Director at Art for the People Gallery, a local artisan market and gallery with 100+ Austin artists. Having multiple streams of income can bring ease and growth to one’s career and life. I started creating more artwork, applying to shows, being a part of studio tours, and reaching out to art consultants. Over time and having a consistent driven work ethic, I have continued to gain exposure and new clients. In 2016, I decided to launch a design line inspired by my fine art called HRW Designs. I have always loved fashion and interior design, and wanted to offer more options for people to enjoy my creativity. Therefore, I now offer apparel, lighting, pillows, cards and prints. I like having my fine art and my design line because it attracts different customers, and patrons can include a variety of my positive pop in their lives in many ways. When you start your own business, you need to have passion, and realize that it is a lifestyle to fully embrace. You must have the focus and vision to get where you want to go. Continue to ask yourself questions about what you want and what are the possibilities. My parents always taught me to do something that you love to do. I love creating my life through art, and I am grateful that I am who I am, and have found what I love.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Through my art and designs, I create an environment of jubilation. I am inspired by relationships and my surroundings. People gravitate towards my work because it evokes feelings. For fine art, my two main mediums are pipe cleaners and light beams. I also pursue printmaking, painting, and mixed media. My art is enjoyed by the experienced art lover, as well as the beginner art lover. Whether it be through my fine art or design line, each person and business is choosing to bring fun, frisky, and unique positivity into their lives. I am very proud of the fine art commissions that I have received, especially this year, for residential and commercial spaces. This year’s commissions have given me the opportunity for my work to evolve in each of my main mediums. One of my residential commissions, “Abundance of Love”, led to my being included in a feature in Tribeza Magazine about interior designer, Joel Mozersky, and a home he designed in Austin. Another artwork, “Ebb & Flow & Glow”, was a commission through Art + Artisans for HillTop Apartments near the University of Texas campus. These types of opportunities for my art have come from years of passionate, driven, and focused work ethic and goals. As an artist, you must decide how you want to pursue your art and how to get to where you want to go. For me, that means setting targets and intentionally planning my time so that I can create my life and love it. Goals need to include all parts of your art and personal life. It takes two to tango, and therefore as a creative entrepreneur you need to embrace creativity and business. One must always have an open mind, be ready to problem solve, and ask oneself and others questions. Through contributing positive energy, having repetition, consistently doing the work, and learning from experiences, it will result in momentum and growth. Other factors that are necessary are finding your work/life balance, your keys to happiness, being organized, and having your living and work space clean. It is all a part of the package. To get through challenges, first off, know that where there is a will, there is a way. The internet is an amazing resource and can provide so many answers and examples. Also, finding people who can be a sounding board and are experienced in art and business that can offer mentorship, give good and thoughtful feedback, and/or brainstorm with, can be incredibly helpful. In the end, you must just keep moving forward and onward. It’s important to adapt, reflect on your past, present, and future, and acknowledge and celebrate your journey as a creative entrepreneur.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Hey, best friend! I’m so excited for you to be here! We have a lot on the itinerary. I will be taking you to my art studio in the Zilker neighborhood area so you can see my art and designs. We definitely have to go to Ramen Tatsu-Ya on South Lamar for some ramen and sake. Then we can go visit my workplace, Art for the People Gallery, where we showcase 100+ Austin Artists in our artisan market and exhibitions. I cannot wait for us to go kayaking down at Rowing Dock on Lady Bird Lake. Witnessing the bats at the Congress Ave. bridge is a must. We can scooter around downtown to see the murals (definitely have to go to “Tau Ceti” by Josef Kristofoletti mural), eat and drink at many places including Native Hostel, and visit the Austin State Capitol. Let’s refresh at Barton Springs Pool and grab a smoothie from Juiceland. I would love to take you to Laguna Gloria and Mount Bonnell to enjoy art and nature. We can drive out to the hill country and feast on barbeque from The Salt Lick. Let’s check the schedule to see if dance classes are happening at Danzversity and Pon Di Beat and get our groove on. We can dance the night away at Club Bantu, the pop-up dance club, usually playing Afrobeats, Dancehall, Salsa, and other world music. If we go dance another night, we can see what the Sahara Lounge has going on. Austin is known for its vibe, so we can check for events and art shows on the calendar.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shout out to the team of WE! I am HALLIE RAE WARD ART and the creative driving force, but I certainly do not do it alone. I am very fortunate to have family and friends that are very supportive of my art career and of me. My mama, Kem Ward, is the sweetest mama, my best friend, and my art partner. We brainstorm, work on art, and install together. She is a great sounding board and is in tune with me and my art. My daddio, Dave Ward, is also supportive and willing to give feedback to me for the more technical and business sides of projects. My brother, Cameron Ward, is always there to lend a hand if needed, and shows love with encouragement and presence. I have a few friends who also play an important part in my art career. The place that I work, Art for the People Gallery, has made a big difference in my art life through the experience of working at a gallery and the people involved. My good friend and teammate, Lynnie Goodman, is there for advice on pricing, art business relationships, and brainstorming. Deanna Serra, owner of Art for the People Gallery, has always been very supportive of my work and has given me opportunities to show my work. Fellow artist and friend, Casey Cameron Alfstad, is an amazing artist and a great person to work with creatively. All of these people have made a huge impact on my life and art for which I am forever grateful.
Portrait photo, photo taken by Casey Cameron Alfstad // “Monolith”, collab with and photo taken by Casey Cameron Alfstad, // “Abundance of Love”, photo taken by Jeff Jones Photography // “Ebb & Flow & Glow”, courtesy of HillTop Apartments photographer