Allow me a moment to introduce myself…
My name is: Hayden Dewar
What is your artistic discipline? Muralist/Illustrator/Visual artist
Ø What was your first job?
My first creative paid job of any significance was a large commemorative mural for Dimmeys Stores 150th anniversary. It’s a 50 meter long mural filled with iconic Australian people, places and events. I got the job by luck while canvassing my neighbourhood for walls. I happened to ask about this very large wall on the side of the old Dimmeys building in Richmond. I was speaking to the store manager in his office who seemed to have no interest in what I was proposing but he stopped to take a phone call from a colleague at the head office and told him in passing he had an artist in his office wanting to paint the side-wall. The guy on the other end of the phone happened to be looking for someone to paint a large mural in commemoration of Dimmey’s upcoming 150th anniversary - I got the gig but quickly discovered I’d bitten off more than I could chew. The job took about ten times longer than predicted and I pretty much had to teach myself how to paint portraits with a brush on the job!
Ø Who, or what, was your biggest teacher?
A combination of things. I learnt a massive amount from doing graffiti - just painting things large and quickly and also learning how to give things a 3-dimensional form whether letters or characters. I think people who do graffiti have an innate grasp of perspective just from years of giving their letters 3D form. I also learnt a massive amount from copying comic books as a kid, it taught me a lot about depicting the figure and illustrating environments. In terms of actual teachers who have really helped me there have been a handful of people throughout my life who have simply demonstrated a belief in me and that has made me listen closely to what they have to say. For me that approach has made me value what they have to offer and put it into practice. One of these was a primary school teacher (shout out to Mrs Bereen) who just unconditionally encouraged creativity in general. She wasn’t even an art-teacher but her approach really ignited a some self belief in terms of pursuing art. Another great teacher was urban landscape painter Tony Irving I met him while painting the Dimmeys mural and he really encouraged me in a time where I wasn’t feeling so great about my creative future. A few visits to his studio and just a handful of tips and advice from him taught me a lot and meant the world to me at the time. Lastly Film director Alan Nguyen who was a teacher I had whilst doing my Bachelor of Illustration commissioned me to do some concept art on a few film projects. His faith in me as a student was a great confidence boost. He really helped to broaden my outlook on possible creatively fulfilling avenues and showed me that the collaborative process can be really energising and fun.
Ø What are some of your technical/artistic/personal “rules” that you never break?
I wouldn’t say I have strict rules that I never break and I’m always leaving a little bit of flexibility in my process, but there’s a few things I need to do to be efficient and happy with my work: No music or podcasts while doing written work (emails, proposals, teaching docs etc) or while forming concepts, I just can’t concentrate and work well with the extra noise. After all the groundwork is laid the headphones go on though! In terms of process I always build form the ground up from small thumbnail sketches to finished work. I work in layers of rendering until a mural or painting is finished and I don’t do much off the cuff - I usually follow a design pretty faithfully making only a few small changes when I really feel confident in a better direction. When forming a concept I try really hard not to look at other people’s work so that the concept is as original as possible. Sometimes if the idea I have seems too obvious to have not been done before I will google it and check!
Ø What things do you not like to do in your art?
Too many to mention! But it’s always frustrating when you get a brief that either conflicts with your personal taste or is so prescribed that there is no room for personal creativity. On the other hand it’s always satisfying when you can find a way to sneakily make such briefs creatively satisfying - sometimes you can do that by showing a sketched concept that a client hadn’t thought of but is too strong an idea for them to ignore. I really don’t like doing stuff that is overly sentimental, which is funny because there are elements of that in my work but I like to balance that with dark slightly creepy elements. I think certain clients see the more sentimental elements of my work and just want that, so it’s hard to sell them on my overall personal aesthetic of sentimental, colourful, weird, dark and creepy!
Ø Where is your happy place?
Hard to narrow down but here’s three contenders.. 1: Movie and homemade pizza night with my kids and partner 2: The final few minutes of finishing a creative undertaking 3: Playing table tennis