See/Hear: Hayley Tomlinson

I first saw Hayley Tomlinson’s work in her first department critique a few years ago, and even then her work had an edge, original but going down easy, exceptionally crafted but without drawing attention to its technical quality, and thought-provoking.  My memory of this critique is right in line with her present goal: to continue to observe and talk about her interests visually, and to earn a good living doing it.


When I asked Hayley about her process in a recent interview, she talked mostly about research.  I wasn’t surprised…her work reads as a kind of a visual digestion of information and Hayley speaks with earnest interest in her subject matter, even when her pursuit is an ironic one.  The overriding tone in her work is that of serious play more than playful seriousness.

In her own words:

“I get a kick out of making art about things that are ridiculous or making fun of myself/other people/the art world. Sometimes my art feels like an inside joke. I also draw inspiration from trends in art that I consider to be profitable. I shamelessly use Tumblr as a guide for interesting things.  Aside from markers, I like rhinestones, glitter, using Styrofoam because it’s easy to acquire and sculpt.”

Currently, Hayley is working on a series that she repeatedly alluded to as “trendy.” It will probably include images of cats, crystals, and outerspace:

“Cats are really trendy…I’m thinking about how trendy imagery of galaxies/outer space is right now, and I’ve been combining that with line drawings of crystals. Essentially, I’m creating things that are aesthetically pleasing to me, and that I know will garner a positive response on my blog. I’m interested in how Tumblr is affecting the art world, since it is used by contemporary artists. The Saatchi Gallery even has a Tumblr page. I also like that Tumblr has so many young users, and attracting a following on Tumblr will definitely help me in my quest to become a well-known artist (one day!)”

Hayley is three months from completing her undergraduate thesis at Moore College of Art, but the pace and openness of her creative pursuits do not reflect the common overworked, closeted, just-get-me-through-this-assignment-so-I-can-sleep student brain.  Rather, her vision has clarity and focus, she seems inspired and stimulated and inquisitive, and as a result her portfolio, three years after that debut critique, looks poised to set some trends in the contemporary art scene.  And, in case you didn’t pick up on this yet, she is not at all bashful about her intent to be the next hot ticket:

“Ideally, I will one day be as popular as Damien Hirst. I think that would be funny and amazing. It’s not even about earning the same amount of money as he does, but having a recognizable name for creating interesting, funny work. I think that would be great!”

If you like, you can follow Hayley’s instructions (below) to see more of her work, and then, when Tomlinson is a household name, you can say “I knew about her when…”:

You can see some of my “experiments” at, but that is not my official portfolio site. I use Tumblr to post art as well as other artists I’m looking at, and sometimes I like to vent about my ridiculous life. Most of my work is photographed and can be seen at, although that site needs some touching up. I was in a show at the Prelude Gallery, where I won first place in a competition, which has resulted in another opening with my work which will be happening on January 13th!”

written by Jacqueline Maloney, with original quotes from Hayley Tomlinson, January 2012.


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