Home » How To Draw A Viral Dream - Transcript

How To Draw A Viral Dream – Transcript

This is a picture of Hayden Williams (centre) with two Misguided models either sided of him giving him an air kiss on either cheek. Hayden is in yellow plaid and the two models are also in plaid, the one on the right is in blue plaid and the one n the right is in black and white plaid. All three in the picture are wearing a beret. Hayden is looking over the shades he is wearing, looking straight to camera.
Author
Lemar
Special Guest: Hayden Williams

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Lemar (00:00:03):
Alright, Hayden, thanks for jumping on this.

Hayden (00:00:05):
Thanks for having me.

Lemar (00:00:06):
That’s all good. So for those of you who don’t know, Hayden Williams is a British fashion, illustrator and designer.

Hayden (00:00:12):
Yes.

Lemar (00:00:13):
That’s a, that’s a, a very, um, uh, fancy word for saying that he’s extremely creative, has an eye for good fashion and draws a mean picture!

Hayden (00:00:23):
Thank You.

Lemar (00:00:23):
Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Uh, so yeah. Do you know what the reason I wanted to talk to you is, obviously, you’re, you’re a very creative person. You’ve had your own entrepreneurial journey so far, but also, I think the niche that you sit in is quite unique or at least to my ignorant mind, is quite unique. I don’t see too many people, too many illustrators. Um, and I’m sure it’s broader than that, but initially anyway, on say Instagram or any other platform, having the same kind of impact as you have.

Hayden (00:01:00):
Yeah, I was probably one of the first, I mean, I didn’t invent fashion illustration, fashion illustration has been around before I was even born, but I was probably one of the first to really use social media to plug what I did. And it was very organic. Like there was no strategy, there was no like marketing plan or anything like that, because in the beginning it just was me sharing what I was passionate about, which is just, you know, I’ve always been drawing, I’ve been drawing since I was three years old. It’s all I know.

Lemar (00:01:35):
Since you were three? Do you remember the first thing that you drew that you were extremely proud of?

Hayden (00:01:40):
Oh my gosh. Um, It was probably something Disney related, cause I remember…

Lemar (00:01:44):
You’re a Disney geek yeah?

Hayden (00:01:47):
Oh, well my parents bought me all the, the VHS. Oops, I’m showing my age now. All the VHS…

Lemar (00:01:54):
[Laughs] – For the young people out there, VHS is a piece of plastic that has tape inside it, on a reel.

Hayden (00:01:59):
Yeah. Throw back. I had all of the Disney movies and I’d watch them religiously. You know, ‘Cinderella’, ‘Pocahontas’, all the ones that we’re all familiar with, but I was always focused on the female characters. Even when I watched ‘Hercules’ or when I’d watch ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ like, it was always the, you know, Esmeralda I would focus or… I feel like I was drawn to those…

Lemar (00:02:23):
Yeah just naturally…

Hayden (00:02:24):
Yeah. Drawn to draw them – [laughter] – because I was just inspired by, I guess, the way the animators and Disney portrayed things. It wasn’t realism. It was like this kind of exaggerated or, um, idealised kind of vision of a woman, but it was just so beautifully done. And I was just, I felt so inspired to create and, I remember just wanting to draw these characters over and over again. I remember the first time I watched ‘Who Framed Roger rabbit, I was obsessed with Jessica Rabbit.

Lemar (00:02:54):
I think a lot of people were. A lot of people were.

Hayden (00:02:54):
[Laughs] – Literally. And even still to this day, she still influences my work, and I’ve drawn her again quite recently actually. Those characters really inspired me and as I grew up, I remember being into PlayStation at one point and I was obsesssed with Lara Croft. You know? Things like that. And I would draw her and as I got older…

Lemar (00:03:12):
You see the theme continuing, because it’s a similar…

Hayden (00:03:15):
A similar aesthetic right? Yeah, but it makes sense because obviously it would all manifest later on in the career I would end up doing, and being in fashion and fashion illustration and doing all of that.

Lemar (00:03:27):
Did you make her a considered choice to do fashion illustration or was it more stumbled on? In that, were you doing your illustrations and thought, ‘I’ll just put them up online ‘just because’, or was it a considered action?

Hayden (00:03:42):
Well, because I was drawing like, you know, these animated characters and stuff like that and because of the type of character I was drawing, I think the fashion illustration element was always there. I just kind of tapped into it ‘more’ as I got older. And I understood what fashion illustration was because fashion illustration really is the preliminary stage of, the design process. Of coming up with your own design. So then I started wanting to, you know, I looked into that and I was like, ‘Oh! Design is what I’m meant to do?’ Because in the beginning I probably thought I’d end up being like an animator or something, for Disney. I thought that was the path I was going to go down. But then, fashion was ‘the calling’ I think.

Lemar (00:04:18):
You see a lot of people, like for instance, I do music, but initially I was going – well because of the parents, I guess – I was going down the, the ‘Doctor’, ‘Pharmacist’ route. Was there a different route you were going down at any point or did you always just think, ‘Do you know what? This is me, I’m so drawn to this.’

Hayden (00:04:35):
It had to be the arts in some way. I don’t think there was any other [thing for me]. And fortunately I had parents that really encouraged that. I didn’t really have, you know, my parents saying that ‘You need to do this!’ They knew, I mean, obviously I can remember being three years old only because they would say you were that age. You know, obviously, I wouldn’t probably remember. But I do remember drawing. They really encouraged it and understood how I clearly just loved it. Even like, as a kid, I would just pick up the scissors and make my own little paper dolls and make outfits.

Lemar (00:05:07):
Always creative.

Hayden (00:05:07):
Yeah. And just the interest I had, like, you know, I was interested in fashion dolls and things that I guess weren’t considered stereotypically masculine or, you know, more kind of girly things, but I’m glad that my parents didn’t really discourage that.

Lemar (00:05:20):
Yeah. Try and stifle that and stamp on it for no reason.

Hayden (00:05:20):
Yeah, stifle that or try and, um, you know, steer me away from that because I don’t think you should do that as a parent. And also I think you shouldn’t put a gender on those things either, you should encourage your child to just be creative no matter what.

Lemar (00:05:33):
Exactly. I think that’s the real job of a parent, you know, I’ve got two of my own. I think the key and probably the hardest thing is encouraging them to find what their passion is. As a parent, I think that’s the key thing. You need to try and discover what your kid’s passion is and really push them in that direction. If hopefully it’s something that they can then turn into a career. Great. But I just think that’s the main thing, spotting creativity. I mean, in your case, it must have been blindingly obvious – [laughs] – because the drawings are amazing.

Hayden (00:06:01):
My mom tells the same story over and over again.

Lemar (00:06:04):
Oh yeah? Go on, give us it. Go on.

Hayden (00:06:04):
Oh God, I hate it! [Laughs] – One day I must’ve been drawing and, you know, I think she was running the bath for me or whatever – this is so embarrassing [laughs]. I was a baby. I used to just find like pen and paper. Even if it was like post-it notes, I would just find some sort of paper to draw on, something to do. And yeah, she was running the bath or whatever. I think this was before she even realised that I could draw, but yeah, this was like, I guess her ‘moment’. And she noticed that I just wasn’t listening. She was telling me to get in the bath and I wasn’t listening. So she thought, ‘Let me just stop and see what this boy is doing.’ And she literally was like, ‘Whoa’, like, okay, this boy clearly has some sort of’…

Lemar (00:06:41):
What were you doing?

Hayden (00:06:41):
I was drawing! – [Laughter] So she was just, a bit gob smacked. Like, ‘Oh my God!’. And she took note from then, like…

Lemar (00:06:48):
This is what he’s into.

Hayden (00:06:51):
Yeah. And, uh, I still don’t listen now, but… [laughter]

Lemar (00:06:55):
Nothing to do with drawing. You’re just…

Hayden (00:06:57):
I just don’t listen – [laughter] – I think actually she picked up the pen and just threw it because she was so upset at the fact that I didn’t even, you know…

Lemar (00:07:05):
Listen.

Hayden (00:07:05):
Yeah because I wasn’t listening. But when she actually noticed what it was I was doing, what I was creating…

Lemar (00:07:09):
She went and shamefully picked up the pen. And gave it back to you.

Hayden (00:07:10):
And then obviously now it’s like, you know…

Lemar (00:07:12):
I always knew! I always knew! – [laughs]

Hayden (00:07:12):
Yeah. You tell the story, but it’s, it’s cute. You know? It’s good to have those memories, I guess. And, um, I’m glad that I had parents that really encouraged that.

Lemar (00:07:24):
So then you went to college?

Hayden (00:07:27):
Yeah. Once school ended – and I was really glad that when it ended because, well, I had a tough time in school, I think.

Lemar (00:07:34):
Oh no?

Hayden (00:07:34):
I mean, I’ve never really spoken to you about that, but I guess, um, more so kind of like, you know, bullying and things like that. It’s crazy because I think now it’s like nothing [to me], but back then, I guess maybe like around 2000? You know, a bit more around the early 2000’s. You know, kids can be…

Lemar (00:07:54):
Kids can be mean. Kids can be mean.

Hayden (00:07:56):
And if they don’t understand you and you’re a little bit different, if you’re not into the stereotypical things that are looked at, as, you know, as I said, like masculine…

Lemar (00:08:02):
Football! Rugby! Run! Strength! – [laughs]

Hayden (00:08:02):
Right! You know? All of that stuff, [if you’re not into the stuff that they think you should be into], I think you get very harshly judged. Um, but it’s funny now because, not that, that was really my driving force, but I just think to myself now, obviously I’m probably…

Lemar (00:08:17):
You’re doing what you love.

Hayden (00:08:17):
Yeah, I’m doing what I love. And I’ve been able to have a successful career doing what it is that I’ve always done.

Lemar (00:08:25):
Yeah. And you know, that 10,000 hour rule. If you weren’t sticking to your guns then, you wouldn’t be as good doing what you do now. That’s a hard thing though, for a kid – to ‘love’ something and then, like you say, if that expression of you is being judged, you stifling that ultimately affects you later on. So the fact that you were strong enough to say, ‘No, this is what I’m into. This is what I like.’ And obviously you’re gonna have some down days and some up days, but this is who I am and be able to celebrate that now to the extent that you are, that takes some strength. That’s good.

Hayden (00:08:58):
And I think those people now probably see like, Oh wow, Hayden really? Actually did..

Lemar (00:09:01):
Yeah, that was ‘really’ him! – [laughs]

Hayden (00:09:03):
We always remember him drawing like, Oh my God, like, look at what he’s been able to do. But I think, yeah, it was definitely harder at that stage. I mean, loads of people could probably relate to that, you know? Growing up and [moving] into your teens years. It’s always difficult. You know?

Lemar (00:09:16):
Yeah. There’s always, there’s going to be ‘something.’

Hayden (00:09:19):
Yeah. But I’m glad I never tried to change myself or conform to try and fit into some, you know, box.

Lemar (00:09:25):
Yeah you might be really a really, really crap football player right now – [laughs].

Hayden (00:09:29):
Yeah. Or just messed up. Because of trying to like live up to someone else’s vision or trying to be something that I’m not, you know? And I’ve always just stayed true to what I’ve liked.

Lemar (00:09:37):
So you were glad that it ended…

Hayden (00:09:39):
Yeah, glad that it ended. I think it was [in] 2007 school ended. And then I took a gap year to really just get back into drawing. So I think school kind of distracted me from it for a while. And then I went into…

Lemar (00:09:50):
What did you do in your gap year?

Hayden (00:09:50):
I literally just came up with collections. My own creations by illustration. Literally just drawing different collections all the time and built a portfolio up.

Lemar (00:09:59):
That was ‘before’ college?

Hayden (00:10:01):
This was before college started.

Lemar (00:10:02):
Wow? Ok.

Hayden (00:10:02):
So, I built up a portfolio basically, and it wasn’t even strategic to go to college. It was literally, I just really enjoyed it. I started getting really getting into fashion.

Lemar (00:10:12):
I’m not sure if you’ve, well, maybe that’s you just answered [this question]. But I was saying, what was the mindset behind building the portfolio. Was your intention. ‘Okay I’m going to be in fashion industry and this is my collection’ or was it, ‘I just love drawing these pictures’. Was there an end goal to it? Or were you just expressing yourself.

Hayden (00:10:27):
Yeah, that was literally when I realised. I remember as well, I’d sent in – when I was in school, I think it was around 2006 – I’d sent in my illustrations to ‘Bratz Magazine’. I’d always loved Bratz Dolls since they came out. And so I sent in my illustrations to the magazine and they put them in [the magazine], they featured them.

Lemar (00:10:46):
Wow.

Hayden (00:10:46):
And I won the star prize letter and the video game and stuff. Yeah, I sent in the drawings and my own designs for the dolls [along with] a letter saying how much I love the dolls and I’d love to design for them one day. They came back and said, ‘Oh, we’re sure we’re going to see your designs on the runway one day.’ It was just really cute, you know?

Lemar (00:11:07):
And encouraging man.

Hayden (00:11:07):
Very encouraging!

Lemar (00:11:07):
I think that can put a lot of confidence in someone to say, ‘Do you know what? No. I’m really good at it. I ‘can’ do this!’.

Hayden (00:11:13):
Oh yeah definitely. Because at first I was a bit nervous to do it. And then I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll just do it’. And my parents were like, ‘Yeah, do it!’. They helped me with it all. Packaged it up and sent it off. And then yeah, next minute, [I’d won]. When I was in the issue – I’ve still got the copies now. I have a couple of copies and, um, yeah – that was a proud moment.

Lemar (00:11:28):
I might have to get you to send me a picture of those.

Hayden (00:11:28):
Oh yeah!. I’ve got them scanned and stuff, so yeah. That would also manifest itself again later on down the line. So yeah, that was a proud moment. Getting that feature in the magazine kind of gave me even more encouragement. And then I started looking into publications, like Vogue and I was getting all of this inspiration from different editorials at fashion campaigns and things like that. When I did some research, I realised and thought, ‘Okay, ‘that’ is what I’m meant to do’. I can tell, the kind of things I’m drawing relate back to fashion. I love drawing the female form. I love drawing clothes and putting together a look from head to toe. From the accessories to the makeup. I don’t draw just the outfit. I draw the whole thing. I can put together a whole look. So it’s almost like being a designer and stylist all in one, but via the art, you know, creating an illustration. But I have the freedom to just do whatever with it. You know? Because obviously there’s no limitations with the pencil you know? And I love doing things old school as well. I’ve been doing it the same way since I was a kid. You know, pen, pencil and paper. But yeah, so, so the college thing… I was like, okay, I’ll keep creating and build up this portfolio. And I Built up a really strong portfolio of work.

Lemar (00:12:36):
So a ‘portfolio’, how much work is in that? When I say work, I mean pictures and images etc.

Hayden (00:12:42):
Sketches.

Lemar (00:12:42):
Yeah Sketches

Hayden (00:12:42):
Oh God, I don’t remember. All I remember is I used to go to a WHSmiths. And I used to get the little packets of, you know those little folders. The ones that had the little clear things.

Lemar (00:12:52):
Yeah – [laughs].

Hayden (00:12:52):
And I’d I just feel fill them up.

Lemar (00:12:55):
You’d have a couple of them.

Hayden (00:12:55):
[I’d have a lot]. The whole portfolio was filled up basically. I’d just fill them up and um, yeah. And then I’d go through different different folders. I’d get multiple different ones. And – I was like, right, I need to take this to the next level now, you know? Let me look into different colleges. Because if I want to design, then I’m going to need to go and study. And so I looked in different different colleges.

Lemar (00:13:14):
That’s good. Some people would be like, ‘Im just gonna draw!’. But to think, ‘No, I’m going to go and study it to get my skills up?’.

Hayden (00:13:14):
You have to remember as well, this was ‘before’ the whole social media thing really was popping off. You know? So I didn’t have that. It wasn’t really [an option].

Lemar (00:13:25):
It was still evolving at that time. Was twitter around?

Hayden (00:13:28):
I think this was before, or maybe was just in the beginning stages.

Lemar (00:13:31):
Because I remember. About halfway through my career. I think YouTube was started popping up proper and then Twitter.

Hayden (00:13:36):
Yeah. Twitter was one of the first.

Lemar (00:13:40):
Yeah, Twitter was early. I didn’t really understand it. When I first got Twitter, I remember I was going to do breakfast TV and I remember tweeting something. Then I remember getting into the car and my phone [beep beep beep beep beep!] the notifications! I was like… what the heck! I didn’t even really understand what it was about. I was come on! What is this!?

Hayden (00:13:56):
All of the notifications. See, this is why… just…. Turn off the notifications.

Lemar (00:13:59):
Oh my gosh, stop that! Oh yeah. That got turned off quickly.

Hayden (00:14:00):
Oh and listen, there’s been so many moments with that. We’ll probably get into that anyway but…

Lemar (00:14:03):
I mean, who would know that all that stuff would become so enormous and so key.

Hayden (00:14:07):
Yeah. Very important. I think in just being able to, you know, have that power to promote yourself.

Lemar (00:14:13):
And go directly to the people who would be into you.

Hayden (00:14:15):
Yeah. And, speak whatever you want to speak, you know? Speak your piece on something, a certain thing that you’re passionate about or just sharing something that you’ve created. So yeah, ultimately that was like, the early, early stage. And then I went into looking into different colleges and then I found, um, Barking… well, it was Barking College at the time. But it’s Barking & Dagenham [College] now. And I remember, showing my portfolio to [the lady that would eventually become] my tutor at the time and yeah, she gave me a shot! She loved the work and the next minute, I was studying there. I’d got my certificates, I did really well. I enjoyed it! It was so great because I felt like, ‘Oh my God, I’m enjoying school. There’s no, you know…

Lemar (00:15:00):
Judging.

Hayden (00:15:01):
Yeah. There’s no judging but then…

Lemar (00:15:02):
You’re on the course that you would like to be on. Probably surrounded by likeminded people? Because they’re doing the same, you know, the same course… the same thing. So you felt, yeah, I’ve arrived. I’m home. Let’s do this!

Hayden (00:15:12):
Yeah. And it felt great to not have any other distraction. I didn’t have to worry about maths. I didn’t have to worry about anything else. It was literally just fashion.

Lemar (00:15:19):
Only the thing you like.

Hayden (00:15:19):
Right! But then it was, it was tough too, because it was like, okay, I know where I excel and I know the sketching part. I know that I’m strong at that. And my tutor knew that, but then [I was completely new and green when it came] to like the actual making [of] clothes. Completely new, this is new territory. So learning that from scratch, learning how to draft patterns, learning how to sew, learning, how to construct things and making twirls and all these different things that, you know…

Lemar (00:15:48):
Twirls? That’s fashion speak. I don’t know about twirls.

Hayden (00:15:52):
Twirls. Yeah that’s fashion speak! Basically you just make a mock up of the creation before you make it in its final form, like the fabric and stuff. But yeah, there were so many different things I was learning and the course had so many different elements to it. Learning about textiles. And then at one point we were doing artwork and drawing too. It’s funny because my tutor would know where to kind of push me in the elements that I wasn’t strong at. But then the elements I was strong at, she would almost like plug me to the class.

Lemar (00:16:19):
Highlight you, yeah that’s cool.

Hayden (00:16:19):
Yeah, she’d say things like, ‘Draw how Hayden draws’, or, ‘Watch what Hayden does’. You know? So that was kind of like a bit daunting. But at the same time it was great because she really did push me hard as well, when it came to the elements that I wasn’t so strong at.

Lemar (00:16:29):
One thing that you found difficult. One element that you found to be like, ‘Oh, what is this about?’

Hayden (00:16:34):
Um, just making things. Like, making things from scratch. Actually having to learn it…

Lemar (00:16:38):
But then you’re drawing things from scratch though right? So…

Hayden (00:16:39):
Yeah. But it’s different when you’re literally having to…

Lemar (00:16:42):
So when you say making things? You mean ‘models’ of things?

Hayden (00:16:45):
So like when you’re drafting a pattern and you have to do all the measurement and make sure the ‘measurements’ are correct and you’re getting, you know…

Lemar (00:16:51):
Ok. Oh so that’s a different skill set.

Hayden (00:16:51):
Yeah it’s slightly more, it’s a little bit more complex. Well, to me, because obviously somebody [else] might find ‘drawing’ a bit more complex, but…

Lemar (00:17:01):
Yeah, well they would. [Laughs] – Probably 90% of the population would find the drawing bit [harder].

Hayden (00:17:04):
Yeah. Every designer has a different way of working. Some designers don’t sketch at all. Some designers literally will just make a mockup on a mannequin with a twirl. Or they’ll just drape with a fabric on a mannequin. They can create a design that way. And then…

Lemar (00:17:19):
But not ‘mentally’ and putting then translating it to paper in a way that’s striking enough to inspire someone else to say, ‘Yeah, I get it. I understand what your vision is.’

Hayden (00:17:27):
Yeah. Because obviously some designers, you know, they have their team of people and they will show the team the sketch or whatever. But for me, I know that I definitely have to sketch the look and yeah. And do it that way. But yeah, that was my, uh…

Hayden (00:17:41):
Achilles heel, so to speak. But you worked on it.

Hayden (00:17:42):
But I worked on it, you know? And I did really well. And then the next phase was like, okay, everyone’s looking into [Universities] now, we’re applying to Uni and it’s like, ‘Aaah! The next step!’, You know? It’s crazy because I remember, I think at that point, I think I did have Twitter at that point. Yeah, I did because I was juggling both college work and then also putting out my work on social media and that was good. It taught me, I guess, to have good balance, in terms of work ethic, because I had to focus on the work that I was doing because it wasn’t just the work in college. They encouraged us to do work at home too, you know, like to build up your sketchbook and do all that stuff. But then I was also doing my own personal sketches that I put out on social media

Lemar (00:18:28):
So you weren’t putting your work that you were giving in [at college] on [twitter]. You were doing extra stuff and putting ‘that’ on?

Hayden (00:18:31):
Yeah my own stuff. [It was] my own stuff that I was sharing

Lemar (00:18:34):
This dude loved drawing. Wow.

Hayden (00:18:36):
[Laughs] – Well look, that’s how everything kind of, you know, built up. I remember just creating like crazy and trying to juggle both and I managed to do it, but for most people I know it’d be like, Oh this is too much man. Because it’s a lot! I don’t think people realise how much.

Lemar (00:18:48):
Yeah, try and pass a course as well as do something on the side.

Hayden (00:18:52):
It’s a lot, but I don’t regret it. Because I feel like it definitely taught me about great work ethic and being able to balance everything.

Lemar (00:18:58):
Um, so then Uni?

Hayden (00:19:00):
Yeah, so basically started looking at [Universities] and then, um, you know, my portfolio was even bigger now at this point. So, I started doing the whole portfolio review process. Going to different Uni’s and interviews.

Lemar (00:19:12):
And you show them your work I guess?

Hayden (00:19:13):
Yeah, show them the work. Obviously my own personal stuff. But then also the stuff I’d created in college. That was very scary because for me, I think because I’d had this idea in my head of like, ‘Oh wait, I need to study at this specific place. I need to go to London College Of Fashion. Or I need to go to Central Saint Martin’s’. These are the ones that always stuck out because they’re the most established names.

Lemar (00:19:36):
I see.

Hayden (00:19:36):
You know? The ones that are the most world renowned. That you need to get into to get to the next level and be a top designer or whatever.

Lemar (00:19:44):
Yeah. Closer to where you are in your mind. Where you’d like to be in your mind.

Hayden (00:19:47):
Yeah. And it’s like a fantasy, right? It’s like, that’s the dream place to study. So I remember going for portfolio reviews. I had moral support because my sister came with me to one [or two] of them. She’s my best friend. You guys know that.

Lemar (00:20:02):
Yeah.

Hayden (00:20:02):
She came with me to one of them. I think it was, um, was it Central Saint Martins? I think it was Central Saint Martins I went to and it’s quite a daunting process because, I don’t know if they’ve changed the whole process now, but they used to leave a sticker on your portfolio. It they…

Lemar (00:20:15):
What does the sticker mean?

Hayden (00:20:15):
If I remember rightly it was like, they leave a little sticker to tell you that you can come back for another [round], you’re in the next phase of the review. Or if I remember rightly it might’ve been the opposite. It might have been, you didn’t get in, I can’t remember. It was so long ago, but they basically leave a sticker to let you know. I think that…

Lemar (00:20:30):
You’re in or you’re out. You can come to the stage or not.

Hayden (00:20:30):
Yeah, the next phase of the process, to get like another interview or something. But I remember, I didn’t. I don’t think I, I didn’t get a sticker. And I just felt so heartbroken. I felt like, what do I do now? If I don’t get into maybe a place that I felt was going to take to the next level. What’s the next [step?] Because you have to remember, this was still the earlier stages of social media. So I wasn’t really popping off yet really. I was sharing my work and I was getting some good reactions, but it was still the earlier days. And then I remember going for another interview at another university. Ravensbourne University, North Greenwich. They were in a different location when I interviewed with them, but I went there and they, I felt it went terribly. Like I just, I felt it didn’t go good.

Lemar (00:21:18):
Oh?

Hayden (00:21:18):
But then I did get in!

Lemar (00:21:21):
Brilliant.

Hayden (00:21:21):
Because I think I remember really standing up for my vision. And at first the person that was interviewing me didn’t really seem like they understood that. It almost felt like a bit [of] a battle to some degree, but it was, you know, I guess maybe I thought it didn’t go well, but for some reason, I got in.

Lemar (00:21:39):
Nice!

Hayden (00:21:39):
Yeah! It was great to be accepted. I got the letter and then went to go study.

Lemar (00:21:44):
How many years was that [for]?

Hayden (00:21:44):
Well, that’s the thing. I didn’t stay because social media then began to pop off. So I had to make the decision. You see, in college it was different because it was like, it was early days. It was before…

Lemar (00:21:57):
No one really knew what all of this was.

Hayden (00:21:59):
No. And then once I got into uni, then things started to happen with my work. So many crazy things started happening.

Lemar (00:22:06):
What would you say is the key thing that set things off and made you think, ‘Ah, maybe I should focus on this’.

Hayden (00:22:13):
Well. Rihanna?

Lemar (00:22:20):
Rihanna’s a good reason.

Hayden (00:22:20):
[Laughs!].

Lemar (00:22:20):
Rihanna would be a good reason – [laughs]. Yeah. What happened with Rihanna?

Hayden (00:22:20):
Okay. So she was the, I always say kind of like the domino effect.

Lemar (00:22:26):
The catalyst.

Hayden (00:22:26):
Yeah. And I guess just to clarify as well, because I don’t want it to be a thing like, Oh, okay. Just because a celebrity posted your work – or whatever it is – that means you should just stop studying. But for ‘me’, things started to get very crazy and I had to try and balance. Because remember, from college to uni, uni is a little bit different. You’re kind of left more to your own devices and it’s a lot more work and you having to juggle… because remember I was juggling the social media aspect and then the studies, so it got a bit overwhelming. I was like, okay, what do I enjoy doing more? Do I enjoy having my own creative freedom and free reign to do whatever I want to, [while] also sharing the work with the public? Or do I want to still continue to study and then get a certificate, but then maybe not get where I want? Sometimes you have to take risks and everybody’s path is different.

Lemar (00:23:07):
I think, if you’re going to be influential in any way, part of that entrepreneurial spirit is, you learn up to a certain point and after a while you have to take what you’ve learned, still learn along the way, but take what you’ve learned and elaborate on it. Do your own expression of it using the tools that you’ve been given through that education. So I think it’s important that everyone jumps at some point, at something. So if it’s early on, it’s early on, if it’s later on it’s later, but ‘do’ jump and investigate whatever it is that floats your boat.

Hayden (00:23:42):
Yeah. That’s what happened for me. I just felt like I wasn’t, I don’t think I was really that happy studying anymore as well. I remember just thinking to myself, ‘Okay even if things don’t work out or whatever it is, at least I know I did something that makes me happy.

Lemar (00:23:55):
Yeah. And also what is working out, you know, we have this thing of, ‘Oh, working out is whatever that, perfect dream is in our head’. [But… you know… I remember a few years back], I was really worried about something in my life at one point and I had to go away, which meant that I’d have to stop what I was doing for a while and then come back to it. I remember someone saying to me, ‘Yeah, but do you know what? When you go away, you’ll come back and what’s meant to be there will be there’.

Hayden (00:24:20):
Yeah and what’s meant for you is meant for ‘you’.

Lemar (00:24:20):
Yeah. So whatever’s not going to be, there will fall off and you’ll come back and you’ll just slot back in. You can’t ‘over worry’ about things. You have to do what you need to do. If you don’t get to what you want to do in your mind, there’s still gonna be something else. It might end up being even better than what you thought!

Hayden (00:24:39):
Exactly! You just don’t know, how things can pan out. You really can’t predict the future. So for me, basically, I posted my work.

Lemar (00:24:44):
What did you post? What was the post? What was the illustration? Do you hate people saying picture? It’s an ‘illustration’.

Hayden (00:24:51):
Yeah. illustration.

Lemar (00:24:51):
That’s the word – ‘Illustration’. It’s not a picture, it’s not a drawing! Alright? Yeah? It’s not a… ‘pencil thing!’ Its… ‘Illustration!’. Alright.

Hayden (00:24:54):
[Laughs] – Yeah. You could say sketch or fashion illustration, but yeah… its a fashion illustration.

Lemar (00:25:04):
Ok so ‘illustration’ is the one. Fashion illustration, alright. Which ‘fashion illustration’ turned Rihanna on?

Hayden (00:25:10):
[Laughs] – That sounded a bit…

Lemar (00:25:12):
[Laughter] – It turned her on, floated her boat, ticked the box!

Hayden (00:25:17):
It was of her. Basically, so this was like – what?… 2009, 2010.

Lemar (00:25:22):
Ok.

Hayden (00:25:22):
2010. Um, she had just started her loud era. So the red, the red hair…

Lemar (00:25:27):
I loved that era. It was very striking. She got [the] red with the green eyes, with the brown skin with the… very nice.

Hayden (00:25:35):
Yeah, super striking! And I remember she had just dropped the album cover.

Lemar (00:25:38):
Nice.

Hayden (00:25:38):
And I love that picture of, you know, the close up of her face, her eyes are kind of closed, she’s kind of giving Jessica Rabbit vibes. And obviously, you know, Jessica Rabbit is one of my huge inspirations. So I fell in love with that. And before that I was focused more on just kind of doing my own miscellaneous models. I was drawing things and I was gaining popularity, but I wasn’t drawing maybe like pop culture stuff that much. I wasn’t really drawing celebrities that much. And she was kind of like, I guess maybe the first celebrity.

Lemar (00:26:03):
So your stuff was more, more abstract at that point? What were the characters like?

Hayden (00:26:08):
It was more so just models wearing my creations. They weren’t really anyone specific. It was just my own models that I’d come up with.

Lemar (00:26:14):
Right. So the ‘aha moment’ of your creations, but then embodying that in a celebrities… Ah I see, great.

Hayden (00:26:21):
Yeah. So kind of drawing inspiration from pop culture and what was happening. And I would, I guess from, you know, being a kid, I would do that anyway with [the] Disney [drawings] and all that. That’s pop culture. But then at the same time it’s like, this is the celeb world of Hollywood and…

Lemar (00:26:33):
Yea, it’s very happening.

Hayden (00:26:33):
Yeah! You know, and it just worked out perfectly. So I did an illustration inspired by that cover. But instead of just doing the closeup and copying that picture, I decided to extend it and do like a full look. So I took inspiration from the shot of her face, but then did an outfit inspired by the era. She called it like a ‘baby doll’ thing, but with we’ll get to that.

Lemar (00:26:56):
A baby doll?

Hayden (00:26:56):
Like a blush pink top and skirt, I think the followers who, you know, they’ll remember the look, but the skirt had almost like a, it wasn’t really intentional, but it was like, it had a slight lampshade umbrella-esque looking skirt and it kind of came out.

Lemar (00:27:11):
Umbrella, yeah? Ella, ella, ella… [laughs].

Hayden (00:27:11):
Yeah, I know right? Oh lord, see! – [laughter]. But yeah, so it came out and then, you know, it just, it really looked great and I was proud of it. I put it out and then the notifications, it was just, like every day it was more and more likes, more and more retweets. And I was like, okay, clearly people are really enjoying this illustration.

Lemar (00:27:31):
Did she retweet it? At that point, had she?

Hayden (00:27:34):
A few days later, because it kept on gaining traction and I had tagged her, but she hadn’t seen it yet. But then yeah, a few days later, I guess, for some reason she came across it. I dunno if it was maybe a fan page that retweeted it or something. The next thing I knew, she followed me. Then I was like, ‘Oh, uh-oh, what’s going on here?’ And then she Dm’d me not long after. I was shookieth at this point – [laughter]. Like, I was kind of like, what’s going on here? Cause this was the first time…

Lemar (00:28:03):
You thought, am I in trouble? Um, I just drew a picture? I drew a picture, that was all.

Hayden (00:28:07):
Yeah! Like, I didn’t know what to think. I just remember kind of running around a little bit, like a headless chicken because I was like, okay, this is really kind of crazy. And I’m not someone that gets starstruck, or get’s crazy, but like, it was just kind of a moment like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ This is before I even read the dm. I just thought, okay, she is following now. She’s Dm’d me. What does the dm say? And she was really gushing about the design. She was like, ‘Oh my God!’ Asking me where I’m from? She goes, ‘That baby doll is money!’. Like, ‘We should do something together’ and ‘It’s sick!’. And just, just going crazy about the design. And I still have the dm now.

Lemar (00:28:37):
You see, what I love is, I love the purity in certain things. You have just been doing something from your heart, what you love, yeah? So much so that despite people in your school saying, ‘Oh, you’re going down a different path [to us]’.

Hayden (00:28:52):
Yeah, not understanding what I was doing.

Lemar (00:28:53):
Yeah, not understanding what you were doing and then thinking, ‘Do you know what? I’m going to take a year out and still just do what I love’. And then thinking, ‘I’m going to educate myself in what I love’. And then thinking, ‘Do you know what? I’m still not happy fully at uni, so I’m just going to go and do what I love’. And then from doing what you love, someone else has loved what you love. For her, from the goodness of her heart to reach out honestly and say, ‘Do you know what? This is really nice!’. I love that thread of purity through the whole thing. You know?

Hayden (00:29:22):
Yeah I understand that because it’s like, for me, when you use those words, it makes sense because she is someone that loves fashion, loves art. You can see it obviously in her ventures now. She’s always been somebody that’s passionate about art and fashion. And, and you know, she’s always said from even those years that she’s always wanted to venture into those worlds. And she’s excelling in all of those now. So I think she understands and appreciates fashion illustration and art. And so I was, I guess, one of her first kind of, um, I think, I think I just stood out. I think the work stood out for her and it was like, ‘Whoa!’.

Lemar (00:29:53):
Well do you know what? Because you’ve said ‘how’ you got to that point. You can see it’s very different to someone drawing a nice picture and putting it up. And then somebody else saying, ‘Oh, look at this nice picture’. You’ve done your 10,000 hours. This is 10,000 hours of drawing to get to that picture that was striking enough for someone else to say, ‘Look at this whole thing! This is, this is really good!’ And then react. So…

Hayden (00:30:13):
Because it wasn’t just like a recreation of just that exact picture. It was actually me putting my own spin and creating a design.

Lemar (00:30:19):
It was a [Deep voice impersonation] ‘fashion illustration’.

Hayden (00:30:20):
Aha! yes – [laughs].

Lemar (00:30:22):
That’s what it was. Yeah. [Deep voice impersonation] – A ‘fashion illustration’.

Hayden (00:30:23):
Exactly! – [Laughs!].

Lemar (00:30:24):
And she saw that and thought, you know what? This is, this is great.

Hayden (00:30:26):
This is striking, you know? And so she really, really was like, you know, I was really appreciative and ever since then, like she had been really supportive.

Lemar (00:30:34):
That’s what people need sometimes.

Hayden (00:30:36):
Yeah! I remember doing another illustration. I think she put out her S&M video and I did it an illustration of that. And she put, I think she posted it, but then she put it as her profile picture and she had it as her profile picture on Twitter for a long period of time. This was like a good month. Maybe she had it up there.

Lemar (00:30:52):
Whoa. That’s a big help for you. Okay so, how did that initial spark with the Rihanna scenario, how did it affect your side of things?

Hayden (00:31:01):
Well, so once that started happening, um, to go back a little bit, just even before the Rihanna stuff, I started noticing blogs, because I don’t know if you remember Blogspot? I had Blogspot at one point, before I joined tumbler. And I remember putting my work on there and I remember other bloggers, who I still see now actually who have grown, you know, in the same way that I have and are doing their thing. They were reaching out to me and wanting to feature me on their blogs or interview me for the blog. And I was like, ‘Oh, this is really cool. Like, I feel really honoured’, you know? So it was like those things started happening, and then obviously once Rihanna started posting the work and followed, that’s when it was like, Oh! All eyes started to be on me.

Lemar (00:31:38):
The phone started ringing? Dm’s? Emails? What?

Hayden (00:31:43):
The dm’s and the emails. That’s when press stuff started to happen. Because I remember, um, I think it was like CBS New York. They did like a feature saying, ‘Rhianna’s favourite illustrator’. And they did like a whole press thing. And I was like, Whoa!? So stuff like that started to happen because of her posting the work.

Lemar (00:31:57):
Brilliant.

Hayden (00:31:57):
I remember not long after that, she said to me, she was starting her tour, her ‘Loud’ tour over here in the UK. She messaged me and she gave me a free ticket to come to the show and [told me] to bring someone with me. I brought my sister. And [she said] to bring my portfolio and I was like, ‘Oh, okay!’ But her, I mean her exact words were, ‘Bring a ho and go’.

Lemar (00:32:25):
[Laughs!]

Hayden (00:32:25):
Because this is Rihanna here. She’s hilarious.

Lemar (00:32:27):
Bring a ho and go.

Hayden (00:32:27):
Bring a ho and go. And I was like, okay! Uh, and then, so yeah, I went and after the concert we had the whole meet and greet scenario. I just remember her seeing me. And she embraced me, like, I was like her little brother or something. [And I was still kind of growing at that point. I was probably in my early twenties.] Like, you know, maybe she saw that purity in me of like, Oh, like this boy, like he’s so talented. She just embraced me. If you see, we took a picture and the picture – it’s like, literally she’s just squeezing me. It’s crazy.

Lemar (00:33:00):
Brilliant.

Hayden (00:33:00):
It was so cool. And then she introduced me to her manager, Jay Brown, and he took my details and I thought, okay, what is going to happen from this? I didn’t have a clue. You know? I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it was around that time. That’s when I thought, okay, the uni thing, I need to think about this seriously, what do I want to do?

Lemar (00:33:20):
Yeah.

Hayden (00:33:20):
I feel like things are happening and moving, but it’s a risk at the same time. Do I want to leave? And maybe things don’t work out, but something in me just felt like, yeah, I need to go and just take the risk and just continue doing what I was doing. But for me, what I didn’t do is I didn’t put myself in like a box like, okay, just because Rihanna shows me love. I’m going to just draw Rihanna only and become like a, you know, a Rihanna fan page. I’m not gonna, you know, I was still being very broad in what I was creating and diverse and just doing different things and drawing different people. And you know, still obviously showing love to Rihanna because she obviously was supportive of me. But at the same time, I wasn’t boxing myself in. There’s so many other things that inspire me and other people that inspire me too. And I remember, uh, not long after, a few years down the line, you know, brands started to approach me.

Lemar (00:34:06):
Was that just via dm’s as well? Or emails?

Hayden (00:34:10):
Emails and it was like, because I was growing and growing on social media and [then] I joined Instagram.

Lemar (00:34:15):
So you weren’t on Instagram then? Instagram was right up your alley! Because that’s all visual. Okay!

Hayden (00:34:20):
Yeah! Right! What happened was before I got an iPhone, I had a Blackberry.

Lemar (00:34:23):
Whoa! Remember those days?

Hayden (00:34:23):
I know! Remember those? I had a Blackberry and then the Blackberry died. And then my friends were saying to me, ‘Hayden you need to get an iPhone?’ Because you need to go on, like, you need all these different apps. Even my followers at the time on Twitter and stuff were like, ‘Oh, you should get on Instagram because people are posting your work with Instagram’.

Lemar (00:34:39):
Because it’s visual.

Hayden (00:34:39):
But people were already posting my work on there!

Lemar (00:34:39):
Oh! Oh they were getting your clout! It’s like, hold on a second! I need to be on there! Whats going on!? – [laughs].

Hayden (00:34:40):
Yeah! I wasn’t even on it at the time! And so I joined in 2012 and then I was like, ‘Oh, oh this is cool!. And then I remember like, celebrities started joining. And then I remember Rihanna followed me on there as well. So obviously she’d followed me on Twitter and [now] Instagram. And then over time, like the following was growing and I’d post the work. And then Rihanna was reposting my work on Instagram.

Lemar (00:35:05):
She’s been a real help, a real catalyst. Someone like Rihanna retweets your work, people are going to look. So, that’s good.

Hayden (00:35:10):
Yeah! So it went from Twitter to then Instagram. And Instagram was becoming a bigger thing and it was growing. And then, um, and then after that, yeah, I got approached by Coty, which is a beauty… You know, how like a brand is an umbrella and they look after other brands.

Lemar (00:35:24):
Yeah. It’s almost like a network, but for brands.

Hayden (00:35:26):
Yeah. So they basically have them Rimmel London under their umbrella. And Rimmel approached me. So it was Coty / Rimmel. They said one of our faces wants to work with you. And I was like, ‘One of their faces?’ At the time they had a few different faces, but I thought, one of their biggest ones is Kate Moss. And I thought, Hmm.

Lemar (00:35:42):
[Laughs] – That’d be good.

Hayden (00:35:43):
It can’t be Kate because, she’s not really on social media. How does she know about my work? I mean, I just wasn’t really thinking like that. I was just thinking, okay, she’s cause she’s very private. She doesn’t really, you hardly see her. And it’s like, how does she know about my work? Because I’m very social media based. And like, she didn’t have any social media. So I went to a meeting with them and yeah, they told me that they’d shown Kate my work. She’d been the face of the brand for a long time, but she was working on a project. She was going to put out some, I think it was like eye shadows and like mascaras and basically products [that] focused on the eyes. Um, it was called Eyedolize.

Lemar (00:36:15):
Okay. Nice title.

Hayden (00:36:18):
Yeah. And so basically, uh, they wanted me to create illustrations inspired by the colour palette that was in the products. The illustrations would be used to kind of help sell the, the makeup and they’d be put into like, you know, stores, like Superdrug on display alongside the makeup and, and used for social media purposes and stuff like that. And they said that Kate, literally was in love with the work and she was like, we need him.

Lemar (00:36:42):
Cream rises. Cream rises people.

Hayden (00:36:43):
Yeah! Literally! It was insane! And I was like, ‘No way?’ I just remember saying no way. I was like, ‘Really!?’ And they were like, ‘Yeah, literally we showed her and she was in love’. So after that, I think the following year, um, we ended up filming together. We filmed content. So I got to actually meet her and work with her directly. There was work that I did in my own personal time for the project and then I actually had to do illustrations with her. And she told me what she liked and what she loved. And then I just sketched it out.

Lemar (00:37:13):
You translated into what you saw…

Hayden (00:37:13):
Yeah! And she was spellbound because she was like, how the hell did he just create all of this?

Lemar (00:37:18):
10,000 hours baby – [laughs].

Hayden (00:37:19):
Yeah. I mean, it’s all I know right? She was really amazed at how quickly I could just sketch something that she had just said that she loved. And, um, and it was crazy as well because they really captured our first initial meeting, which was really cool. So that’s on YouTube still.

Lemar (00:37:34):
Nice.

Hayden (00:37:34):
That was like, what was that? 2013 I think? [Maybe] 2014? I think around that time. All this stuff started happening at once. I did an illustration of Naomi Campbell and she saw, she saw it on Twitter. Then she dm’d me on Twitter and was like, ‘I want to put your illustration of me in a book that I’m working on. What’s your email?’ And I was like, ‘Oh my goodness!’. So this was these top two Iconic supermodels who were actually friends!

Lemar (00:38:00):
Majorly iconic yeah. And she would have maybe seen the whole Kate Moss thing and thought, ‘Oh let me have a look.’

Hayden (00:38:05):
I think Naomi approached me before Rimmel came. If I remember rightly, so this was like everything just kind of syncing up.

Lemar (00:38:13):
Okay! You would have thought you’d planned it – [laughs].

Hayden (00:38:13):
Yeah! The stars were aligning and it was just really crazy. And then I said to her, I’d love to do that. What was cool about that as well is that they actually, you know how sometimes a publication or something like that, they’d think, oh, because your work is being put in a book that’s exposure for you but [no], they literally paid me as well. So that was great.

Lemar (00:38:29):
Good. There you go. Some respectful business.

Hayden (00:38:32):
And I was just starting out. But at the same time it was like, I’d kind of become more established on social media now and it was nice to get compensated for that.

Lemar (00:38:38):
Yeah, of course yeah!

Hayden (00:38:38):
Um, so it was a kind of coffee table book that she was working on at the time of all of her work. All of the photography that she’s done over the years, all the amazing work. And it didn’t come out till like 2016. So she approached me in 2013, but the book didn’t come out till like…

Lemar (00:38:54):
Three years later.

Hayden (00:38:56):
Yeah. And so I wasn’t sure if it was even gonna still be in the book. But when I reached out to, it was with Taschen which is a really huge, he’s an incredibly established publisher. Just an incredible man that’s done this amazing book. Actually, I’d love to do a book with him at some point.

Lemar (00:39:09):
That would be good. Oh yeah, because your work is all visual. That’d be great. Yeah. That is a really good idea. Yeah, you should do that.

Hayden (00:39:15):
Yeah. Do a coffee table book one day, but uh, just looking for the right. You know, how to partner up and do the right thing the right way. [So] yeah, I remember reaching out to them and saying, ‘Is the work’s still going to be in the book?’ And they were like, ‘It is.’ And they said that there was gonna be like a launch. And yeah, I got to go to that and actually meet her in person and tell her, thank you, you know, for putting the work in the book and took some photos and I’ve still got the photos, they came out really lovely and she was just aah, like, she was just amazing. Obviously she has this presence.

Lemar (00:39:42):
Yeah. She’s got a very nice heart. That’s what I say about her. She’s very embracing. I like her.

Hayden (00:39:50):
Yeah she’s real.

Lemar (00:39:50):
Yeah real, thats the word. Real.

Hayden (00:39:50):
I love her strength and she doesn’t take any nonsense from anybody. And she’s very much about supporting her black creatives. And I just love her, her strength and how passionate she is about what she does. So yeah, she was really inspiring. And it was just cool to go from like, okay, so Rihanna then Kate Moss then Naomi. But before all of that, because remember that happened obviously years later, once the book came out. But prior to that, like around 2013, I remember I did an illustration of Beyoncé.

Lemar (00:40:19):
Ah.

Hayden (00:40:19):
I was doing like a collection of work inspired by, I think it was her Ms. Carter World Tour that she’d put out. And I started coming up with creations. I was inspired by it and I was putting out the work. And at the time I remember her stylist was following me on Instagram. I can only assume that he’s the one that showed her. But the next day I remember seeing on Instagram, like after I had just posted the work, she had re posted the previous day’s work. So she had posted an illustration I’d done the day before. And it was like, I was confused. I was like, ‘Did I do a double post? What’s going on here?’ I was so confused, I saw at the top, it said Beyoncé. And I think her only caption was the blushing emoji. And I was like, ‘No way!?’ But it was a different reaction to the first time that [this all happened]. I think I was in so much shock that I just was still. I was just quiet. I didn’t know what to do.

Lemar (00:41:08):
[Laughs] – No headless chicken moment on this one.

Hayden (00:41:08):
Yeah! No, I was still excited, but it was kind of like Beyoncé doesn’t really… especially at the time as well, she didn’t really post much.

Lemar (00:41:18):
Yeah, she seems like a lot of her posts and her whole social media presence is very considered. She doesn’t just say, Oh, there’s a bit of news, [I’m going quickly just post something so that I can be ‘in the mix’ so to speak].

Hayden (00:41:26):
Yeah. It’s very strategic and planned and thought out. And she has her, you know… her photographers that work with her and she gets her shots…

Lemar (00:41:34):
Yeah. It’s all done the way she feels it should.

Hayden (00:41:36):
Yeah. But at that time she was quite new to Instagram and stuff, but it was like, she only really had shared one other person’s artwork before that. And it was a completely different style of artwork. It wasn’t like fashion illustration. So I was the first and still to this day, am probably the only fashion illustration she shared on her Instagram.

Lemar (00:41:51):
Nice. That must’ve helped as well then?

Hayden (00:41:53):
Oh! After that! It was… My phone was like!!? – [laughter].

Lemar (00:42:00):
Sometimes I wish this was filmed! Your face! Your face was funny. That was funny – Laughs!].

Hayden (00:42:05):
After that I remember as well. It was like a few months later. I remember getting a message, um, cause at the time I had my blog, I had Instagram, I had Twitter. I also started, um,

Lemar (00:42:17):
That is a ‘lot’ of work you know. The thingy, the Blog, the Twitter.

Hayden (00:42:20):
It was worth it because obviously you’re putting [something] different on all channels. So you’re, you’re not ‘overly’ saturating the market but…

Lemar (00:42:27):
No, you’re consistently putting good material out there.

Hayden (00:42:30):
Yeah. And different people are seeing it, you know? So, ‘Oh, okay. I found you on tumbler. Oh, I found you on Instagram’. That’s where people may have spotted me from different platforms and seen the work. So at that time, like I started a Facebook page for my illustrations.

Lemar (00:42:41):
You weren’t on Facebook by then?

Hayden (00:42:42):
[Whispers] – I can’t remember when I started.

Lemar (00:42:45):
[Laughs].

Hayden (00:42:45):
It’s such a blur. Because I think to myself, okay, when did I start everything? But everything kind of pretty much started around like 2009/2010. That was probably when I started putting stuff out.

Lemar (00:42:53):
Ok.

Hayden (00:42:53):
Yeah, I created a Facebook page at one point. And then, so that was growing. And then I remember getting a message on Facebook, on my Facebook page, from Parkwood Entertainment, which is Beyoncé. And they said that ‘Beyoncé loves your work’, which I’d known because she’d posted it on her Instagram. And ‘She wants to feature your work on her website’. So I was like, ‘Oh God, okay!’. And the thing is, I didn’t really check my Facebook.

Lemar (00:43:14):
That’s a big advert.

Hayden (00:43:14):
Oh no, that was huge!

Lemar (00:43:15):
That’s a huge advert right there.

Hayden (00:43:17):
But I could have really missed that message. Because I didn’t really check my Facebook inbox like that. I always think to myself, ‘Wow, I could have ‘easily’ missed that’. And then that could have disappeared and not [materialised]. So I got that and I was like, okay. So I sent them all the work I’d done of Beyoncé at the time. And then I asked if I could create something new for the feature, like something specific that was maybe, you know…

Lemar (00:43:35):
Relevant to what they were doing.

Hayden (00:43:35):
Yeah. Like, just something that’s fresh, you know? That nobody’s seen. So I did that. Sent that off. And then not long after, I think it was like, probably a couple of days before my birthday at the time. I think I was like… what? Probably 21 or 22, I can’t remember now. But they put it out and it was like – my phone. I thought my phone was gonna blow up.

Lemar (00:43:54):
[Laughter].

Hayden (00:43:54):
Everyone was like, everyone was like, ‘Beyoncé’s feat!!… Beyoncé’s featured your work on her… Her website!!’ Because obviously, once ‘Beyoncé’ features your work on her website, It’s like a whole…

Lemar (00:44:04):
No thats… yeah.

Hayden (00:44:04):
You know, it was, it was insane! And I felt very, very honoured and just very grateful.

Lemar (00:44:11):
That must’ve helped on the ‘brands reaching out’ and that whole thing.

Hayden (00:44:16):
Yeah. Again… like, the domino effect of everything just…

Lemar (00:44:18):
And that was after…

Hayden (00:44:19):
After Rihanna

Lemar (00:44:19):
After Kate Moss? Naomi?

Hayden (00:44:19):
That was… That was around the same… pretty much around the same time!

Lemar (00:44:29):
That is a ‘lot’ of stuff going on at once – [laughs].

Hayden (00:44:29):
Yeah! I think 2013, the Beyoncé thing happened. Naomi approached me 2013. Then in 2014, the Kate Moss thing happened because that project actually ‘came’ out during that period. But I think the meeting happened the year before. So everything kind of just was like aligning and happening. Other brands were approaching me. But at the same time I wanted to make sure that the things I was doing made sense. I didn’t want to just do everything because not everything made sense for the brand, for my brand I was trying to build. And at that point I was like, okay, [it looks like] this is gonna be a full time thing now. Like, this is literally, you know, [I’ve] left uni, things seem to be going well. So let’s just continue on this path and see where this goes.

Lemar (00:45:09):
Yeah. so the Naomi thing came out in 2016?

Hayden (00:45:11):
Yeah.

Lemar (00:45:11):
Then in 2017, the Bratz dolls started happening right?

Hayden (00:45:16):
So basically, in the middle of all of those years, so many different projects were happening, like different things, brands and things.

Lemar (00:45:22):
It doesn’t sound like there’s time for anything else – [laughs].

Hayden (00:45:24):
Yeah I know! Each year it felt like something else was happening. So yeah, the Bratz thing happened. I remember I was putting, my own Bratz designs out on Twitter and the CEO of MGA entertainment, which is the company that makes the Bratz dolls. The CEO, his name is Isaac Larian – billionaire [laughs] – you know, as you do. He saw the work on Twitter and he was like, ‘Oh my God! You’re the most talented artist I’ve seen in a decade. When are you coming to LA? When are you coming to LA? You need to move to LA. When are you coming to LA?’ So it was like a consistent thing. And he was like…

Lemar (00:46:02):
Brilliant. So, a number of times he dm’d you or just once?

Hayden (00:46:05):
No, this was public tweets. He was retweeting the work and tweeting me. Because I was doing like multiple different Bratz art work and I was obviously, you know, ‘tagging’ him and his reaction was kind of blowing my mind. So I was, I thinking to myself, okay, ‘Well you can make that happen!?’

Lemar (00:46:20):
Invite me out. I’ll come. Yeah. I shall appear.

Hayden (00:46:23):
Just magically! Yeah, come to LA. And then the next thing I knew – it actually happened. We went from Twitter to email. He offered me the chance to actually design a line of dolls. So like, five dolls. A collector line of Bratz dolls.

Lemar (00:46:37):
Come on. You must’ve been like. Headless chicken moment. Running around the room again – [laughs].

Hayden (00:46:41):
Because I’d always dreamt of doing that. And obviously, going back to the school years of being featured in Bratz magazine, it was like everything had come full circle. Literally come full circle.

Lemar (00:46:49):
Perfect. Yeah.

Hayden (00:46:49):
And all the achievements in between, I guess this was taking me back to my childhood.

Lemar (00:46:55):
A proper passion project.

Hayden (00:46:56):
Literally. And I was in my element. I remember going to LA. I went to LA for the first time, such a great experience! I was meant to be there for like two weeks, but they extended it to three because I was basically there to create the prototypes. With prototypes, you’re getting the fabrics that you’re going to use for the fashions, for the dolls. And then it’s such an incredible process. There’s a hair rooter, there are five different people that work on the outfits, seamstresses that work specifically on each character.

Lemar (00:47:22):
It’s like doing it for adults. For humans.

Hayden (00:47:24):
Yeah but just miniature. Literally Bratz size. And the thing is what was great about Bratz and what I think helped make them such a success, is they were very edgy and very ahead of their time fashion wise. They were just very true to what teenagers were wearing.

Lemar (00:47:38):
I see.

Hayden (00:47:38):
MGA, what I love about them is that they didn’t try and create clothes for these dolls that felt like…

Lemar (00:47:48):
Like dolls clothes. Like, someone ‘would’ wear that, but it’s just on something thats smaller. Yeah.

Hayden (00:47:51):
Right! Or things that teens would ‘want’ to wear. Teens and older, like it was very mature and it felt incredibly edgy, very daring and unapologetically fashion forward. I had free reign creatively when it came to designing the dolls and yeah, there was this amazing man that works there as well, that paints all the faces. And so he hand paints the makeup and everything.

Lemar (00:48:12):
Oh, wow. He’s from the same genetic pool as you! – [laughs].

Hayden (00:48:14):
Yeah! And I’d always known about him. It was a dream to like, ‘Oh my God, I’m finally getting to work with him!’

Lemar (00:48:19):
Just through research you’d known about him?

Hayden (00:48:20):
Yeah. Because on YouTube, there’s videos showing behind the scenes of Isaac Larry the CEO going into his office, the headquarters. And so I knew what the headquarters looked like from just those videos.

Lemar (00:48:30):
So seeing it in person must have been…

Hayden (00:48:32):
Yeah. And getting to work with all these people who have been there for years. Literally. He is so talented. The way he paints the faces and he kind of brought my vision to life on each of the dolls. What happens is, so when they do the hand painting, it’s kind of, that’s the prototype. So then when you build the whole thing together, you have the base, you choose the hair colours and then the hair rooting lady, she roots the hair. When you put the head, it’s almost like a, um, almost like a sewing machine, like the way they do the head and then the hair goes in and it’s, it’s insane when you see it! Yeah, so I did all of that. I was there three weeks specifically to create that. And then we showed all five of the prototypes to Isaac and he was like, yep, they’re great! Let’s go.

Lemar (00:49:12):
It must’ve been a bit of a fairy tale dream for you. Like, wow, I’m doing this, but – you must’ve had a few pinch yourself moments while you were there thinking, wow, this is, uh, this is cool.

Hayden (00:49:21):
I was ‘in my element’. Literally.

Lemar (00:49:24):
Just teeth! All you can see his teeth when you look at Hayden. Just smiles – teeth! – [laughs].

Hayden (00:49:27):
Yeah just so happy! Every day we was working, but the weekends I had off and those weekends I had off, I was like, ‘I want to go to work!’ Because it was a new thing for me. I’m so used to working for myself and, you know, working in my own space, just sketching, coming up with creations, putting out illustrations. But to be in this work environment and they gave me a desk that I had, my own little computer that I had. [I was] working amongst all these creatives or people that, you know, um, deal with the different elements of the toy. So I was entering a different, slightly different industry in a way. I’d had a taste of going into beauty, working on the Kate Moss project and seeing my work in stores and alongside cosmetics, I’d that taste. But then I was going into the toy world now and designing dolls. So it was kind of like a new [thing]. My artwork was taking me into different places. And it was like, ‘Whoa!’ Like, ‘Yeah, I definitely enjoy doing this. This is really fun!’

Lemar (00:50:16):
Yeah. Two questions.One – Did you tell Isaac Larian about the thing that happened when you were younger with sending in the picture for the dolls? Did you tell them?

Hayden (00:50:24):
The feature? Um, He knew that? I.

Lemar (00:50:25):
He knew that!?

Hayden (00:50:25):
No, no, no, no,

Lemar (00:50:27):
Oh! I was gonna say…

Hayden (00:50:27):
No, no, because what happened was, I think I had posted about it on my Instagram and my Twitter. And I think I’d tagged him. So I think he was aware of it probably after.

Lemar (00:50:36):
Alright, cool.

Hayden (00:50:36):
And I remember as well, resharing that. When I announced that I was going to be doing the project.

Lemar (00:50:42):
You re-shared the fact that when you were whatever age [you won a competition for the same company].

Hayden (00:50:44):
Yeah. Kind of, you know… A throwback. And kind of saying, because it’s inspirational, right!?

Lemar (00:50:55):
Of course. Of course! ‘Very’ inspirational.

Hayden (00:50:55):
Its an aspirational / inspirational thing. [Just] to say to people, look, don’t give up on your dream as cheesy as it may sound like don’t, you know…

Lemar (00:50:55):
I remember me growing up, I was inspired by that [advert]. Remember the one with Tyrese [Gibson], on the bus?

Hayden (00:51:04):
Oh yeah!

Lemar (00:51:04):
And he comes on to the bus singing the Coca Cola [song]? Oh man, I was inspired by that! I wanted to write in to Coca Cola and all that. That was amazing.

New Speaker (00:51:09):
Oh that’s so cool!

Lemar (00:51:09):
I thought, ‘I could do that! I could do that in London!’.

New Speaker (00:51:11):
And look! And you did.

Lemar (00:51:12):
Well basically I guess I did. Yeah. Turned out alright.

Hayden (00:51:16):
Actually I remember seeing that commercial in America.

Lemar (00:51:16):
Oh ok. Yeah?

New Speaker (00:51:16):
Yeah, I was in, I was in Florida actually when that commercial [came out], because it was like huge at the time, you know? And that’s, what’s so cool, as well, somebody who looks like me can see that happen.

Lemar (00:51:25):
There you go.

New Speaker (00:51:25):
And that was so cool as well because I was involved in pretty much every element. So like, even the packaging of the dolls.

Lemar (00:51:31):
The packaging as well?

New Speaker (00:51:32):
Yeah. Having free reign to be involved in all the creative aspects. So yeah, they came up with different mockups of the packaging and they put my face on the side. Because I’d designed the dolls in advance. Before I even got to LA I knew exactly what I wanted to do ‘looks’ wise. So I had already sketched the designs and then we brought them to life in prototype form when I went to LA. Once I got back to London, after the three weeks were done, I was still working on the project. You know, [via] emails and they were sending me the pictures of [everything]. As the stages [were going] on. Once they [went] into production, they [were showing] me the different sample stages. Like for example, certain things may change from [the] prototype. There were certain fabrics that we may have gotten in [the] prototype stage, that may have to change in production sample stage. So it was a whole process learning that whole world.

Lemar (00:52:20):
The second question was, the end product. Were you like, it’s spot on exactly what you wanted?

Hayden (00:52:24):
It was super close!

Lemar (00:52:26):
Brilliant. Give or take.

New Speaker (00:52:26):
Because basically there’s always a compromise because there’s always, um, reduction costs, there are budgets and things like that, that you have to take into consideration. So there’s always – in prototype form – there are always little, maybe slight details that may have to…

Lemar (00:52:37):
Either be edited out or changed slightly to make it cost effective for mass production.

Hayden (00:52:42):
Yeah. And so there was challenging parts with that, you know?

Lemar (00:52:48):
It’s like being a musician. You have your idea of what you want your album to be, but then you have a product manager and you have an A&R man. And these people are well-versed in the selling of things and know what ‘generally’ works. So there’s always that hard compromising part that you have to do during, in music it’s during creation and during the actual release. But ultimately you have to say, do you know what, you’ve given your 100% and you trust that obviously, the company understands what they’ve been doing for years. And then you kind of meet, hopefully not middle ground, hopefully it’s like 90/10 or 80/20 you give.

Hayden (00:53:26):
Yeah. Oh no. 100% It was very much so. And they were so close to the prototypes too so I was very happy with how [thing’s turned out. On] the end result, they put like a little bio about me on the side of the packaging, which was insane!

Lemar (00:53:35):
You can’t pay you for that [promotion]! You can’t pay for it!

Hayden (00:53:38):
Literally. I remember as a kid, seeing other designers have their artwork and their signature on packaging. I’m a doll collector, so was always something that I wanted to happen. But then seeing it, it’s like, ‘Oh wow! I’ve actually accomplished this, this dream!’ What’s great is that other people that look like me, or that have the same dream as me, they can see that and be like, ‘Oh, if Hayden can do that then obviously’…

Lemar (00:53:58):
I can be inspired by it and it’s achievable.

Hayden (00:54:00):
Yeah, it ‘is’ achievable because you know, I didn’t, uh, it just happened organically. You know? He saw the work, he gave me that opportunity and um, so yeah, that happened [and] we put the dolls out. It was an Amazon exclusive at the time.

Lemar (00:54:12):
Perfect.

New Speaker (00:54:12):
But now they are also in brick and mortar stores. So they are in a shop called, um… I think it’s a department store in Australia called Myer. And they’re also, if I remember rightly, I remember seeing recently they were on Target, in America’s website.

Lemar (00:54:25):
Target? Nice.

New Speaker (00:54:25):
So yeah. So that was like insane. And then also you do the whole PR rollout and you promote, you know? I had a list of people that I wanted to send the dolls to. And so obviously over the years, like even before designing the Bratz, I’d built up this incredible fan base. And I didn’t mention her before but, you know, Ariana Grande was a fan of my work. She had been posting my work a lot and from like what, 2012? So from the beginning [before] I had even started Instagram, she had been following.

Lemar (00:54:51):
Really good.

New Speaker (00:54:51):
And so I’ve seen her grow, she’s seen me grow, like all these people have seen me grow.

Lemar (00:54:55):
That’s really good.

New Speaker (00:54:55):
Yeah. So then there was a list of people that I had in my mind, like a PR list of who, who could I send my dolls to? Um, that I’d just designed. So then, you know, we sent one to Naomi Campbell, we sent one to Rihanna and I remember all of them sharing on their social media. And so that was huge.

Lemar (00:55:10):
Like I said earlier. You can-not ‘pay’ for that publicity – [laughs].

Hayden (00:55:13):
No, literally! Because none of them were. It was literally because they they’d seen me grow.

Lemar (00:55:16):
Yeah. Out of love, just… ‘Do you know what? This guy is talented. We think he’s talented and we’re just going to support’. And I think that is ‘so’ beautiful.

Hayden (00:55:24):
I was so appreciative of that. I remember as well, like, the Kardashians. They had been a fan of my work too. And you know, over the years, Kim and Kylie had posted my work and stuff. And I remember when I reached out to Kim. I dm’d her and I asked her if she’d want to receive some of the dolls. And she was like, yeah! And she gave me an address. And then she posted the whole set! Because we sent her the whole set. Um, and she posted it on her story. It’s still in my highlights on my Instagram.

Lemar (00:55:53):
Just goodwill from people. I like it.

New Speaker (00:55:54):
Genuine!

Lemar (00:55:54):
I like it. Cause I don’t know, with, you know, it happens in music, I’m pretty sure it happens in, um, in all walks of life. But your experience of social media, it’s been a very nurturing community for you.

New Speaker (00:56:05):
Yeah.

Lemar (00:56:05):
And I think that’s really nice, you know, wherever you are on the ladder, if you’re up and you see talent, it’s good to highlight it or support it in some way or applaud it in some way. And if you’re slightly further down the ladder and you’re trying to get up and you ‘are’ talented, and you’ve put in your 10,000 hours, it’s nice to receive that, that support. And that little help up that ladder because it does wonders. It does wonders, as we can see, it does ‘wonders’ for the person, you know… lower down. It’s great.

Hayden (00:56:29):
Absolutely. You know I never thought… because you’re always a bit wary like… it’s one thing for them to repost maybe artwork of themselves.

Lemar (00:56:37):
Yeah.

New Speaker (00:56:37):
But are they genuinely following you because they just love to see your artwork in general?

Lemar (00:56:42):
Because they think you’re talented. Yeah, it’s two different things.

New Speaker (00:56:42):
And if you do have your own projects, would they support it? Would they actually, because they don’t have to. Nobody’s obligated to. And you know, at the same time nobody’s kind of, you know, being paid to promote anything.

Lemar (00:56:51):
Exactly. And you’d think that if there’s no financial reciprocation or benefit in some way, why ‘should’ they retweet it?

New Speaker (00:56:59):
Yeah!

Lemar (00:56:59):
So it’s nice. So, you know, you have to applaud, you know, like Kim etc for doing that.

Hayden (00:57:04):
Yeah! Because, I know how influential they are in terms of social media.

Lemar (00:57:07):
Extremely!

New Speaker (00:57:07):
And how much they get, [I mean], we don’t know the ‘exact’ amounts, but they apparently get paid a lot of money to promote certain things. So for Kim to want to just do that out of the kindness of her heart…

Lemar (00:57:18):
Very nice.

New Speaker (00:57:18):
As kind of like an added incentive as well, I did an illustration of each of the people that we sent them to as, like a Bratz doll. It was a great.

Lemar (00:57:25):
Oh that’s a good one. You’re a PR guru Hayden! You understand it! – [laughs!].

New Speaker (00:57:25):
That was great to see them repost that too. I did one of her and North.

Lemar (00:57:35):
Yeah. Ah that’s a nice one.

New Speaker (00:57:35):
She said North loves it, it’s in her room! So I was like, ‘Oh my God! Oh it’s in her room, that’s so cool!’ And Naomi posted, I didn’t expect her to post. You know? Um, Rihanna said to me, ‘Oh! Look what arrived at my house!’ I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s so cool!’

Lemar (00:57:47):
Brilliant. That’s nice.

New Speaker (00:57:47):
But then! See, it was a double whammy because around that time, Kylie, Kylie Jenna, I mean, she had posted my work before on her Instagram, but she actually dm’d me this time. And it was like, ‘Oh! This is random. Like, okay!?’ Yeah, she dm’d me. And she said to me, she had a project with me in mind, like, do I have a number that she can reach me on? So I was like, ‘Okay!’ So I gave her my number.

Lemar (00:58:11):
Cool. Why not.

New Speaker (00:58:11):
And then I think the next day, I got a phone call coming in from LA and I answered it. She was like, ‘Hayden?’ And I was like ‘Kylie?’ – [laughter]. And it was like, ‘Oh my goodness!’ It was kinda funny. Because it was like, okay, I’ve seen this girl on TV and I’ve heard her talk and stuff, then you’ll actually talking to her on the phone. It’s kinda like, ‘Oh, okay!?’.

Lemar (00:58:31):
So was it a Kate Moss moment?

New Speaker (00:58:31):
Similar type of thing in terms of makeup? Right, so she has her ‘Kylie Cosmetics’ and at the time she was doing a collaboration with her friend at the time. (Who I don’t think she’s friends with anymore.) And uh, she asked me to do, um, some artwork for that. And she had a specific thing in mind that she wanted and it was gonna be an illustration with her and her friend. And it was gonna be put on the packaging, like the unicarton’s and things like that.

Lemar (00:58:57):
Nice.

New Speaker (00:58:57):
She had a specific kind of colour scheme in mind to match the makeup and all that stuff. And she was telling me, and I was like, ‘Okay’. She was very straight to the point about her business. But what I liked is that she actually approached me herself. She wanted to speak to me herself on the phone.

Lemar (00:59:09):
Yeah, it wasn’t through an assistant, of an assistant, of an assistant. Yeah.

Hayden (00:59:12):
You know, I think that was cool. So yeah, then it went into business mode after that in terms of like, ‘Ok, I’ll get my people to reach out to you’. And then we discussed about, you know, my rates and all that stuff and what that’s going to be. And then what was so crazy is that, that came out just before the Bratz stuff happened, everything happened…

Lemar (00:59:34):
This is an avalanche of PR though. An avalanche. You couldn’t ‘pay’ a PR company to get you that PR. You would have to re-mortgage your house.

New Speaker (00:59:43):
Yeah! – [Laughs].

Lemar (00:59:43):
You would! That’s a LOT! You know, I wasn’t sure what was going to take from this conversation, but what I really like is just the beauty of putting effort into something, making sure you are the best at what it is that you do within your area in your passion…

New Speaker (01:00:01):
Your field.

Lemar (01:00:01):
Yeah your field. And doing it with passion. And then other people supporting that. I think what I’m loving is the genuine appreciation and support. That part. It’s very nice.

Hayden (01:00:12):
Yeah. It feels very organic. You know? My growth has been organic. And obviously by this stage, my followers, I can’t remember when I reached a million followers, but there’s a million followers on Instagram.

Lemar (01:00:23):
Boom.

New Speaker (01:00:23):
And then to this day, I still think I probably am one of, if not ‘the’ most followed fashion illustrator on Instagram.

Lemar (01:00:30):
That’s a big achievement.

New Speaker (01:00:32):
It’s a great thing. And obviously Instagram has changed a lot now, social media has changed a lot. It’s a lot more oversaturated.

Lemar (01:00:37):
Extremely.

New Speaker (01:00:37):
And obviously with success [and] putting [your] stuff out publicly, people will take your things.

Lemar (01:00:46):
Yep!

New Speaker (01:00:46):
And will put stuff on garments or apparel. And put print stuff. That’s happened a lot.

Lemar (01:00:52):
Whoa. That’s a bit much!? Nah that’s, that’s crossing a line there. Hold on mate!

Hayden (01:00:58):
But you see, I was clever in getting a lawyer from like the beginning. I think I’ve had the same legal team since like, 2010.

Lemar (01:01:05):
Good.

New Speaker (01:01:05):
That has helped. Because obviously when stuff like that does happen and my followers are very great like that. They always tell me like, ‘Okay, this person’s selling your work. Is this legit? This doesn’t seem legit.’.

Lemar (01:01:14):
Good people!

New Speaker (01:01:14):
Very good. Like they always tell me like, okay, people are selling stuff on t-shirts. Literally printing stuff. Wholesale companies. They’ll just literally just put stuff on t-shirts [and don’t] care [about who created it]. And it’s not just my artwork. I see other people’s artwork that I’ve seen on Instagram.

Lemar (01:01:28):
That’s cold.

New Speaker (01:01:28):
They don’t care! Because they just think, ‘Oh, because you’ve put it out publicly. It’s free reign. We can just sell it.’ But it’s so unfair because obviously us as artists, we put out a lot, you know? And fashion illustration isn’t really appreciated enough as I think it’s, it should be anyway. Um, we work so hard and then it’s like, people just take the stuff and just sell it and make a profit.

Lemar (01:01:46):
That’s not cool.

New Speaker (01:01:46):
That’s obviously never cool co, so yeah, there’s that downside. And then there’s also other artists that I’ve inspired and they are clearly inspired. Because you can see it in the work. I think sometimes when it gets a bit too close in terms of inspiration…

Lemar (01:01:57):
Then, is it copying now or is it?

New Speaker (01:01:57):
Yeah. And then obviously they they’re capitalising off of your kind of ‘aesthetic’ to some degree.

Lemar (01:02:05):
Yes. Do they credit you?

New Speaker (01:02:05):
Some do, but for the most part there’s some that, that just don’t. And then it’s funny because whenever somebody else does say, ‘Oh, that looks like Hayden Williams work!’ Sometimes they get salty about it. And then they start hating you! Like, ‘Me!?’ Fault.

Lemar (01:02:19):
[Laughs] – It’s not your fault. You’re just doing what you do!

Hayden (01:02:20):
Yeah! I just, I’m creating and obviously you’re inspired by the work but…

Lemar (01:02:22):
But you’re trying to say you’re not inspired. But, dude…

New Speaker (01:02:22):
I think what it is, is they get offended by the comparison. But it’s like, well, obviously people are seeing a similarity there. You know? It’s not ‘me’ saying to people, ‘Go and say that’.

Lemar (01:02:34):
Yeah. And also the first cut’s the deepest. You made the first cut! So someone’s going to say, ‘Oh, I’ve seen this over here. And I think, yeah, I think this is pretty close to it’. So…

Hayden (01:02:44):
I think in the beginning stages, it kind of irked me more a little bit, but now, unless someone is directly taking, like completely directly copying, then it’s a different scenario. But if people are inspired now it’s like, [whatever]. And at the same time, not to throw shade at anybody or whatever, but for the most part, the things that I’ve accomplished and the kind of things I’ve done, the people that have emulated, they haven’t really gotten those same opportunities.

Lemar (01:03:11):
Yeah. That’s what I mean, the first cut is the deepest. You’ve come and you’ve done something in a space that was very unique, very niche. And it’s been recognised. So anything that comes after that, I mean, it’s fine and it will be appreciated, I’m sure. But it would have to be what you’ve done, but with a completely different twist, [in order] to get its own audience. So it’s going to be hard to take from [your] audience. The hardest thing in anything is building an audience. You know? Once you ‘have’ that audience, [that’s half the job done].

Hayden (01:03:37):
Yeah. I mean look, I think I’ve carved out a little, you know, signature style that stands out. And obviously that’s why people have been drawn to what I do and you know, [fallen] in love with it. But I’m very happy to see other people inspired by the work. I just think sometimes there are definitely, um, there are definitely artists that have, have tried to kind of capitalise off of that. I think as well, sometimes when maybe a brand or when somebody that wants an illustration done in my style, but maybe they can’t get it.

Lemar (01:04:04):
Get you or afford it or whatever.

New Speaker (01:04:04):
They then go to the person that’s not…

Lemar (01:04:06):
Not quite, but it’s close enough – [laughs]. For them.

Hayden (01:04:08):
Yeah. And again, that may come across shady, but it’s just the real situation. Because I’ve seen it happen before. I guess in some way, in me passing on something, you know, it gets somebody else work, which is great. That’s how social media, and business and things. I also have to, um, mention Oprah as well. Because Oprah’s has my work as well. In her…

Lemar (01:04:27):
Oprah Winfrey!? Oprah, OWN Network owning Oprah Winfrey?

Hayden (01:04:30):
Yeah! Uhuh! She has a custom illustration. I’ve got a picture of her with it and she’s like…

Lemar (01:04:35):
You gotta show me that picture. Oprah Winfrey.

New Speaker (01:04:35):
Yeah! Yeah. It’s insane. The amount of people that have been…

Lemar (01:04:40):
So how did Oprah reach out to you!?

New Speaker (01:04:40):
Someone that I know knows her and told her about my work. She was basically like, ‘You should create a custom illustration for her and I will make sure she gets it’. And that’s how that happened. And she was in love with it.

Lemar (01:04:52):
Ok. And she took a picture [with] it.

Hayden (01:04:54):
Yeah. And I still have that photo. So obviously that’s a huge moment.

Lemar (01:04:59):
That’s huge man.

New Speaker (01:04:59):
It’s always incredibly cool to see, you know, people that I’ve seen…

Lemar (01:05:01):
Icons!

New Speaker (01:05:01):
Like for example, going back to Beyonce and stuff. I feel like I’ve watched her grow. I’ve seen, you know, Rihanna grow. All these different people grow into what they are today from the beginning of their careers. And then like to see them show me love is just like, ‘Oh my God!’.

Lemar (01:05:16):
It’s a beautiful thing.

Hayden (01:05:16):
Same thing with you! Like, you know? I’ve seen you grow. We’ve seen each other grow. We’ve known each other for such a long time and it’s great to have that. You know?

Lemar (01:05:25):
Yeah exactly. That’s why when I was doing this, I was like – Hayden. I’ve gotta put Hayden on here. I mean, you know, I’ve been on my own journey, but then seeing you like ‘intensely’ [get to where you are]. Again from the outside it can always seem like [thing’s happened] all of a sudden, which is why I like to get backstory. To remind people that, ‘D’you know what?’ It ‘is’ beautiful to see people in a certain scenario. But it takes work. There’s luck, but there isn’t luck. There is luck in that once you’ve put in the effort, things fall into place. But trust me without the effort – and the effort is so much harder than people think – or, take’s so many more years than people think. Without the effort, the luck bit doesn’t work. Rihanna ‘might’ have looked at the thing and thought, yeah it’s ‘alright’.

Hayden (01:06:04):
Yeah she didn’t have to retweet it.

Lemar (01:06:04):
‘Yeah, its alright’. You know? Kylie might’ve looked and said, ‘Yeah it’s alright’. But because they were looking and thinking, ‘No this is ‘really’ good’.

Hayden (01:06:12):
Yeah, Something stood out to them, to make them.

Lemar (01:06:14):
And what stood out to them is, you’d put [the] 10,000 hours in!

Hayden (01:06:16):
Yeah. And [seem to] like seeing themselves in my interpretation of them. Because it’s not just a regular sketch or drawing. It’s not a portrait. It’s a…

Lemar (01:06:25):
[Deep voice impersonation] – it’s a ‘fashion illustration’ – [laughter].

Hayden (01:06:25):
It’s a fashion illustration. But obviously I have ‘something’ that stands out and makes, my interpretation of them… It’s almost like, um…

Lemar (01:06:35):
It’s unique.

Hayden (01:06:35):
It’s a stylised version. It’s not realism. You know? And sometimes some people who may not understand what a fashion illustration is, they kind of get confused by that. Because I know I’ve obviously had the odd criticism as well, like people who say, ‘Oh, your illustrations, they’re too thin! It’s a bad example!’.

Lemar (01:06:47):
Ugh. Everybody has an opinion, but you’ve just got to do you.

Hayden (01:06:50):
Yeah! Like, you know? And then when I’ve done more kind of experimental [stuff] and done more curvy illustration’s [they’d say], ‘Oh that’s not curvy enough!’ Or, ‘That skin tone is too light!’ Or, ‘That doesn’t look like the person!’ It’s like, literally it’s not meant to be an ‘exact replica’ of the person. It’s meant to be kind of… It’s stylised version of them.

Lemar (01:07:05):
Yeah. [Deep voice impersonation] – It’s a ‘fashion illustration’ – [laughter].

Hayden (01:07:07):
You’re not gonna stop doing this now – [laughs!]. But no, it’s like, it’s meant to be a fantasy. A slightly more cartoon esque, a more, um, just an exaggerated version of them.

Lemar (01:07:18):
Where does the whole misguided thing fit into that timeline?

Hayden (01:07:20):
Okay. So last year I thought to myself, ‘Okay, I’ve done all these amazing things. What’s next?’ Because I’m always thinking, what’s next? I’ve always said, fashion is the main focus. How can I get to do something where I’m actually designing? I want to collaborate. I’m not ready to start a fashion house yet because that takes a lot of time.

Lemar (01:07:38):
That takes a lot of work and a different skillset. Well… An ‘additional’ skillset as well.

Hayden (01:07:42):
Yeah. It’s more so in terms of creatively, yes, I’m ready. But ‘realistically’, there’s investment and collaboration and building with someone else that sees that too. And partnering with somebody to make that happen or to do it the right way or how I would want to do it anyway. That will happen. And I’m very much focused on making that happen. But the focus, I think for me, was like, okay, I know that my sketches and my designs are high end. They’re more the luxury market. But then I know my followers, a lot of them are quite young and I know, not everybody could afford maybe a £3000.00 dress. How could I do something that’s a bit more affordable and accessible? So, we’ve seen all these fashion brands come, [take] over the market and just be ‘huge’. I was the one that actually reached out at this time. Because usually, all the years that [things] have happened, brands are the ones that reached out to me. But I thought, why not…

Lemar (01:08:31):
Yeah. See what you like. See what ‘you’ want.

Hayden (01:08:33):
Yeah! Reach out myself and see what happens. I did. I reached out to Nitin who is the CEO of Missguided. And was like, ‘Yeah, let’s set up a meeting’. We went from Instagram to email and then we met up. I met him in Soho somewhere. We discussed doing a collab and he was like, ‘Let’s do it’. And I was like, ‘Oh, okay!’.

Lemar (01:08:57):
Cool.

Hayden (01:08:58):
Obviously, because it’s fast fashion, the turnaround is very quick.

Lemar (01:09:01):
From beginning to end, that process, how long do you think it was?

Hayden (01:09:04):
So, March was when we had the meeting and then the actual collection came out in November, I believe. And after that initial meeting with him, he said to me, ‘You know, obviously things move quite fast’. And I said, ‘Look, I’ll have a collection’…

Lemar (01:09:20):
[Laughs] – Tomorrow night!

Hayden (01:09:23):
Yeah, literally! I’ll have a collection sketched to you by the next week.

Lemar (01:09:27):
Wow.

Hayden (01:09:27):
Because I already knew what my thing was going to be, like what my vibe was. And I knew, [it was the] same thing with the Bratz [dolls]. I kind of knew, where I was gonna go.

Lemar (01:09:33):
How long was the process with the Bratz then? Just out of curiosity.

Hayden (01:09:36):
Ok so that was way longer. Dolls, pretty much… designing dolls takes like, a year.

Lemar (01:09:40):
Whoa. Longer than for a human being. That’s crazy – [laughs].

Hayden (01:09:40):
Yeah! Okay so I think I sketched them [in] 2017, the sketches and stuff were done. Went to LA in 2017, the dolls didn’t come out until… My projects tend to come out around the same time. It’s always November, around then. Before Christmas.

Lemar (01:09:59):
Just in time for christmas. Just like the greatest hits albums, just before Christmas – [laughter].

Hayden (01:10:03):
Perfect timing. But um, obviously these brands are very, you know, smart like that. They always tend to come out around November.

Lemar (01:10:06):
Yeah. Gift season.

Hayden (01:10:07):
Exactly. But like I remember the Bratz thing happened, it took about a year.

Lemar (01:10:12):
So the ones for the human beings were shorter.

Hayden (01:10:16):
Yeah, the Missguided and the fast fashion, it was way quicker.

Lemar (01:10:16):
Alright, cool. Did you enjoy that process as much?

Hayden (01:10:18):
Yeah! It was amazing. Beause I was like, ‘Oh my God! I can finally have my own collection.’ Collaborating and still building my name with an established brand.

Lemar (01:10:25):
Yeah. Come on, Missguided, that’s great.

Hayden (01:10:25):
They’ve collaborated obviously with some cool people, you know? And some cool brands as well, established brands. It was so quick. I didn’t expect it to come out the same year. You know? I didn’t know it was gonna be that quick, but when, you know, the way Nitin described it, he was like, ‘Look, it’s fast’. And I had the collection already sketched out. I sent it to him, showed him and he was like, ‘It looks great!’ Because they’re based in Manchester, I had to go to Manchester to oversee the picking of the fabrics and see samples and all of that stuff. And then it just so happened that they were filming a documentary for Channel 4 at the same time. So the next thing, they were like, Oh, by the way, we’re filming. Um, do you mind being part of the [programme]? So I was like, ‘Oh! Okay’. So I think it’s like a four part series. And um, they’re basically just showing inside how they work and they kind of captured me doing…

Lemar (01:11:15):
The creative process.

Hayden (01:11:16):
The creative process of doing a collection, you know? And I think it was cool as well. Because I think I’m the first black illustrator that they’ve done a project with, like ‘a collection’. So I thought, Oh, that’s cool. They’ve captured that for TV on a mainstream channel.

Lemar (01:11:31):
That’s a really good book.

Hayden (01:11:32):
Yeah. So I’m excited to see that. A bit nervous obviously, you know, being on TV and all [that].

Lemar (01:11:36):
More free publicity. My life is one free publicity thing – [laughs].

Hayden (01:11:40):
Yeah. That was just – crazy how things work out, right? Just the timing of it. The collection was coming out and…

Lemar (01:11:46):
When the time is right, the time is right man.

Hayden (01:11:47):
Timing is so. It’s so crazy you know.

Lemar (01:11:47):
So again, you enjoyed that whole process?

Hayden (01:11:50):
I enjoyed the process!

Lemar (01:11:51):
And the end product was close to what you envisioned? Your end vision?

Hayden (01:11:55):
Oh! Absolutely! I wanted to do something very 90’s, very Clueless inspired. Because Clueless is one of my favourite films of all time. Actually just turned, it just turned 30 actually.

Lemar (01:12:01):
30!!

Hayden (01:12:01):
It’s mad right? Or is it? No actually, no! It turned 25.

Lema (01:12:05):
25! It turned 25. Alright.

Hayden (01:12:07):
And it’s always been, even through my artwork, it’s always been like, the styling of that movie, it’s so timeless. The plaid and the patterns with the suits and the knee high socks, I just love the whole look and the aesthetic of the movie. And so I was like, oh, for my first collection, it makes sense to kind of…

Lemar (01:12:22):
Emulate that. Yeah.

Hayden (01:12:22):
Take inspiration from something that I really love. And it did really well. I remember actually, the first thing that sold out was one of the cropped t-shirts that had my artwork on it.

Lemar (01:12:32):
Okay. Now, you know why those brands are printing your t-shirts mate – [laughs].

Hayden (01:12:38):
But how funny that was the first thing to sell out!? And I was thinking to myself, ‘Oh wow, that’s cool’. And over time, more and more stuff started to sell out and they had to keep restocking and keep restocking.

Lemar (01:12:45):
Brilliant.

Hayden (01:12:45):
Um, we had the launch for that. We had a little launch dinner. Also when I designed the collection, I said to them, would it be possible if I had designed a custom outfit inspired by the collection. You know? I was gonna be like a boy version of Cher Horowitz kind of.

Lemar (01:13:01):
Nice. Yeah.

Hayden (01:13:01):
You know? Like the yellow plaid, the beret and the blazer and trousers, but my version of it. And um, so they made it for me and I wore that to the launch and also I wore it when we were filming. Because I ended up being part of the campaign. When we did the campaign shooting with the models, they were like, ‘Oh, yeah get into the shot! We’ll do this little shot’. I thought, ‘Oh now I’m a model too! I’m modelling as well!’ – [laughs].

Lemar (01:13:20):
That’s a good look. It sounds like just continuous positivity. That’s really, really good.

Hayden (01:13:27):
Yeah, no, that was just, that was a really fun process. Going down to Manchester and doing the whole, you know, seeing the samples, then filming as well with Channel 4 each time.

Lemar (01:13:34):
What was the collection called? Hayden Williams…

Hayden (01:13:38):
Hayden Williams x Missguided.

Lemar (01:13:39):
You’ve got the right name for it as well. [Deep voice impersonation] – Hayden WIlliams.

Hayden (01:13:40):
[Laughs] – When you say it like that.

Lemar (01:13:40):
[Deep voice impersonation] – Fashion illustrator Hayden Williams and Missguided – [laughter]. Collection in stores now – [laughs].

Hayden (01:13:40):
So that was really cool as well. The little hashtag, you know?

Lemar (01:13:51):
So, looking forward. What is the, well, ‘is’ there an end goal? There might not be. There might just be a, ‘I’m just going to continue to evolve and see what happens’, or is there like an, ‘I want to go down this path or that path’?

Hayden (01:14:04):
One of the main goals is to have my own label of fashion, like ‘fashion brand’. You know? Like actually having my own high-end label one day, that’s the goal.

Lemar (01:14:14):
Nice. It will happen.

Hayden (01:14:15):
It will happen. It’s just about making the right moves, continuing to make the right moves and making the right connections. We shall see how that unfolds, but I think I’m always active in that. I want to still continue doing collaborations and [keep] building up my name even more. Also I do custom illustrations here and there for people or certain brands or whatever that may you know, if I feel it’s the right thing. I’m very, very specific about what I do and don’t do.

Lemar (01:14:35):
So they just email through to you. If they’re interested they email through.

Hayden (01:14:36):
Yeah, or Instagram.

Lemar (01:14:36):
Or Instagram.

Hayden (01:14:38):
It depends on whoever’s working for the brands. You know? They just, however they want to approach you, they approach you. I definitely want to focus on the fashion and do more fashion design projects. I’d love to design more dolls as well.

Lemar (01:14:50):
Oh yeah.

Hayden (01:14:51):
That would be amazing. And then also, um, I’d love to do a book. I’ve always said that maybe one day it would be cool as well to start up an agency in the future, where I can talent scout or, you know, find other illustrators that maybe, you know, doing something that’s helping other artists. You know, who knows? But that’s something that I think would be cool as well. Yeah, yeah that’s what I want to do.

Lemar (01:15:12):
Well, Hayden, for those of the one or two people out there who don’t know your handles, all your handles for all your networks, Facebook, Twitter…

Hayden (01:15:22):
So Instagram is @hayden_williams and that’s H.A.Y.D.E.N. Um… W.I.L.L.I.A.M.S – [laughs!]

Lemar (01:15:31):
He spelt out the whole thing!

Hayden (01:15:31):
Just to be specific! – [laughter].

Lemar (01:15:34):
@haydne_williams.

Hayden (01:15:34):
But yeah. So, @hayden_williams.

Lemar (01:15:34):
On all of them?

Hayden (01:15:34):
Same on Twitter on Twitter. And then Facebook is ‘Hayden Williams Illustrations’ and tumbler is ‘Hayden Williams Illustrations’ too. I think if you just type in Hayden Williams Illustrations on Google it will just, everything will come up.

Lemar (01:15:47):
Yeah, Brilliant. I’ll put all that stuff in the description of this episode as well.

Hayden (01:15:51):
Yay. Thank you for having me Lemar.

Lemar (01:15:51):
Thanks for doing this, this is really, really good. Do you know what? The journey is even better when you actually hear if from the horse’s mouth so to speak.

Hayden (01:15:59):
Oh thanks!

Lemar (01:15:59):
It’s really good so hopefully it inspire’s someone out there to either get in touch, or along their own journey. Yeah?

Hayden (01:16:06):
Yeah, thank you.

Lemar (01:16:06):
Cool. Sweet!

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