Good morning every one. We are glad you could join us today for another edition of our Artist Spotlight!! For those of you who’ve been following our journey thus far, today’s guest is no stranger to you. But for those who are new to this blog and this website, meet Layes Hussain, a.k.a Layes Art.
Layes is one of the very first artist we approached in 2014 when we decided to move full steam ahead with implementing our vision to help you, our audience, Discover, Admire and Collect works of art from super talented emerging artists.
We were fortunate enough to get some time on Layes’ busy schedule to pepper him with some questions about his art, his career and his upcoming projects.
YH Gallery: Layes, you are an incredibly talented artist, and anyone who follows you on Instagram can easily tell that you enjoy what you do. So, our first question for you is, what made you become an artist?
Layes: I get that question a lot. That’s such an interesting question. The truth is, art chose me. I mean, I think art made me, because without art I don’t know what I’d be doing or what career I’d be in. Pretty much as a kid, I’d doodle but whenever I saw other people paint I’d be fascinated. I would say that deep down inside, seeing other artist paint sparked a fire inside of me. Also, in my late twenties, I didn’t want to live my life doing the typical thing of going, out, hanging out, and working. I wanted to be productive. I want 30-40 years from now, if a friend bumps into me and asks what have you accomplished in the last 20 years, I want to say something like I have twenty thousand people who own my artwork. That motivates me. I don’t want to be another person doing the regular 9 to 5. I want to be creative. I want to create for the people.
I use to work as an art teacher, and that 9-5 was hard, so when I was laid off, I took this art thing to the next level. I paint every day and every night now. First thing I do every day before I get a cup of coffee is to clean my brushes and get ready to paint for the day. I go to bed at 4-5 in the morning, wake up at 10 and do it all over again. I don’t think there’s anything else I would want to do for the rest of my life. I can see my self painting until I’m ninety – ninety five.
YH: That is quite impressive. It sounds like it is a passion, and you’ve found your passion.
Layes: It definitely is. Not a lot of people can say that they’ve lived their passion and are able to make a decent living from it. Listen, I’m not concerned about being a famous artist exhibiting in galleries in New York and Los Angeles. I’m not looking for that. I just want to paint and be comfortable in my life. Stress free. That’s what I appreciate the most about being an artist.
YH: That’s very interesting. You actually got into the next question we had for you. What is the most rewarding part of being an artist?
Layes: The most rewarding part of being an artist for me is the joy and healing I can bring to families through my work. When people receive the portraits of their loved ones that I’ve done that’s priceless to me. I can provide custom portraits at an affordable price, something the middle class, the every day person can afford. I know plenty of artists who charge $5,000 to $10,000 for portraits, and the every day person can’t afford this. For me, being one of the few artists who can provide affordable original hand made paintings at a decent price is rewarding. I’ve had instances when a customer has reached out and told me that they don’t have a lot of money, but they’d love to get their mother a portrait of their grandmother who recently passed. I was able to work with them. That’s just one part. The other rewarding aspect of being an artist, is the freedom.
I call myself a working artist. Side note, I hate the term struggling artist. I mean, there are plenty of struggling accountants, teachers and lawyers. I know lots of people making well over $80,000 and still live in their parents basement.
YH: That is very true. There are plenty of struggling professionals out there, especially after the last recession.
Layes: I know, but I digress. Back to your question - the most priceless thing for me as a working artist is the freedom. I can do whatever I want, wherever I want, and anytime I want. If I so choose, I can bust my tail making 15 paintings over the next 3 to 4 days, and then take the rest of the week off, relaxing or working on my fitness. Not that I’d do that. I enjoy working. Now I am starting to travel and have booked a few trips in the coming months. To me that freedom is wonderful.
YH: You sound like an entrepreneur. You are your own boss, and that sounds pretty awesome.
Layes: Yes, I have the luxury of turning away work if I so choose to. I don’t have a boss to report to, or anyone telling me how to spend my time, and that is an incredible feeling.
YH: That’s great. Sounds like every body’s dream. So, what does a typical day look like for you?
Layes: My typical day starts with me feeding my birds. I clean my brushes, get my coffee from Dunkin Donut, and answer emails and texts. I get a lot of inquiries through, email, text and Instagram and I make sure to answer them all. Once that’s done, I work on outstanding projects, go to the art store for supplies if I need to, work out, cook, then go back to painting. I multitask. My sessions are broken up. The only time I am able to paint for longer sessions is from the hours of 10 pm to 3 am. That’s the most peaceful time for me. This also allows me to live my life. There was a time when I lived as a hermit. But now, I live my life, paint, work out, and repeat. I structure my painting sessions so that I can enjoy my life.
YH: Seems like you’ve figured out this whole artist thing. Our next question then is, what advice would you give to a young person who wants to be an artist or an up and coming artist?
Layes: Keep practicing. You have artist who do it for a hobby, and you have artist who make this their living. To become successful, just like in any other profession, you have to sacrifice. I sacrificed my social life for 2 – 3 years to build a brand and to practice. I’ll tell all young artist, to be prepared for the sacrifice, and to keep on painting. Just because you finished one painting, don’t stop. Don’t do the whole stereotypical thing of waiting for inspiration. Keep practicing. Copy other people’s paintings, work on your techniques, Google ideas, change it around, and try different things. For example, I spent almost $5,000 on a graphic design course. It didn’t work out for me. Waste of time right? Well, guess what? I can say I tried it. For the rest of my life, I can say I tried it. I won’t ever have to regret it. I even spent $10,000 on photography equipment all in an attempt to improve my photographer. I’d have to say, I don’t use it all as much as I’d like to, because I don’t honestly have time. But I have the equipment, and I can practice whenever I want to. Try new things, take risks, and invest in your art work. Take the time, and give your paintings away. Give it away to friends, and family, that’s one way I built my branding. One year, I painted 300 paintings, and couldn’t sell, so a friend advised me to go online and give them away. I ended up selling paintings that took me three to five days to create for $50 – $60, but that was necessary. It took me time to build my base. Figure out what you want to do, and keep on doing it. Talk to other artists. Reach out and network. There will be some set backs, but keep on going. I remember one time I went to the Metropolitan museum, and I saw an artist selling some of his works in front of the museum. I went up to him, introduced myself and asked him how he managed to get a permit to sell in front of the museum. He completely ignored me. I took me a while to realize that he didn’t want to share his secrets. That’s really messed up, but there are people like that. Don’t be discouraged because there are others out there who are willing to work with you and help you grow.
YH: Wow, that’s a crazy story. Ok, so what can we expect to see from you in the coming future?
Layes: [Chuckles]. A lot of naughty pictures. Just kidding. I’m doing a series called “what if things were different?” That’s all I can say about it. It’s going to be interesting. We will switch a few things around. I plan on doing a solo show that would be quite risqué and get people talking.
Layes: I know. Sex really sells. I have a beautiful Martin Luther piece that has been sitting in my studio for the past couple of years. This man changed the world, but no one wants his portrait, but everything I switch things up and paint something R rated, it flies of the shelves. Sometimes you just have to give the people what they want.
YH: Well, they say the customer is always right. Thank you Layes for your time. We hope our readers enjoy this conversation as much as we did.
Images are courtesy of Layes's Instagram page - @layes_art.
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