In our VAR conversation series video with student and photographer Haley Hill, we discussed topics ranging from the first time she ever held a camera to her own experiences in a public arts institution. Haley’s own artistic journey reveals one of many routes an artist can take towards a successful career. Here are six things we can take away from Haley’s personal and creative journey and apply to our own lives.

Trust your Intuition

One  value Haley holds close to herself is her intuition. “Intuition is something we practice everyday. It’s something I practice with my work, and it’s something I practice with myself.” When you trust your intuition, especially your creative intuition, more times than not it will be validated and supported by those around you. If you get into the habit of practicing intuition in your daily life, and by extension your creative life, you will find a stronger sense of yourself and your own unique creative voice.

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift” —Albert Einstein

Understand when you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, and allow yourself to do so

Haley tells us that, while New York has a lively art scene, sometimes it can be too overwhelming for her. There are dozens of gallery openings each weekend, and sometimes the pressure to go to so many different events will just make you not want to go out at all. It’s okay to need a break from the city, and don’t be afraid to recognize when you need one. Take a weekend for yourself to visit a relaxing spot, and use the time to replenish your creative and mental energy.

Allow your struggles to become knowledge and growth rather than blockages

When Dr. Rhodes asks Haley about moments she regrets or times when she wishes she received more support, Haley responds that there had been hard situations that she confronted, but doesn’t look back on them with regret. “I wouldn’t change anything, because I’ve gained a lot of knowledge from having to navigate certain difficulties on my own.” Be aware that the challenges and struggles you have faced will bring you wisdom and a better understanding of yourself, and look at these moments as a chance for growth instead of one of hinderance.

Take advantage of the resources and connections you can gain from your school

Haley is currently working for an artist named Mary Mattingly, who is located at Governor’s Island, NY. Mattingly gained a lot of publicity and media attention from a installation called Swale, a floating food forest for New York. Haley was able to intern for Mattingly through her school practicum, an internship that matches students to artists in NYC based on similarity. Know which opportunities you have available to you, especially at your school or within your community. Apply for any position you come across, and reach out to any opportunity that you feel would be a great experience. This way, you can build your network and gain fulfilling artistic experiences that will contribute to your personal and artistic growth.

Do not allow the fear of life after college to take over your experiences, as you are still developing

In the interview, Dr. Rhodes asks Haley what she wants to do with her career after graduating. Haley responds that she has no idea what she wants to do career-wise, but mentions that her dad offered to let her work in his photography studio for a year after graduating. Acknowledging that this is a wonderful opportunity, Haley also reveals that she would like to figure out how to navigate the world as an artist completely on her own. This openness to self-growth, even if it means not taking the secure route, is so important when it comes to following your passion. Sometimes, the greatest successes begin with failure, and the courage to embrace those failures is a deeply valuable trait for artists.

If there is a place in the world where you feel happiest, make time to visit the location multiple times and take a friend or loved one with you

“I really love to be in nature.” Haley tells Dr. Rhodes, after she was asked where she would want to go if she could go anywhere. Knowing yourself and when you work best is crucial to becoming the best artist you can be, and what’s even more important is knowing what will put you in that creative mindset. Though the New York art scene is rich and vibrant, Haley know that it’s “just city,” and while that works for some people, it wouldn’t make her happy. Take a moment to reflect on where you were when you felt most inspired, and what about that location made you feel that way. Whether it was by your favorite hometown lake or walking through your favorite museum exhibit, make the time to revisit those places. Take someone with you, and talk to them about why you love this place so much. Sharing your art with others is important, but sharing your inspiration with people you care about is equally as meaningful.

Haley will be having a private art showing in NYC and we will be sending our VAR fellow out to look at her show in the following week. We can’t wait to get a closer look at a student run art show! You can find her website at haleyrhill.com and her instagram @haleyrhill.

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