Hayley O

Local fashion illustrator and graphic designer Hayley O’Connor has worked with a slew of impressive international brands including Billabong and Collective Hub. Her style echoes urban lifestyles and surf culture with a distinctly feminine quality and is the perfect representation of the Gold Coast’s growing arts scene.

We sat down for a chat with Hayley about her recent tee shirt design for local brand The Undercurrent and how our beautiful beaches influence her work.   

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I moved to the Gold Coast from Melbourne almost three years ago now. I got a job with Billabong as a graphic designer and made the move! I wasn’t sure how long I would be here but fell in love with the place and its beach lifestyle.

What do you love most about our city?
The beaches and all the new cafes and restaurants popping up! I think leaving Melbourne, I was worried about finding good coffee and food but Gold Coast food is really impressive and I’m definitely not missing out. I also love that there’s a real sense of community here. You always bump into someone you know and there’s a fun, friendly vibe.

How is the art you create influenced by the world around you?
I have a lot of references to the tropics and the ocean in my work, which I definitely think is influenced by living here. These things have kind of merged with my love of fashion from growing up in Melbourne.

You illustrated a Broadbeach tee shirt design for local brand The Undercurrent, why did you include the elements you did?
I guess when I think of Broadbeach I think of the nightlife. I wanted to create a retro pin up kind of girl in bathers to represent the beach and sunshine and I included the cocktail glass and playing cards to represent The Star casino. The seal is a reference to one of Broadbeachs’ first hotels on the Coast, Lennons Broadbeach Hotel. The famous seal statue from the Lennons pool now sits outside the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre in a nod to the past.

How would you describe your artistic style?
I would say it’s feminine with an edge. I love drawing beautiful girls surrounded by nature, patterns and tattoos.

You’ve worked with some impressive brands, is there a commercial piece you’ve created that you particularly love?
I think the piece I created for Surfing World Magazine. They have a section of the mag called “The Octopus” and the brief was pretty much do what ever I wanted but just don’t draw an octopus! I liked how weird and fun the brief was and it started me drawing a series of mermaids that are some of my favourite pieces still.

Do you have a style of art you most enjoy creating?
I have two styles of illustration. One is really detailed with pencils and watercolour and the other is a simpler style I create with pens and markers while mixing in typography. I like jumping between the two as my detailed is more serious and my simpler is fun and quirky.

What’s been the journey you’ve taken to get where you are today?
I guess a lot of time drawing for the love of it and hard work over the years had led me to where I am today.

What’s the best piece of life advice you’ve ever been given?
Life’s too short to do something you don’t love.

Being a Gold Coast local, we have to ask your favourites…
Beach: Miami and Greenmount
Café: Bam Bam Bakery
Restaurant: Rick Shores / Etsu
How does your weekend usually look? Pretty much drawing and hanging at the beach!

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