The first meet up in London was a big one, I’ve been following this artist on Instagram for a while (like a million others) and I couldn’t believe it he was holding my suitcase while walking in London.
Emailing Hayden Williams to invite him for the Traveling Sketchbook project was exciting. I wrote the email and waited a bit before sending with my finger hanging above the button. After a hundred checks on mistakes, was I ready to do this? Yes, I did it. ‘If he says yes, I am throwing a party.’, I said to my colleague. Believe it or not, I didn’t, he said yes! Just a cool ‘Hi Carmen, thanks for getting back to me. Are you able to do Thursday the 20th? Kind regards, Hayden’ made me jump in the air. With a blush on my cheeks I continued my day.
Hayden draws since he was 3 years old. He studied fashion design at Barking & Dagenham and Ravensbourne University. He shared his work on social media and when Rihanna retweeted his drawing, he became big. Beyoncé shared his work on Instagram and many other celebrities are owners of a piece made by this talented illustrator. Sponsored by a big art supplies brand Winsor & Newton he also partnered with Disney, Naomi Campbell, Vogue, Google and many more. On his Instagram account with 1,2 million followers, he shares his typical fashion illustrations often made with alcohol markers.
STARBUCKS, OR NOT?
I just arrived at the Liverpool Street Station in London, after my flight from the Netherlands. With my hand luggage I went to the Starbucks and sat down. It was the Starbucks next to WH Smiths as he said, so it must be here. Right? Or did he use it as a referring point? I went back outside and waited in front of the stores. While waiting I thought: ‘What if this is a catfish? Maybe someone is fooling me?’ But then a well dressed guy with big glasses and a smile as big as the glasses came walking towards me. ‘Are you Carmen?’
It really was him! And he picked up my suitcase and we walked towards a place next to the station. He asked how my flight was and stuff but I was only thinking: ‘good that I didn’t stay in that Starbucks!’. We entered a fancy hotel and his sister was sitting at a table. This hotel was definitely NOT a Starbucks and I felt a bit under-dressed in my jeans with jacket and sweaty armpits after a bit of traveling. But Hayden and Serena made me feel welcome and all right.
YOU ARE LUCKY
Both Hayden and his sister were very lovely and chatty. Hayden told me about his history: going to a fashion school and doing a university afterwards. He didn’t finish this last one. It was a hard job to balance his uni works and the things he made for himself as orders as a result of social media. Uni just felt a bit like college but with more work. So he quit. And where his family always supported him, at this point they were wondering ‘Hayden, are you sure?’. But he was. And how he said: ‘The rest is history’.
Hayden didn’t bring his supplies, but luckily I had my traveling kit with me, so he used my stuff. He just did his thing and started sketching, while I started on my drawing as well. Serena, his sister, enjoyed her view and made sure I knew how special this was. Hayden normally wouldn’t join in these projects but he must have been very engaged with it to say yes. And not only for him sitting next to me, I was lucky. It turned out that he also doesn’t really draw where other people are with him. Except for his family.
CINDERELLA AND HER DRESS
His family already figured out that Hayden could draw when he was 3 years old. His mom saw him doing something on paper and would be like ‘What are you doing?!’ and would be totally flabbergasted by the work he made.
They also told me that his favorite was watching Disney movies and pausing the video to draw the scene. Especially Cinderella was stopped a lot, so much that it broke at a certain moment. At the point the fairy transformed her dress into a gorgeous ball gown, little Hayden would stop it and start drawing. Maybe his family didn’t like it at that moment. But I think a lot of people are glad he did it, because his works are now loved by many.
FROM DISNEY TO FASHION
Hayden himself thought he would work for Disney in the future. But he told me it was in a waiting room at the doctor that he saw a fashion magazine that made him more interested in fashion. He started to do some self study on it and he ended up working with some great fashion magazines himself.
By posting stuff on social media, a lot of people have opinions they will share, whether you want it or not. Hayden gets unfriendly messages as well, but also messages to ask for inspiration: people asking whether they should follow their dream. As you can conclude from the things above, he would like everyone to follow their dreams! Do what you want and be consistent. He likes to create the things he makes and he only does that because he wants to. His ladies are often thin. The reason he created ‘curvy series’ is not because of the people complaining about thin girls, but because he wants to.
Does Hayden still have dreams? Yes he does. He would like to create a clothing line for women and later also men.
A NICE GUY
Now he often is surrounded by celebrities and his schedule is pretty full. But he said that if you hang out with celebrities you find out they are just human beings too. And there where Hayden is a bit of a celebrity for me as well, he turned out to be a fine guy and a normal person too. So chill and happy he was. And he told me that he would be happy to come over to The Netherlands for the Traveling Sketchbook exhibition and to stay in touch. He gave me a hug and thanked me for the drawing. His sister hugged me too and said that she found it very inspiring. Well, I had to thank them, because it was quite a beautiful experience!
Hayden’s work, just like the other works in the Traveling Sketchbook, will not be shown completely. But here you can see a part. You will be able to see the full creation during the Traveling Sketchbook exhibition. But that will take place after I had some more travels in the search for more of these inspiring stories.