Artist of the Month: Hayley Roberts Creates Enchanting Photographs

Stemming from Brisbane, Hayley Roberts is a photographer who creates whimsical artworks that combine fantasy and reality.

Hayley Roberts - The Endless Delight of Delirium, crowdink.com, crowdink.com.au, crowd ink, crowdink
The Endless Delight of Delirium – a conceptual fine art photography print by Hayley Roberts

Through using trick photography and Photoshop, Hayley creates prints that are intended to excite the wanderers of the world, and play to everyone’s inherent fantastical imagination. We got the chance to chat to Hayley and find out a few pining questions we had about her work.

What first inspired you to take up photography?

For most of my life I didn’t believe I was a creative person. I can’t draw or paint or play an instrument, and not for lack of trying. I dabbled in photography in high school because it was the one art form I could actually do and once digital photography made it affordable I started to get serious about it. As it turns out, I am creative! I just needed to find the right tool. 

Siren's Sorrow by Hayley Roberts, crowdink.com, crowdink.com.au, crowdink, crowd ink
Siren’s Sorrow – a conceptual fine art photography print by Hayley Roberts

Did you take up other types of photography/Photoshop/art before you settled on this method?

Like most newbie photographers I photographed every flower, every sunset, every event in sight to master my craft but I’ve always been most drawn to travel, landscape and wildlife which has given me a lot of material to work with in creating my composite art. As well as making art I also write a travel photography blog so that particular interest has never really gone away.

Dance of the Jacarandas by Hayley Roberts, crowdink.com, crowdink.com.au, crowd ink, crowdink
Dance of the Jacarandas – a conceptual fine art photography print by Hayley Roberts

Why do you feel so drawn elements of fantasy and fairy tales in your work?

In recent years I’ve worked in bookshops and libraries because I love to be surrounded by stories, and I prefer to read the kinds of stories where magic seeps into the real world. We face so many challenges in life that sometimes I wish those challenges would involve witches or time travel or levitation just to keep it interesting. Ultimately I just wish the world was a little more fantastical and I use my art to create these kinds of scenarios as a way for people to escape to a more interesting place where anything could happen.

Rosewater by Hayley Roberts, crowdink.com, crowdink.com.au, crowd ink, crowdink
Rosewater – a conceptual fine art photography print by Hayley Roberts

Do you think you have a certain demographic/audience? If so, who?

I’m the type of person who is always thrilled to see a rainbow, a snow capped mountain or a wild animal. I really appreciate the beauty of the natural world because that’s the true magic. This comes across in my art and so I hope it appeals to people who feel the same way; the dreamers, the nature lovers and the ones who perhaps see themselves as being a bit different.

Where do you get most of your inspiration from?

There’s no one specific place. Usually I start by choosing a technique I want to explore or a photo I want to use and then brainstorm around it while looking at different reference materials for ideas. I create intuitively so I think there’s lots of things whirling around in my subconscious that I’m not necessarily aware of so I just try to keep it fed and hope it spits out something interesting.

The Idea by Hayley Roberts, crowdink.com, crowdink.com.au, crowd ink, crowdink
The Idea by Hayley Roberts

Your pieces usually have quite a few layers and steps. What is your process like? Do you come up with a concept first and go from there?

Generally I try to come up with a concept first that I’ll sketch (badly) to make sure I photograph all the pieces I need to realise it. Once in Photoshop I start experimenting with different photos and techniques and that’s when my images have a tendency to take on a life of their own.

Would you say most of your work comes from themes/concepts that come from personal experiences?

Whenever I complete a piece I usually have to work backwards to try and figure out what made me create it; that’s actually the hardest part of creating for me, trying to understand why. But after a lot of digging and soul searching it always becomes apparent that some element of my psyche has inspired the work. It mostly comes down to me expressing the world the way I wish it was.

Metamorphosis by Hayley Roberts, crowdink.com, crowdink.com.au, crowd ink, crowdink
Metamorphosis – a conceptual fine art photography print by Hayley Roberts

In the description of your piece ‘Metamorphosis’, you describe how you gave yourself one year to prove you could be an artist. What motivated you to give yourself a deadline and how do you think it worked?

When I launched my business I was standing at a crossroads of whether to follow my dreams or to knuckle down and get serious about life. I’ve never been good at following rules so I decided to take the dream path but I gave it a deadline to keep it in check. At the end of the first year I’d learnt so many invaluable skills and had such a positive response to my art that I was feeling happier than ever before, so I decided to continue with it for as long as life allows.

Laptop & camera for LR by Hayley Roberts, crowdink.com, crowdink.com.au, crowd ink, crowdink
Laptop & camera for LR by Hayley Roberts

What achievement have you been most proud of during your time as an artist?

I don’t want to take any of this for granted so I am genuinely honoured and proud every time someone values my work. Getting to do something I love and receiving validation and financial reward for it is a dream come true. My ultimate goal was always to create a series that combines Australian landscapes and story and I’m actually starting to see that come together faster than I thought so I’m really excited about the future. Stay tuned!

The Woods Welcome by Hayley Roberts, crowdink.com, crowdink.com.au, crowdink, crowd ink
The Woods Welcome – a conceptual fine art photography print by Hayley Roberts

Who are some of your favourite artists, including writers (considering your passion for stories and fairytales)?

My favourite artists are Charles Blackman, Joe Sorren, Nicoletta Ceccoli, Banksy, and more photographers than I can name. My favourite authors are Shaun Tan, Neil Gaiman, Charles De Lint, Jaclyn Moriarty, Mikhail Bulgakov and G. K. Chesterton and my favourite directors (also a kind of storyteller!) Tim Burton, Michel Gondry, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Bryan Fuller.

Hayley Roberts, crowdink.com, crowdink.com.au, crowd ink, crowdink
Hayley Roberts

To see more of Hayley’s enchanting prints, head to her bio on Art Lovers Australia, and get lost in the magic of her photos.

Hayley Roberts

Throughout her life Hayley has rarely been without a camera in her hands. Using trick photography and Photoshop manipulation she creates illusions that blend fantasy into the every day. Through the use of costumes, props and posing her conceptual self-portraits aim to tell imaginative stories that could easily have leaked from the pages of fairy tales. Magical realism is at the heart of her images which seek to thrill, inspire and provide an escape from reality, helping people recapture the wonder they felt hearing stories as a child. On her website she runs the Exposing Illusions project where she studies and emulates a different creative photography technique in her work, while teaching and inspiring others to do the same. She also writes a travel blog highlighting tourist destinations and showcasing her travel photography to provoke wanderlust.

Connect with Hayley here.