Home Is Where The Art Is – Chatting with George Hayles

Tell us about yourself. How did you first get interested in art?

I’m a Machinery Engineer for the Oil and Gas industry. One of the aspects I enjoy is the opportunity to live in different parts of the world. I typically move every 2-3 years, so I have to be somewhat mobile. Wherever I am, I like to collect music, see various performing arts, and play some online games with friends when I have a little spare time. My music collection includes English, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Italian, Croatian, and a little bit of Thai! I like action and comedy movies, but these days I work offshore; so keeping up with movies involves asking my friends what they recommend, and making a note to watch them during my off days. I got my interest in art from seeing the various decorations hotels have on my many business trips. I was (and still am to a degree) undecided on which format I liked most – oils, watercolors, photography, sculptures; there are so many options!

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Tell us about the first piece you ever bought and how it kickstarted your collecting streak?

The first art piece I bought was actually glass! I went with friends to a Renaissance Festival during my first time living in Houston in 2002. There’s an artist named Jodi Bove, and she would have regular glassblowing demonstrations there. We decided to see one of her demos, and she guided the crowd gathered, through the process of making a glass vase. Feeling the heat of the kiln, and watching a glowing lump of glass become a decorated vase through Jodi’s techniques was a great sight to see. She had a small shop with her glassblowing area, and among the vases and ornaments, I saw a paperweight, with swirls of purple, goldleaf flecks, and trapped bubbles within. That was the piece I wanted to take home with me, and it’s a part of my collection to this day.

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What is your philosophy on collecting art and how it has evolved over the years?

Originally my art collecting was focused on small glass items, for the ease of moving them from place to place as I changed locations. I looked for vibrant colors and patterns in small packages. As I got more moves under my belt, I expanded into wall art. At first I leaned toward nature and interpretations of it, as well as music to reflect the sounds I enjoy. As my career progressed, my budget expanded, and I started including art from outside the USA, as well as larger pieces. Now I look for art that is related to nature, music, countries I have visited, or even my experiences in my career. The glass art, for example, comes from Texas, Wisconsin, Georgia, and outside the country (Canada and Australia)

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Do you have personal connections to any of the artists whose work you collect? How important is it for you to understand an artist and the inspirations that have influenced his/her artwork?

I wouldn’t say that I have a personal connection to the artists that I have obtained pieces from, but I had the opportunity to meet 2 of the artists. Understanding an artist’s inspiration and motivations does help this novice collector’s decision making when inside a gallery. Most of the prints I have, are an artist’s way of highlighting their city that I visited, such as Charleston, South Carolina’s Cooper River Bridge and Pineapple Fountain.

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Share with us some of the artists that inspire you, and why?

Collecting Jodi’s works over the years have been influential to me in that I believe in noticing the little things around me and in my work. The little details in her glass art always draws me back for more! Recently I started collecting Tan Zi Xi’s works, as I share her feelings about the stumbles one encounters to achieve their goals, as well as the time and effort required to make the journey to success. With the success and frustrations I encounter, I enjoy the path that is my career.

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What are a few of your favorite places to see art in your of Houston, Texas?

After living in Canada, Europe, and Asia, I called Houston home again starting June this year. I usually go to the Museum District to see various art collections. Of the museums, my favorite would be The Museum of Fine Arts. I can enjoy art from various parts of the world, including Middle Eastern works I have not seen before. Houston also offers various festivals where local and national artists can showcase their works. Houston International Festival and Bayou City Art Festival come to mind. In other countries my career takes me to live, the area museums are a great starting point for learning options to view, and potentially purchase art. After my time with the latest project I’m with, who knows where I will call home next!

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Do you have any advice for new collectors?

For any new collector, I would recommend including some time in an upcoming vacation or business trip to look into a local artist or two. It can be a worthwhile compliment to those pictures you took with your camera, and souvenirs you brought home! The various media artists use can be overwhelming at first; research examples online to not only get a feel of which media interests you, but also learn about preservation methods required for certain media (temperature, humidity, even sunlight vs. fluorescent lighting). After the effort that went into starting that collection, ensure you’re able to make it a long-lasting one.


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