We say it as an expression for just about everything. You got the job offer you were hoping for? What is life! You’re feeling down over a misfortune? What even is life?
Artist Josh Hailey says life is creating something.
Josh Hailey is an active artist with a particular fire in his heart for Art Nouveau and Art Deco. His laid back nature fits in perfectly with the go with the flow culture of New Orleans.
I sat down with the multimedia artist in his cozy and quirky art loft in the heart of the Bywater. We chatted about life, love and purpose while he introduced me to the musical goodness that is Ryan Adams’ cover of 1989.
GL: Why’d you end up in New Orleans?
JH: I’ve been all over the country and if there’s anywhere I was going to live in this country it’s here. New Orleans fascinates me. It’s my favorite place. It’s close to home (Jackson, MS) and the people are amazing. I can make a living as an artist, which is huge for me. I love the people, culture, food, music and celebrations for no damn reason. It’s everything I love in life and I’m proud and happy to be here. It’s such a lovely place.
GL: What are you working on right now?
JH: I’m kind of a crazy artist. I make a lot of art but I’m really focusing on putting the bow on this 4-year project so I can put it out there and hopefully everyone else can enjoy it. I hit the road in 2012 for PHOTAMERICA and am still in the finishing phases.
GL: What exactly does PHOTAMERICA consist of?
JH: I traveled the country for two years and made a fine art video for every state. I went to 30 states in 2012 and 26 states in 2013. Each day I interviewed three Americans on four topics: community, national pride, advice they’d give youth and what they’d do to make the world a better place. It’s all of my passions combined into one (art, photography, tourism, documentaries, fine art films, music).
GL: What inspired you to travel the country, photographing it and interviewing the people you encountered along the way?
JH: Love and loss. I met an English documentary filmmaker. We had this love affair from London to Los Angeles, where I was living at the time. She was traveling around the US doing a personal documentary on loss. I didn’t want to be in California anymore but I didn’t know where I wanted to go so I decided to take on my own traveling project. I wanted to explore and to know what it is to know my own country.
GL: What did you find out through all of your interviews and time on the road?
JH: People have state pride. They have cultures and values they hold onto but I don’t think it’s the traditional American flag pride this country was established on. I think people make the place anywhere you go. Community is a big deal to me. I went places I didn’t think would be noteworthy but I met awesome people there. All you need in life is good people looking after each other.
GL: How is photography fulfilling for you?
JH: I like waking up and doing something different every day. Everybody needs a picture of something at some point so it’s cool to get to collaborate with new people on projects they’re passionate about.
I think the cool thing about being an artist is actually a difficult thing to do. It’s living your own dream and making it a reality. That’s not just for the arts; that’s for everything. I think people should do that more. Society says to go to college and get a job but life’s not that simple. Turn on a light that goes outside of the box. You have to be active, creative, do a lot of things and be a good person. You need a community.
It would be awesome if for education purposes people would go into the Peace Corps after high school. It would be an opportunity to get in the third world and see what it’s like and then come back here and join AmeriCorps. Six months there, six months here and we would have the most well-rounded humans.
The way I met Ashley Porter through photography is actually a funny story. I messaged her on Instagram because I thought her jewelry was cool. We said we’d hang out sometime and then that night, I met her while we were both in costume at the Civic Theatre for Krewe du Vieux. She told me she was a jewelry designer and I told her I was an artist. We shortly figured out we were the ones messaging via Instagram earlier that day. We’ve been collaborating ever since.
GL: That is seriously a scene from a movie.
JH: I’ve had some pretty crazy moments. I was in Thailand once and this guy came up to me and asked if I was Corey Taylor from Slipknot. I told him, “I’m not but if it gives you brownie points with your friends you can say I am.” They started treating us like royalty. He told me to just go with it. They picked us up in a limo and took us about 45 minutes away from our hotel to a private concert. We were supposed to be leaving the next morning on a flight. I had to tell them I couldn’t play because ‘the band and I were in a fight.’ I got up there and sang Oasis with about 40 people singing along. It was hilarious.
Josh Hailey is full of hilarious stories and a cool perspective on life. What I learned through Josh is that sometimes life can feel cyclical and unfulfilling but if you create your life around your passions rather than what the world expects of you, life can be simply enjoyable. If you don’t know what your passions are, start exploring through hobbies. Hailey says, “Just do good things and it comes back to you so nicely.” Contact Josh Hailey for a collaborative photo shoot or go say hey at the Frenchmen Art Market and you’ll take away more than just incredible photos.
Nothing can compare to the satisfaction and confidence that comes from doing exactly what you were created to do. Follow your heart and stay true to the gifts that have been placed on your life and you’ll end up right where you’re supposed to be.
Love & Lyons,