AG: I've noticed that the native environment of an artist often leaves the strongest visual imprint. Where did you grow up and how do you see this primary environment affecting your work?
Hines: I grew up in Queens, New York. Of course you know New York is a mecca for art and culture. Having access to places like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum, Guggenheim and N.Y Moma was invaluable to my education in art. Lets not forget all the galleries uptown, in the village and Soho. I am a self taught artist but growing up in New York I was never for lack of inspiration, influence or education.
AG: How did you first come to doing art? Was it ever a hobby or part-time passion before you went full-time?
Some of his older work
Hines: I have done art for as long as I can remember. I remember drawing in kindergarten. I remember teachers trying to force me to use crayons which even as a child I thought was messy. I was always drawing, first figures, nudes and eventually surrealism. Though I was obsessed with drawing I definitely thought of it, not so much as a hobby, but as something very personal. For me it would be a slow progression from art being private, to showing publicly and eventually becoming a full time artist.
AG: What other jobs have you done?
Hines:My father was not too keen on my going to an art high school despite the fact that I was always drawing and showed a lot of talent. So I basically followed a more academic route. I had many jobs...selling hamburgers, photocopier supplies, I even had jobs doing what was then called phototypsetting and paste-up mechanicals. That was in the days before personal computers. Eventually I got a degree in computer programming and worked for many years as a computer operator.
AG: When did you commit to doing art full-time?
One of Hines' ethereal abstracts
Hines: I was living in Atlanta Georgia and had artist friends who were full-time artists who continually urged me to quit my day job. I was very intimidated to make the leap but they were very persuasive. In 2001 just before 911, I was told I was being laid off at the end of the month. I was really tired of working for someone else so I took it as a sign and never looked for a new job. Instead I simply focused on trying to make a living from my artwork.
AG: Many people have described the move to being a full-time artist as a "leap of faith". How did this transition affect you?
Another painting by Hines
Hines: For me I think it was more of a leap of passion fueled by the support of my artist friends. It was not easy in the beginning. I suddenly had time to focus on my artwork but I soon realized that I knew nothing about the business and marketing of being a full time artist. I wasn't starving but there were times I survived with the help of some financial assistance from my family. I got part-time jobs at art stores until eventually I was able to support myself solely from my art income.
AG: Did your family support you in your artistic passion? How has the support, or lack thereof, affected your artistic direction?
Hines: I was the first artist in my family and looking back, my mother and father were not overwhelmingly supportive of me choosing art as a profession. I was crushed when my father refused to let me attend Art & Design High School in Manhattan. I think for them art was more of a hobby than an occupation. My older brother, on the other hand, was the first one to push me to exhibit my work and join a local art group. This eventually lead to my first art show, an outdoor group exhibition with The Flushing Art League. The rest is as they say, history.
AG: Describe a day in the life of the Artist Hines. What studio hours do you keep and how do you balance other demands in your life?
Hines in the studio
Hines: Being a full time artist is really great. It is a lot of work but I love my job. I get up every morning, spend time with my wife and son, take care of art business on the computer and make whatever phone calls are necessary before heading off to the studio. I usually get to the studio around noon and paint till around five or six before cleaning my brushes and heading back home. Of course my day could also entail buying supplies, visiting museums, galleries and other artists, doing art exhibits, teaching, presenting demonstrations, delivering or shipping art to clients.or galleries. Like I said it is a lot of work.
AG: Art making is intrinsically a domain of much uncertainty. Artists tend to be adventurous people. Have you taken big risks in other areas of your life? Tell me a wild story about yourself!
Hines with his students after a recent workshop
Hines: Artists are adventurous only in the sense of creativity. This notion of uncertainty I think is part of the myth and misconception of what it is to be a contemporary artist. Like every other profession, artists work hard studying, practicing and honing their skills. Being a full time artist is actually not as risky as many people think. It is simply a business like any other business. The better your business skills the better you will fare as a full time artist. You have to learn the business of being an artist. Nowadays it is probably far riskier to get a corporate job where in most circumstances there is little allegiance to workers and little of any job security. As a full time artist I am my own boss and I have no intention of retiring or firing myself. Remember, Picasso is said to have painted right up till the time of his death at age 91.
For more information about the Artist Hines, please visit his web site