We had the good fortune of connecting with Charis Hartley and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Charis, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I realized as a teen what one of my big loves was. What I didn’t realize then was how valuable that discovery would be. When we go through high school and then onto college having to blindly a choose a career or decide what job might suit us can be an incredibly daunting process.

I started creating with hair color and cutting around 13. Hair, pottery and dabbling in acrylic painting became my art outlets.

It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I had the chance to turn art into a career. I was laid off from a job in commercial insurance and took that opportunity to enroll in Cosmetology school.

Once in school, several professors would tell us that our odds of actually becoming a hairstylist were slim to none. It was scary enough leaving a 6 year career where I was guaranteed a growing salary and took real courage to switch gears and allow my passion to rule my head for a change.

During school I incurred debt and learned that I’d need to do many years of apprenticing to get to where I needed to be professionally as a hairstylist.

It took a lot of emotional support from my family and friends to get through those first few years as well as a few remarkable mentors who taught me so much about the science, technique and business know-how for my chosen art.

Being a stylist takes a combination of good business sense, client therapy sessions and a ton of creative skill.

As an artist I kind of threw away all of what I was taught with regards to just technical cutting and coloring and use my senses as an artist. For me, so much of what I do takes communication, vision, design and feel to create something beautiful.

I try to consistently take the client’s idea and elevate it or add to it so it becomes a sort of art collaboration. Sometimes I find my art in the subtle and sometimes it takes shape with a definite edge and visual impact. I love that all my “pieces” have an expiration date and a fluidity. As in life nothing is in a static state and change is the only constant.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am where I am today thanks to my clients. I have established very deep connections with so many of them and have formed bonds that make them forever friends. There is an inexplicable trust that must be created together. As a hairstylist you really aren’t an artist at all without a client as your canvas.

It is not easy to establish yourself as a hairstylist as it takes many years to build a clientele. The work is both physically and mentally challenging but there’s nothing I love more.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Places to go:

Getty Center
Little Tokyo
Huntington Gardens
Echo Mountain
Griffith Park trails
Downtown LA Arts District
Echo Park
The Broad
Malibu Beaches
Norton Simon Museum
Goodwill Hollywood
Union Station
Olvera Street

Guisados Tacos
Echo Park Taco Truck
The Original Katsuya
Ricky’s Tacos
Better Than Sex
Grand Central Market
Ramen Hood
Daikokuya Ramen
Jonathan Gold Best of LA restaurants Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to my friends the Uzzardis who suggested me for this article and who inspire me to continue to grow in my field as they have done in their separate passions and pursuits.

Second, to my beautiful artist and daughter Versailles, who inspires literally everything I do.

Lastly to Nick, Jamie and Lindsey and my parents who met at Harvard and fully supported me in my career as an artist.

Instagram: @hartley.hairartistry

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