Not all hyper-fixations result in a box of forgotten craft materials.
These beautiful and surreal works were created by Hal Hadzeriga. Hal is a fellow member of our ADHD community and, like so many of us, gravitates towards creative outlets. Hal grew up in Colorado—he later moved to Oklahoma—where the state’s scenic views inspired him. With time, he learned to appreciate the beauty in everything.
“What inspires me is the beautiful way things form, change, and decompose,” Hal explained, continuing that, “this was spurred on mostly by how tree bark grows.”
What sets Hal apart from other artists is his dedication. He shows us that, with patience, practice and passion, you can turn your hyper-fixation into more than just a hobby.
“It wasn’t until I learned how my brain worked that I could start working with it."
Research ADHD and learn to work with what you have.
“Remind yourself you are wonderful how you are.”
As part of the ADHD & LGBT community, the traditional Southern Baptist home that Hal grew up in left Hal feeling conflicted for years. It wasn't until he started prioritising his own needs that he began to accept himself. Hal stresses that in order to truly thrive you need to put yourself first.
“Don’t hold yourself to ridiculous amounts of pressure, 5 minutes of practicing lines or shapes is far better than becoming overwhelmed with unrealistic goals and failing to start.”
Give yourself reasonable goals. It’s easy to overshoot and pile on unnecessary stress, or become too overwhelmed by the task at hand to start your project. Hal manages these challenges by dedicating manageable time frames to practice his art , because even 5 minute bursts of productivity add up over time.
“There is a lesson in everything.”
Forgive your mistakes and keep moving forward. Hal stresses the importance of learning to accept yourself as you are, making the most of your strengths, and forgiving yourself for your faults.
If you’d like to read more about Hal, please see the full interview below:
When did you first become interested in art and why?
I always had a notebook around. I’d take notes and draw about everything I was interested in. My Argentine grandmother was a painter, she would sit my cousins and I down to paint things like songbirds and peacocks under her instruction. She always had a stack of paper out and pencils out for us all to draw on. I would doodle on all of my school-notes, sometimes so much I would get docked points. Outside of time spent with my grandmother I was discouraged from pursuing art, and instead redirected to music and science. It wasn’t until college I started taking art seriously.
What inspires you? Has it changed over time?
What inspires me is the beautiful way things form, change, and decompose, this spurred on mostly by how tree bark grows. I notice it in everything now, clouds, fungus, muscles and feeling the tension and release of how it feels to dance. Clowns, chaos magick, tarot, and horror movies are also a heavy inspiration for my art. Growing up I was always interested in things like dragons, animals, and dinosaurs and still to this day one of my most favourite places to be is in a museum where I can study them.
How did you grow from novice to your current skill level?
A sequence of positive events encouraged me to pursue my interests, allowing me to finally breathe. I swapped my art elective to a major thanks to my professor Jack Titus, who made me realise I had potential. He taught me drawing was much like sport, that I could build up my skills with specific exercises, that my “God-given-skill” was something I could practice and improve. I learned that art was a way to express yourself. Jack and other professors helped build up my confidence, allowing me to find more of myself as an LGBT+ person. In Argentina I was deeply inspired by the beautiful landscapes and architecture, particularly the crazy ways trees move there, their roots bunching up to avoid becoming waterlogged from the heavy rainfall.
Argentina taught me how to take care of myself, how to be alone. I’ve faced a number of hardships, I’ve battled depression and anxiety which, the confidence I've built from my art has helped greatly . More recently it was an inspiring art trade with dyehilism that I did that unlocked a new level of creativity for me, the collaboration helps me remember my goals. It’s amazing how much healthy confidence impacts your livelihood.
What are some successes and hardships you faced along the way?
I think graduating college (The Residencia Corazón) and being able to have a solo show in Argentina were probably my most flashy accomplishments, I feel very privileged to have had these opportunities, I’m so extremely grateful for all of the help I had to accomplish my goals..
As for hardships I think the biggest one was my own self-worth. I grew up in a Baptist home in the south while being heavily closeted. It wasn’t until I decided to prioritize myself and my own happiness that I was able to remove negative influences from my life and be happy with myself. ADHD is also of course a continuous hardship that I have to deal with, I’m a notorious job hopper and I deal with severe social anxiety; however, I am getting a lot stronger in both categories.
What helped/hindered you reaching your creative goals?
What helped the most is surrounding myself with people that care about me and my opinions. I think discovering yourself is important, but so is being in an environment where you don’t fear being yourself. My newfound confidence has helped me stay dedicated far better than the perfectionist attitude I once had. Learning to trust my own experiences has also been helpful. I've started experimenting with colors, shapes and how they relate to my emotions. Allowing myself to be as silly or crazy as I feel on the inside also helps me channel my creativity.
What hindered me the most was the guilt and the perfectionism that was cultivated in my youth. I felt I had to sacrifice my own happiness to satisfy my family. . I ended up choosing myself. It took time to replace the harsh, criticizing voices in my head with encouraging ones, to embrace my big ADHD emotions and express them in art. I still struggle with time management and putting myself out there, both of which I am working on.
How do you feel your ADHD has impacted your journey, your interests and creativity?
I feel ADHD is the main driver for my journey, interests, and creativity. I feel my life is sporadic, clown like, and a lot of things took a lot of time to become in focus for me. I feel very behind in maturity and classic life goals, but I also feel that because of all those winding paths I took , I am privy to a unique perspective and skillset. Letting go of traditional ideas of success has helped me pursue my own ideals.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my growth in accepting myself for who I am despite the negative influences. From being less focused on others' opinions and for every brave social action I take, even if it blows up in my face. They’re my mistakes and choices now, and by god if I am going to be a clown I might as well be good at it.
What are your future plans?
I’d like to turn my passion into a career, one that allows me to travel and matches up with my ADHD circadian rhythm. I'm currently building a shop for my art, experimenting with enamel candle holders and printed apparel. I've considered becoming an art therapist, tattoo artist and even a taxidermist, who knows which path I’ll end up taking, perhaps eventually all three!.
Any advice you have for aspiring ADHD artists or ADHD individuals in general?
I advise everyone with ADHD to research more about it. Whether it be through youtube videos, online support groups or therapy. It wasn’t until I learned how my brain worked that I could start working with it. Develop a personal mantra, try to tell yourself that actually, you are wonderful how you are.
Hal's recommendations for artists:
Don’t hold yourself to ridiculous amounts of pressure, 5 minutes of practicing lines or shapes is far better than becoming overwhelmed with unrealistic goals and failing to start. If you forget to practice or don’t have the mental stamina that day, that’s okay too, there is a lesson in everything.
The website Line of Action for improving drawing forms and figures more efficiently and the following books:
"I want to say thank everyone that encouraged and supported me, who helped me develop my art in ways I couldn’t imagine and especially those who accepted me for who I am. You will all hold a special place in my heart forever."
You can find Hals’ art on Instagram, Facebook, Kofi and his new online store
For commissions and collaboration you can contact Hal at firstname.lastname@example.org
Every like, share, follow, and purchase helps Hal reach his goals.