Hayley Barry: An Artist by Design


Hayley Barry will tell you herself that she’s a very interesting person. She’s a self-made business owner, cancer survivor, and the founder of the Utah Valley Lettering Club. She decorated 15-foot-tall books for the Love Letters Museum. She designed posters for the Rooftop Concert series. And she even painted a mural inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the scene of the Parkland shooting, to make a more welcoming environment for returning teachers and students.

Barry, a senior in the Art & Design program at UVU, always knew she wanted to be an illustrator. Growing up she was constantly drawing and practicing hand-lettering. She studied the handwritten titles in vintage magazines, collected antique signage, and doodled her way through reams of copy paper. Luckily, members of her family were working as professional full-time designers. Their example proved that although being an artist was hard, it was not impossible.

“I meet people who say, ‘I really like art, but you can’t do that as a job,’” Barry says. “That was always funny to me. You can. It’s a lot of work. And it’s a different kind of work. But I always knew it was something you really could do.”

Hard work is a constant theme throughout Barry’s life. When she was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma at the age of 14, her doctors warned about the restrictions that would happen during her treatment.

“The doctors were like, ‘You’re not going to be able to go to school. You’re not going to be able to have a job. You’ll have to stay home all the time.’” Barry says. “I told them, ‘I’m not doing that.’ I never missed a single day of school when I had cancer. Never once.”

Her tenacity led to success. Her positive attitude prevails although, after several rounds of treatment, the cancer returned.

“I still have it. It’s something I’ve accepted. I realized it’s something I’m probably going to have to deal with for my whole life,” Barry says.

Not wanting to be defined by her diagnosis, Barry made a point of taking control of her life and making the most of it. She set her sights on becoming an artist and began crafting her own opportunities.

“I started emailing anyone I thought I could work for. I would randomly email different restaurants and businesses and say, ‘Hey, have you ever thought of putting a mural on your wall? Or doing this or that?’ And 90% of the time they’d say no, but everyone once in a while I’d get someone who would say yes.”

Barry got another job through a connection she made in one of her art classes.

“UVU has a class called the Art Lecture Series. Every Thursday a different artist presents,” Barry says. “Melissa Esplin, the calligrapher, came. I loved her presentation! While she was speaking, I hand-lettered her a thank-you card. I went up to her afterwards and said, ‘Thank you so much. That was so awesome. Here you go.’’”

When Barry was looking for a job a few years later, she emailed Esplin and reminded her of her handmade thank-you card. Esplin remarked that she kept the card on display and instantly hired Barry as a personal assistant. As she worked professionally, Barry made a point of incorporating everything she was learning in her classes.


Hayley Barry, a Utah Valley University Art and Design student


“I was so grateful for school. Even though I was working full time in what I wanted to be doing, every single semester I would learn something in my classes that I could immediately apply to my career. That was kind of a crazy way to do it. A lot of people learn everything first and then apply it, but I did all at the same time. That’s how it’s been my entire time at UVU.”

While some students made a point of separating their personal, professional, and school life, Barry intentionally brought them all together. 

“I decided early on I wanted to make every one of my assignments something I could make money off of. For instance, I was in a design class once where we had to design a band poster. I got on Instagram and said, ‘Hey, I have to design a poster for school. If you have a band, contact me. I’ll give you 50% off your poster.’” Barry says. “I ended up getting paid to do this school project and it was hung up all over town.”

Keen-eyed viewers will notice even more of Barry’s work around campus and throughout Utah County this year. She’s the creative designer behind the A Place For You campaign — a movement to spread the word that everyone is accepted at UVU. 

“I love UVU. I tell everyone that it’s awesome here. Some of my friends graduated from other schools and didn’t start making art until they were Juniors. That’s crazy to me.”

Barry credits her success to her work ethic and engaging in her coursework. She’s set to graduate in the spring of 2020, and she has advice to pass on to current students.

“The purpose of school is to help you with your life. Take classes that are going to benefit your life. Really try to make sure the things you’re learning are applicable to the real world. And get a job while you’re still in school.”