POMEROY, Ohio — At 16, when most teens are thinking about what life will be like as a result of the pandemic, or how soon they will be able to get their driver’s license, Halo Rife has other things on her mind.
Her illusions/art work are featured in a soon-to-be released children’s book. She also designs logos for businesses, produces commissioned works, has written a play and comic book, her own book is currently being reviewed by a publisher, and she is a vendor at the Meigs County Farmers Market.
Always drawing and sketching for as long as her parents Sam and Stephanie Rife can remember, Halo began to focus on her art when she was 12.
“I began to spend more time on my art,” Halo said. “And now it is something I do everyday.”
Halo’s talent has caught both local and national attention.
Author Ryan Cowen reached out to her from Los Angeles, Calif. earlier this spring while searching for an illustrator for his children’s book titled “Mr. Moonbeam.” After several attempts working with professional illustrators, he had not found one who could produce pieces that met what he had envisioned.
After seeing her illustrations online, Cowen contacted her about a possible collaboration.
According to Halo’s mother, Cowen told Halo she was the first one to capture what was in his mind. Originally from Middleport, Ohio, Cowen came back for the summer and spent hours with Halo developing the art for the book.
When asked about her first experience working with an author and trying to bring the characters to life, she said she enjoyed the experience and learned a lot.
“I would sketch, show it to him, we would go back and forth, until I got it right. It was a series of doing it over again and again, each time getting closer. I really enjoyed the process.”
The book is scheduled for release in October, and Cowen plans to return to the area for a book signing with Halo.
Looking for an outlet to feature her work, she became a vendor at the Meigs County Farmers Market in Pomeroy this spring. This was no small accomplishment, as the selection process has standards that must be met before the application can be presented to the Market board. Her first hurdle was her age; vendors under 18 are not usually accepted, but with everything else in order, the Market welcomed her as their youngest member.
Her parents are on the board, but quickly pointed out they excused themselves from the decision, citing conflict of interest.
“We didn’t want her to get approval because we were on the Board, if she was accepted we wanted it to be on her own merits,” Stephanie said. “And if she became a vendor, it would be her responsibility to maintain her booth, we advised her she would have the same expectations and obligations as the adults, and she said she understood and was willing to accept the challenge.”
Both the Board and customers at the Market have been pleased with the decision.
She uses her space to display and sell her art, and also meets clients for her latest project, commissioned art. Using photos of business, historic properties, and private residences, Halo turns the photos into her vision of the structures.
Halo has an innate business sense, which is shown in the way she manages her time. The demand for these commissioned works is considerable, and she only accepts a limited number of orders.
“I enjoy the commissioned pieces,” Halo said. “But I don’t want to accept more work than I can produce, so I limit the requests rather than have people waiting on their orders, and I want to have time for my other projects.”
Her work can also been seen on River Roaster’s Coffee Company t-shirts. This Pomeroy business decided to do a series each year of limited edition shirts, and Halo was selected as their first artist to design the image. Her art is also prominent on a logo she created for Second Avenue Candles in Middleport.
Halo seems to be getting attention from other illustrators as well, including Kevin Morgan, who is perhaps best know for his designs for the Ohio Paw Paw Festival. Morgan has publicly commented on her talent several times, encouragement for the young artist.
Also in the works is her first book, currently with a publisher for review. In the meantime, she is re-editing the book and deciding on a title.
She has also written and illustrated a comic book, or graphic novel, but said that project is on hold at the moment. A play based on “Alice in Wonderland” is ready for production, and Halo said she hopes to see it come alive onstage in the near future.
Halo has always been homed schooled, and her mother said this has given her an opportunity to focus on her art.
Stephanie said each parent makes a decision as to what type of education is best for their children, and her’s was to home school.
“When we decided this would be best for our children, we believed it would give each of them creative space, more opportunity to find their passion. There are so many misconceptions about home schooling, so sometimes it is difficult for other parents to understand how children can get all they need from a home school environment. When I see Halo’s maturity in her art and her business skills, I feel we made the right decision.”
Halo said one of her biggest challenges is pricing her work.
“Most of the time, when I’m at the market, my pieces aren’t priced, mainly because I don’t like writing prices on the art and the tags fall off in the constant travel. So, everyone who stops by has to ask the prices… The thing people don’t realize is, not only do you pay for paint, paper, canvas, and frames, but you put your heart and time in art.”
She said each piece can take hours to complete, and asks that customers respect the price placed on a piece of art, or anything a vendor might be selling.
This 16-year-old artist concluded with a bit of wisdom and advice:
“When you ask an artist, artisan, or vendor a price, respect their answer, they know their worth. And if you see something you think is priced too low, encourage them and tell them it’s worth more than that!”
Halo’s art and contact information can be found on her Facebook page: Halo Rife Paintings and Illustration’s, or by vising her booth at the Meigs County Farmer’s Market on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
© 2020 Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.
Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.