This interest lasted well into high school where it was replaced with painting and printmaking. The talent he exhibited in this media was of such caliber that he won a scholarship to Northern Illinois University. Here he studied printmaking with a focus on etching under an inspirational professor, Dr. Driesbach, who recognized Hayes' talent and introduced him to two nationally acclaimed masters in the craft of viscosity printing, Stanley Wm. Hayter and Krishna Reddy. Hayes considers these three individuals to be indispensable in the developing of his artistic talents.
Hayes' years at the University constituted a period of intense growth for his art. In addition to being rigorously involved in his art, he wrote critiques and reviews for a national art publication. His art gained recognition beyond the university setting. From the academic front, he was awarded a Van Brighten Talented Student Scholarship, and from the critical community, he started showing on a regular basis in one of Chicago's leading galleries.
As a result of his dedication to his art, his natural and inevitable bent to his medium, and the guidance of these critical people in his life, Hayes gained admission to the Art Institute of Chicago. This was no routine achievement. He was selected for one of five available graduate positions out of approximately 3500 applicants.
Through graduate school, Hayes was given access to the Glore Print room Collection of the Chicago Museum. Here he was able to study a continuum of print work ranging from early Renaissance engravings through the contemporary work of the best of today's print artists. These studies brought sophistication and solidity to his work. His style evolved into a postmodern presentation incorporating color with semotics (meaning as relates to symbols and signs). Even with this solid theoretical foundation, the end result is simple, understated and very effective.
To date, his artwork has been universally well received. Hayes has exhibited at the Name and the Artemesia Galleries in Chicago, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. and internationally in both South America and Europe. His prints and paintings are also represented in both corporate and private collections, including the established and respected Sears collection. Finally, Hayes has work in the very collection that was so important to the development of his style, the Glore Print Room. Beyond these credentials, since graduation from the Art Institute of Chicago, Hayes has received several grants and won numerous competitions.