To Top

Life & Work with Nancy Hadley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nancy Hadley.

Hi Nancy, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art at the University of California Santa Barbara. My first art job out of college was building museum exhibits at the California Academy of Sciences. After six years of designing, fabricating, and installing dioramas, I started a freelance design, mural, sculpt and illustration company to service clients including Mattel, Dior, Zegna. In 2004 I joined the world of reality renovation television on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (EMHE) and became their first Art Director. I have been managing my company and working as Art Director and Production Designer on TV shows since then. Past shows include three seasons on Kitchen Nightmares/FOX, season 8 of Trading Spaces/TLC as a designer on camera, Tabitha’s Salon Takeover/Bravo, the first two seasons of Bar Rescue/Spike TV (I appeared on camera as design expert). Tattoo Rescue/Spike TV, Home Sweet Home/OWN (Art Director/on air Art Expert), Barkitecture/Quibi (I designed eight unique dog houses for celebrities). Currently, I am working on a Food Network show and in a bubble. When I am back at home, I manage my business out of Studio Q27 (a 72′ long WWII Quonset Hut in Costa Mesa) working on design, painted portraits, activations for events, murals, and sculptures. When I am not working, I hang out with my husband, two dogs Hamish & Fezzik, a kitten named Banksy, and twelve frogs talking about our three bright and wonderful kids – Connor, Isabel, and Larkspur. I make it a point to be creative every day because it is honestly my life’s blood.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
It was not a smooth road at all. It took me a little while to find work in the art world but once I got the job building museum exhibits, it opened my eyes to other creative opportunities through design, sculpting, painting, and building. But the pace of building museum exhibits was a little slow for me. Items needed to be reviewed and approved for scientific accuracy and waiting on teams of scientists added to our workdays. When I became a sculpting vendor for Mattel the turnaround was fast and I thrived under that pressure. I am more of a sprinter than a slow and steady artist. This prepared me for the pace or reality television beautifully. I did, however, sometimes work myself too hard with 50 and 60 hour shifts. It has taken me some time to allow myself to work hours like everyone else.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
My specialty is creative problem solving on the fly. In television – I describe myself as the Winston Wolf (Pulp Fiction reference) of reality television design and renovation. I love to create content, art department work systems, and visually beautiful and functional spaces for new shows. I am most proud of my family. My husband and I worked out how to tag team parent while I traveled across the United States on TV shows. When I was out of town, it was all on him and when I returned, he would pass me the baton so he could get a bit of rest. I am proud and grateful that my family made it possible for me to help over 100 families come home to creative and beautiful spaces. Now the kids are grown so lately, I have been doing commissioned pet and people portraits and I paint them over several days. On EMHE, I had to paint murals in hours not days so I am enjoying the luxury of stepping back and taking my time. I am currently taking commissions so please check out my work on Instagram and hit me up if you would like one of my custom pieces. I take my time but the turn around is still faster than most.

What do you like best about our city? What do you like least?
I love all the artistic diversity of Los Angeles. But because the city is so spread out I think the public transportation could be more developed.

Contact Info:

  • Email:
  • Website:
  • Instagram: @nancyhadleysfac
  • Facebook: Nancy Hadley Designer/Artist
  • Twitter: @artnanners
  • Youtube: Nancy Hadley

Image Credits:

First Headshot – Tschka Moran all others were taken with my camera.

Suggest a Story: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.


  1. Kathy Jean

    March 10, 2021 at 08:41

    Nancy is a phenomenal person and artist! I have enjoyed following her career and her pet portraits are really special.

  2. J. Slater

    March 10, 2021 at 16:33

    The scope of her talent is amazing! She manages to make even the most ethereal work seem accessible and down to earth…Huge fan!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in