Meet Ashley Mary; a painter, illustrator, art director, and overall creative being from Minneapolis. She hasn’t always been a painter, in fact, she never even took an art class in high school! Read more on how she finds inspiration, has learned to follow her gut, and how she continues to grow as a successful artist!
WHAT ARE YOU UP TO RIGHT NOW?
For work I paint, illustrate, art direct, and prop style.
WHAT'S YOUR DAILY ROUTINE TYPICALLY LOOK LIKE ON A WEEKDAY?
It really looks different every single day, which I love. Typically I am a morning bird and am most energized, creative, and efficient in the early hours. I like to find a local coffee shop and get some emails and design done before heading unto the next things. Today I went into an agency called KNOCK inc I freelance at in the morning. While there I worked on some details for an upcoming photoshoot I’ll be art directing on and I also prepped for another shoot I will be styling on. I get bored easily and like jobs that keep me on my feet and require tactile design. After working at the agency for a few hours, I went home where my studio is and hoped back on the computer before heading to a local gallery called Public Functionary to pick-up unsold work from a group show I was in over the weekend. If I’m kicking ass and taking names, I love to get a run or some yoga into my day. But tonight it’s straight to sweat pants to get some painting and design in. Some nights I see girlfriends, attend an event, paint, eat dinner with my boyfriend, or just veg out with a good book or Netflix binge.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT BEING AN ILLUSTRATOR & ARTIST?
The variety of it all, each project is different. I also love how tactile illustration and painting is, I like to use my hands and different tools. I am very good at making messes and these professions leave room for that part of me. I like that a project can take me an hour or 3 months but I have an end-result of something lovely to look at or interact with.
HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN A CREATIVE PERSON? WAS THERE A MOMENT YOU KNEW THAT YOU WANTED TO GO INTO THE CREATIVE INDUSTRY?
I have always been creative in some capacity! As a kid that looked more like performance arts. I was a total ham. I would put on shows for my neighbors, family, bust out the clarinet if things got desperate and jump at any chance to sing, dance, and act and have the bad dance pictures to prove it. I always loved building things as a child too, LEGOS or tiny homes out of cardboard boxes (before the tiny home movement, I was ahead of my time). But I didn’t take one art class in high school, I did theatre and choir. It wasn’t until I tried my hand at a few drawing classes in undergrad that I started to feel connected to visual arts and making things and it wasn’t until AFTER I graduated that I really started painting. I actually started my artist career doing more collage work and over the last 2 years it’s transformed to focus mostly on painting now.
WHAT OBSTACLES HAVE YOU FACED? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
Deciding to go back to school was a big change. I left my job of 5 years to go back to school part-time and that came with it’s own set of challenges. I had to work retail and go to classes during nights and weekends and it kicked my butt. But I loved MCAD and the creative environment there so it was worth the risk. Deciding that all felt very daunting. I’ve had to do a lot of jumping/leaping into unknowns, I’m always learning the value of the “gut”. I have to do what feels right a lot in the creative industry and it usually serves me well.
HOW DO YOU REPRESENT THE TRAIT CREATIVE?
I guess in a tangible way I am an artist but abstractly I think we all are creative beings inside. We are constantly making things, sharing ideas, exploring, translating experience into words…life is creative at the end of the day.
WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR INSPIRATION?
I follow a lot of artist, work, design on social media and keep tabs on-line. Honestly I don’t really seek out inspiration a ton, it’s all around so I just try to pay attention more than anything. With being on the internet almost all day, you manage to eventually see something that inspires you. For me that can be even a combination of colors I see and make note of. I print out images that I like the compositions of and occasionally try to abstractly mimic that in my paintings.
HOW DO YOU EXPRESS YOUR CREATIVITY OUTSIDE OF YOUR JOB AND WORK?
I love interior design! I am always searching for the next piece of furniture or décor for my place. I am always painting or changing around something in my home, it’s a constant rotation and I love the change.
DO YOU FIND THAT YOUR CREATIVITY RUBS OFF ON OTHERS? HOW SO?
I’ve been told it does a few times, which is always sweet to hear. People will tell me they were inspired to paint, or start a project. Two years ago I illustrated the day of the month for the entire year on Instagram and called it #letteringthedays. At the time I was really new to hand-lettering and it gave me a platform and discipline to work around. Since then I’ve met a few people who have started a year-long projects who say I inspired them. That feels great! Because that project definitely came out of others who inspired me to start it.
ASIDE FROM BEING CREATIVE, WHAT ARE THREE OTHER PERSONALITY TRAITS THAT DESCRIBE YOURSELF?
Driven, I’m always working and thinking of the next thing I want to do. Working is energizing for me, I like to do it!
Funny, or I tell myself that anyways. Someone has to laugh at my jokes and it may as well be me. I’ve always valued sense of humor in my friendships and the best people in my life leave me crying in a ball on the floor. (Because of a joke…) Hope I return the gesture
Loving, I try to be at least! It’s definitely something to strive for but not always achieved. I try to come back to idea always. Love wins.
WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES AND GOALS? WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS FROM NOW?
I’d love to keep painting and extend my work outside of Minnesota more, if that’s showing in galleries in other states or countries. Painting is where I’d love to spend more time. I also love working in surface design. I would love to keep exploring and working with surface patterns, getting my art on home décor, bags, etc. Outside of work I want to travel lots.
WHAT'S THE MOST VALUABLE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU COULD GIVE TO ANOTHER YOUNG WOMAN ABOUT WORKING IN THE CREATIVE INDUSTRY AND EXPRESSING THEIR CREATIVITY IN THE WORLD?
Ask for what you want, don’t be shy! Worst thing someone can say is “no” but you have to ask. Usually the worst case scenario is not all that bad. You’re most likely underpaid too, so ask for more money! Show your work. If you don’t show it, no one will know what you are making and what they could want to work with you on. Invite other women into projects you’re working on, there’s so much to learn and soak up in collaborations. You are lovely (I’m sure), don’t sell yourself short.
Check out more from Ashley below!