We discovered abstract Artist and Illustrator, Ashely Mary, while scrolling through pinterest one day earlier this year. The piece pictured, which was one of several of Ashely's pieces featured by Design Sponge, inspired the design for our Abstract Earring Set. We loved all of the playful shapes within the piece, and thought it would be fun to design a pair of earrings incorporating these shapes, with multiple components that could be worn in a variety of ways.
As we discovered more of Ashley's work, we quickly fell in love with her whimsical multi-media pieces. Here we learn more about the Minneapolis-based artist.
EV: When did you begin making art, and how has your work evolved since then?
AM: I really started being interested in art later in my college experience ten years ago. I took a print-making class I loved, but hated all the assignments. We had to carve into metal sheets and I was the worst at it. But I did love the ink transfer and got very experimental with it, incorporating a lot of collage and sewing into my work. It was my last semester of collage and my art professor didn't care, she was just excited I was making something and encouraged me in it. It then grew into a sort of painting/collage hybrid focusing on vintage ephemera that I would cut from old magazines, of which I own many now. I have spent weeks of my life flipping through old magazines. My work was was really colorful and playful always, I was drawn to bright colors, lots of pink (nothing has changed there). Over the years my mediums adjusted. I went back to school for graphic design, and that started to influence my work I think. About 3 years ago I started moving away from vintage collage and focused more on just painting (with acrylics). My paintings became abstract, messy, and less about gluing something over it. Now every year there seems to be new patterns or techniques that make their way into my work. I have come a little full circle in the last year, I'm back to collaging but now on paper and with more abstract shapes. Sometimes the collages serve as a map for what a painting will turn into, it helps my process. I feel really comfortable with scissors and sometimes that's the most organic way for me to start composing a piece is to just cut and arrange until something feels right. The color and sense of play still remain.
EV: Have you always lived in Minneoplis? What is the arts community like there?
Outside of college, yes. I would love to live somewhere else at some point maybe for a short period but all my people are here and it's what makes it home. MPLS has a really big creative community of artist, makers, designers, musicians, chefs, writers, etc. I can't speak for everyone at all, but most of my community is made of of creatives and everyone supports and works with everyone. There are a lot of great old buildings here in NE Minneapolis that are now converted artist studios. The building my studio is in, Northrup King Building, has over 200 artist and businesses in it and it originally was used for processing seeds back in the early 1900s. It's a really beautiful maze of studios and I have a good crew of friends here all doing their own things that I am constantly impressed by. We all understand what it's like to own your own business and the constant hustle that goes into that. There's a sense of empathy, support, and collaboration that I am forever grateful for. Minneapolis's creative scene feels like a hidden gem of the US.
EV: Which artists inspire or influence you most?
AM: No one in particular influences me but I would say I am inspired by people who work hard. Any time I see someone doing what I want to do, it's motivation for me to keep making and trying new things and to say "no" more to projects that take me away from what I love to do. But I always discovering new people who's work I admire, social media makes that easy. I love following illustrators, interior designers, painters. Some people I'm digging recently are Ilka Mészely, Quentin Monge, Heather Chontos.
EV: When you're creating a piece, do you have a vision ahead of time, or does it unfold organically?
AM: I have experienced both, I'm really at my core not a creature of habit. Sometimes I'm collaging and once it's finished I think "this needs to become a painting!" Other times I'm intentionally collaging, hoping to plan out a new painting and other times I just put some paint down on the canvas and see what happens. Sometimes I even just wipe my leftover paint on a canvas and it becomes a painting in itself. There is no hard and fast rule for my process and I'm always trying to figure out new ways to make my work.
EV: Who would you love to collaborate with?
AM: In terms of product/surface design, I would love to work with a kid's brand at some point. I think my artwork seems to connect with kids and I love that. I want to paint more murals, large scale versions of my collages, a big outdoor wall somewhere would be amazing and I would have zero clue where to start but it sounds fun! Who can help me?!
EV: What advice would you give aspiring artists/creatives?
AM: I think being an aspiring artist/creative is an oxymoron. If you are a creative/artist and you are making something, then you are already a creative. It's simply the act of making something from nothing. We all do it everyday really. But I think if you are a creative and you aspire to spend more of your time doing it, or to make it a career, or you have a goal within your craft, that's something you can aspire to. I always think the practice of making something everyday is valuable for creatives. Stretching your creative brain like you would any other muscle you want to get strong. And try sharing your work with someone to keep yourself accountable. Experiment with different mediums, you don't have to use just one. Keep lists, make lots of small goals, get good sleep. I don't know! Art is fluid and what rule could work for me might inhibit someone else. You need to find what motivates you and work within that system.
Find more of Ashley's work at ashleymary.com