Sunday, June 8, 2008

Ashley Goldberg Interview!

Ashley Goldberg and Drew Bell of Ashley G and Drew have been creatively collaborating since the moment they met in 2002. In 2006 they combined Ashley's love of illustration and Drew's talent for "computer magic" and began a body of work together including digital illustrations and prints.

We at Schmancy Gallery adore their work! Ashley and I swapped emails during the coldest of cold Northwest springs.

Schmancy Gallery: I read on your blog that you recently moved from St. Louis to Portland! Are you enjoying the Pacific Northwest and the lack of summer that we have here? Are you experiencing any kind of culture shock? Are you enjoying your proximity to an Ikea?

Ashley Goldberg: I did move just over a month ago and I am LOVING your lack of summer. Everyone has been very kind and reassured me that this year is particularly unusual -- I don't have the heart to tell them it could be overcast and 55 degrees every day of the summer and I would be in heaven. I have spent 26 years with some of the HOTTEST, most HUMID weather in the country and I am ready for a change.

There's actually no culture shock yet. This is my time to say that although I didn't want to spend my whole life in St. Louis, it is greatly underestimated. Parts of it are wonderful and beautiful and the housing is fantastic and cheap! But, I was ready for a change and to be on a coast. One of my favorite things about Portland is that I can go to most breakfast eateries and get a tofu scramble. And people stop for you at crosswalks! The views, trees, and moss. Breathtaking.

I love being close to an IKEA! I'm sitting on my new IKEA couch right now. However, I believe if you are in a city that is big enough to have an IKEA you are also in a city where it's hard to find a not-picked-over-or-pricey thrift store. So far that is proving true here. If anyone has some awesome thrifting tips for Portland...

SG: I have to tell you, every time I do an image search on Etsy, something wonderful from your shop shows up in the results. Are you a mind reader? If not, how do you come up with your subject material?

AG: Mind reader? Yes. Mwaa haa haa. Noooo... but I do think there is a collective creative vibe that artists can pick up on almost simultaneously. You can sense a trend coming or going. If you pick up a magazine, go to a website, read a blog and you're not looking for inspiration, you're just looking, you still absorb that information. Those colors, that trend, that shape. And somewhere down the line there is a good chance that it will appear in your work just filtered through your own voice.

There are so many ways to come up with subject matter. I, like most, have quite a few recurring themes, characters, and colors. Other times I hit on something that excites me and I want to explore it further or rediscover a character I have neglected.

Sometimes I have that tingly feeling that my work is beginning to feel stale so it may not be far behind for my audience to feel that too, and I want to find something new.

But the bottom line for me is that I want the process, not just the end result, to be something I enjoy.

SG: Speaking of Etsy, one of my favorite Etsy promotional postcards is based on your "So Close" print. How important has Etsy been to your career?

AG: Without Etsy I may have not had this career at all. I will always be extremely grateful to Etsy.

SG: Your bearded men series is fantastic! Do you know that many men with serious facial hair or is it artistic license? Also, why beards and not mustaches?

AG: Well, thank you! For me, men and facial hair is about quality not quantity. I don't know MANY guys with facial hair but my MOST IMPORTANT guy has sported a beard for 99% of our relationship. Little does he know his facial hair is a major artistic inspiration to me. :)

Sometimes I do draw mustaches and I know many a fine fellow who has one, but I prefer beards because I think you can use them to show a larger range of "guy". They can be a fatherly type or your future brother-in-law or unironically convey a cute boy. I can't even count the times I get e-mail that says "that looks just like my [fill-in-the-blank]." I LOVE that.

SG: Your color palette tends to be very limited and sophisticated. What draws you to those particular colors?

AG: I like colors that I would want to see in my home. Bright but soothing. Subtle but rich. Drew loves telling me "there's no difference between those two colors!" but to me they are worlds apart. My drawings are simple, so the meaning or the color needs to be sophisticated. Otherwise I would be afraid they would look too cartoony.

SG: You update your blog faithfully! Do you think that it (and the feedback you receive from people) has any affect on your work?

AG: Absolutely. I feel the need to produce work so I can keep the blog going and have something new to share. Also, I feel so lucky to be able to gauge what pieces people are gravitating to or ones that fall a little flat. It doesn't mean I'm a slave to people's opinion, but I certainly welcome and appreciate it.

SG: Do you have any big plans for the rest of 2008? What can we expect to see from you in the future?

AG: I want 2008 to be the year of the cliche "work smarter, not harder". I want to look into getting an agent, tie up loose ends and projects that have been haunting me, and really move forward. I would love to see my illustrations as wallpaper, wrapping paper, on notebooks and cards. I love packaging and product design and stuffed animals. And I would love more time to create personal art. Explore and grow privately. I love abstract work and collage but right now have very little time to work on it. So we'll see. I know I'm excited whatever the future brings.

Ashley G and Drew will be showing at Schmancy this Friday the 13th with Bisbee Stitches. Be sure to drop by to meet everyone! Until then, check out Ashley and Drew's Etsy shop!

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