Ashley looking forward, brown hair, black top

Ashley Ayer

B.F.A., 2012, Communication Design: Graphic Design
Instagram: Ashley Ayer
LinkedIn: Ashley Ayer
Website: Ashley Ayer

Black girl film clubWould you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi! I’m Ashley, a freelance graphic designer based in Southern California. I grew up wanting to be a fashion designer and discovered graphic design in high school when I realized the album covers of the bands I liked were more interesting than the clothes they wore. Within the design, I have always been inspired by fashion and punk aesthetics—during my time at CVAD, the world was still toeing the line between analog and digital. I think I’m still reaching for that tangible quality of pre-digital life. Outside of design, I co-host and produce a movie podcast called Black Girl Film Club and have been teaching myself French for the last several years.

What do you think about keeping art and design in K-12 and higher education curricula?
I feel like the people advocating for removing art classes from early education don’t understand art’s value beyond aesthetics, which means it’s more necessary than ever. Engaging with art requires a healthy bit of curiosity about the past and present (both in one’s culture and others’) and helps develop the ability to synthesize and interpret information, symbolism, and emotions—an arts education is an important foundation for understanding the world.

How's My Driving album cover, black on turquoise blueTell us about the first dollar you earned as a creative.
I designed a brochure for an art show in Denton and was paid $100 (a LOT of money back in 2010). I absolutely didn't know what I was doing, but it was my first time working on something that wasn't homework or a personal project, so I was determined to do a good job!

Selena movie poster, pink, gold, black and white and redIs there something you think non-creative people struggle to understand about your journey as a creative in an arts- or design-related field?
Many people only think of art as a hobby and usually quit drawing before adulthood, so design as a career doesn't seem possible. Almost every design has a thought process behind it. It's not magic, and it's not instantaneous, and when it seems that way, it's because it's based on years of training.

Was there ever a moment in a critique or class that made you think you should just give up your art dreams? If so, how did you get past that? Did that provide a lesson for your career?
There were so many. My first attempt at passing the midpoint exam was awful. I struggled in all of my design classes that semester (made worse by the fact that I didn't have a laptop at the time), and when it came time to get my work after the review, I found my poster on the floor, and I knew I had failed. I briefly considered quitting the program entirely. I think it helped that I made really good friends in my next design classes and that those friends were extremely supportive in ways that I didn't know I needed — I'm still friends with all of them today. I would say that having a supportive network of people has been a huge lesson in my career — it can be easy to isolate yourself, especially now post-COVID, but being able to reach out to people who've also been through the program has been invaluable.

The Chocolate Hippie poster