Would 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, and 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 in 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.
Tell 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!
Is 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, and if so, how did you get past that? Did that provide a lesson for your career?
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.