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Kathryn Ashford

Kathryn Ashford

A really fun interview with young artist and recent graduate Kathryn Ashford, along with her vibrant work! Love the way her practice bounces between digital and analog painting methods, each one influencing the other. More at the links below!

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I'd love to know a bit about you! Where are you from originally, and where are you based now?

So originally, I am from the central valley of California. I was born and raised in Clovis, a small town just outside of Fresno. 

What has your art education been like, whether formally or informally?

FORMALLY: I attended Biola University where I studied fine arts and the integration of graphic design. I graduated in 2016 with a BFA and a minor in Bible Studies. 

(much more) INFORMALLY: I'm convinced a huge part of my art education is really a continual accumulation of life, experiences, and culture. Art seems to be an implicit language that anyone is capable of understanding through their own lens. 

What first interested you in making art?

I would say I've always been interested in art making. As a kid, in all the usual ways... sidewalk chalk, coloring on the walls, coloring on myself, etc. I have a very addictive personality, so growing up my interests would constantly shift depending on whatever sport/hobby it was I was trying to master. Which seemed to pay off, considering I am a pogo-stick CHAMP now! 

But it definitely wasn't until college that I realized a deep need/longing for making. I found it to be life-giving!  

You've described yourself as a painter who has moved into using digital processes as a medium. Did you first paint the "analog" way?

Yes! I love to paint and still do. Painting (with actual physical paint) is very much still a part of my life/practice. I enjoy the physicality of mark making and the process seems to help with my patience, a virtue GOD knows I need more of! My paintings always end up informing my digital work or vice versa.  I never really can tell which has more of an influence on the other -- a chicken before the egg kinda deal. Regardless, my paintings always end up referencing digital space or worlds... which probably means I spend too much of my time in front of a screen!!!! 

Your work seems interested in a duality of sorts between humans and machines, the ideas of input or output, the "real" and the virtual, and what that reality entails. You emphasize phone apps such as Snapchat as well. Can you elaborate on your interest in this and how it applies to your practice?

I would say my work exists within the tension caused by duality and dualistic natures.  Man vs machine, input vs output, reality vs virtuality, are all common experiences within the human condition today. These exist right alongside good vs evil, black vs white, pretty vs ugly. It is the duality of anything that withholds us from processing things like infinity, mystery, God, or suffering. I'm interested in processing ideas, not only through old operating systems, but new ones as well. Confronting duality in order to bring about an expanded reality. 

Making work as an artist in 2017 allows me to explore so many new tools and portals for creating and understanding. I’ve currently been working a lot with snapchat and its sticker feature. Making work through interactions within reality and virtuality [VirtualityReality]. 

What is your process like? How much time do you typically spend on a work?

My process is kind of all over the place. I think I'm just in a constant state of "process" or making. I work full time as a designer for an apparel company, so I am constantly looking and creating graphics/textiles all day. It's cool because it really informs what I'm thinking about or the types of imagery and source material I produce for my own practice. Very rarely do I sit down and have an idea of what I want to make in my head. Some of my favorite works have come from sitting on my phone in rush hour traffic, on Snapchat, or Photoshop mix hehe. (I’M A SAFE DRIVER AND NOT A SHITTY PERSON I PROMISE) 

How much time I spend on a work really just depends.  Some pieces I will literally make on my lunch break and think it’s the coolest thing I've ever made, and it takes me like 20 minutes. Some pieces I'll revisit over and over again and never really feel like they are finished.  

How would you describe your studio or workspace?

Just like my process, my work space is all over the place! Maybe I'm just all over the place! But I would say my work space is constantly changing. I have my at work-work space, which really has sort of collided with own practice...for better or for worse. And then my at-home work space, which is pretty much my laptop/phone, and anywhere I can paint or spread out materials!! I will literally just nail a huge canvas on my bedroom wall above my bed and work if I have to. Someday I hope to have a very specific creative space for myself, but at 22 ALL MY MONEY GOES TO RENT AND STUDENT LOANS YAY! 

What is the best advice you've ever received so far?

The best advice I've received so far is "Divine benevolence gives itself to you in and as your very life." and, DON'T BE A LAZY ASS!!

How would you define "success?"

I would define success as being kind, loving, and endlessly motivated.  

What do you feel is the most challenging thing about pursuing art, either creatively or professionally, especially as a recent BFA graduate? 

The hardest part about pursuing art in any way is also the best part: it challenges you to know and understand yourself to scary depths. I don't really see an end point of success or accomplishment in the pursuit of the arts. I think as a recent BFA graduate, the worst part for me is feeling like there is never enough time!! TIME is so haunting and crippling. I think learning to be an artist or whatever that means, for me, is really just learning how to remove myself from any type of societal or personal expectations in most aspects. I just want to live and make things!! 

What are you working on right now?

Right now I am working on producing merchandise!! I want to put my art on everything all the time...which is probably self absorbed but I just want to!! I’m in the process of making skateboard decks and shirts/hats. 

But to be honest I really want to work on having a showcase or getting up some art in a gallery or two. I don't know if just any art gallery would be the most efficient way to show my work...but I want to figure out something within the next year!

Anything else you would like to add?

Stay sweet, stay safe, love everyone, make art!! 

Find more at kathrynashfordstudio.com and on Instagram @kathrynashford!

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