Malindi Press sat down with artist Ashley Adams to learn about her artistic journey and she shared some words of advice. Subscribe to the newsletter to receive more stories like these.
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Ashley Adams is a fine artist and designer who was born and raised in Orange County, California. Her passion for art began to take shape when she was in college, but it wasn't until her grandmother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer that she realized her true calling.
During countless visits to the hospital, Ashley would see the doctors front and center, and she found herself debating whether pre-med was right for her. However, after going through the journey with her grandmother, she knew that she wouldn't be happy as a doctor. Instead, she made the conscious decision to pursue art and to use it as a means to heal people.
Ashley earned her BFA in Graphic Design from California State University Fullerton in 2015, and two years later, she earned her MFA in Design from California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Her artwork focuses on identity and the human body, and she believes that art can be used as a form of communication to bring people together and share their stories.
Despite the belief held by some that degrees are not needed for art, Ashley is a big cheerleader for higher education. Her mother instilled in her the importance of education, and although the choice of degree was left up to Ashley, her mother encouraged her to pursue what she would be happiest with.
Ashley ultimately decided to pursue graphic design, as she knew that there was a need for designers in every market. She played it smart, knowing that she would have a job after graduation. However, her mother also pushed her to pursue a master's degree, telling her that although there are plenty of designers, having a certain level of expertise would put her higher up.
Her master's degree gave her the knowledge to conceptualize, and understand the foundations of design, and articulate herself and her design process. Certain tools and skills that she gained from her master's program would have been difficult to acquire otherwise.
While it's true that one doesn't necessarily need to go to school to become an artist, Ashley believes that having the backup and proof point that comes with a degree helps. When you're at that table negotiating your worth, you can ask for the money you deserve because of the education and experience you've gained.
Ashley acknowledges that there is a stigma that artists don't make money. However, she believes that it's just a matter of finding the right niche and entry point. With the help of the internet, the curtain has been lifted on the art world, and people can see behind the process. Ashley has documented her journey and painting process, and people love it. When they can see the thought process and all the materials that went into a piece, it helps them understand why it's worth a certain amount of money.
Ashley draws inspiration from a few artists, but there are two in particular that have stuck with her. One is Hank Willis Thomas, a photographer and conceptual artist who is an alum from her grad program. She gravitates toward his work because of the way he frames his pieces and brings in different perspectives. Ashley wants her art to change the narrative and bring in a certain dialogue, to change people's minds and perspectives in ways they wouldn't have otherwise thought of. The other artist who inspires Ashley is Basquiat, who she loves for his non-conventional ways of expressing himself. He was raw and a pioneer.
When working with brands, she approaches her art in the same way as when she's working on her own stuff. It's important to her that her vision is kept, and if that can't happen, she gracefully bows out.
Ashley's advice to fellow artists is simple yet powerful: "There's no one path that fits all. Follow your passion, and don't let people deter you. Keep creating. Keep pursuing. Keep practicing. It's not going to be easy, but it definitely pays off." As an artist herself, Ashley understands the struggles and challenges of pursuing a career in the creative field. However, she also knows the immense satisfaction that comes with creating something truly unique and meaningful. By encouraging others to stay true to themselves and their vision, Ashley hopes to inspire a new generation of artists to pursue their dreams and create work that moves and connects people in ways they never thought possible.