As a writer for Live in Full Color I have gotten to see the world through a colorful lens. I’m more aware of the shades of life around me and take pleasure in letting you in on my view.
I’ve also gotten to meet and interview some of the most talented designers and artists around today. That being said, I take great pride in introducing Miss Ashley Longshore to anyone that is unfamiliar with her talent.
While in New Orleans recently, I met Ashely in her studio on Magazine Street. We chatted , as Southern girls do, and she graciously shared her paintings, her charm, and her story. Here is our interview following that meeting , in its unadulterated form.
AC: Let me just start by saying that if I won the lottery today, I’d clean out your studio/ gallery. Your paintings represent both the cheery pop icons I love and have a palette that simply makes me smile. And now having met you, I can say that your paintings truly represent the spirit of the artist – bold, loud, happy, energetic, and fun. You’d both be an instant breath of fresh air in any setting.
AL: Thank you for that! I never get tired of hearing it and quite actually need to find a bigger studio space to fit my art as well as my ego. ha ha aha. just kidding. God I love an interview!
AC: What inspires your color palette? Your paintings have the vibrant colors of French macaroons or a MGM musical – they’re out of this world.
AL: That makes me so happy because I love French macaroons and I grew up watching MGM musicals. I just love color. It makes me feel alive. I don’t understand the theory of a calm neutral color palette.
If you want neutral then close your eyes and go to sleep. I want to see a world filled with shiny color! I want to see artwork that makes me think and that makes me giggle. There is something about red and pink and Turquoise that tickles my soul. So I guess my use of color really stems from a disdain of the ordinary and boring. I hate wallflowers. I hate wall art with generic flowers. I like things that command attention! BIG BOLD COLORFUL GLOSSY GLASSY ART!!!!!!!
AC: Do you keep notes or have an inspiration board/ book that you collect your thoughts/ dreams / memories?
AL: I keep ideas in my Iphone and I have books and books of images that I have been collecting for the past 13 years. I love looking through them because there is a perfect time table of my inspirations. I can’t keep journals of my dreams. I have tried …and I do have CRAAAAZY dreams but I really don’t have a hard time remembering them. I have a photographic memory so when I see something that I want to paint, its locked in forever! I am mostly inspired by my love, Michael Smith.
AC: Colorful artists usually have an extreme home- either very neutral or very colorful – I’m guessing your house is very colorful.
AL: Oh my god- my house is like fantasia. I collect art so my collection really balances out with my own work. I have goodies that I have collected from my travels all over the world. A zebra skin from Africa, hand carved bowls from Nairobi, shells from Bora Bora. I also have a rock collection. I love geodes and bugs and butterflies. Plus I have lots of my love, Michael Smith’s photography everywhere! I have very eclectic taste. There are lots and lots of cool things to look at at my house. I am not like a hoarder or anything though. I am compulsively neat and organized with a serious love of color and the unique!
AC: One just has to stroll through the French Quarter or along Magazine Street to see the unbelievable treasure trove of colorful art by your community. Do you and other artists support each other and / or collaborate?
AL: Yes. I have been known to collaborate! However at this point in my career I am full steam ahead like a freight train. I have my eye on the prize and am super focused. I have to focus on me now. I dearly love the artist community in New Orleans. THIS IS A GREAT TO PLACE TO BE AN ARTIST! Its competitive down here.. I am competitive. The art world is competitive. I dearly believe that when creative minds come together amazing things happen, so I am open to that. Right now though -ITS ON!!
AC: Coming from New York, I have to say that NOLA reminds me of NYC 15-20 years ago. NYC used to filled with young talented artists that could afford to live here and spend the majority of their time, creating. How do the financial opportunities (affordable rent, large studio / gallery space) allow you to thrive and be able to concentrate on your art?
AL: Well its not so much about affordability as it is living in city that is so endlessly inspiring. An ambitious artist will make ends meet. Even if I sell ten paintings in one day I am still unsatisfied and want more. It ain’t about the rent, its all about inspiration. This city is built around musicians artists and creative types. The city embraces that and celebrates it! That is why I love new Orleans.
It is a city filled with love! The love of art here makes me thrive, keeps me happy and excited for possibilities! Now we have a huge film commission. They just used two of my chairs and a large painting in a Kate Hudson movie. I have some pretty huge celebs on my collector list thanks to this city. Cupid hit my heart with a giant arrow and I fell right in love with this city. Its true love!
AC: Can we look forward to more of your amazing chairs for Anthropologie?
AL: I can not predict the future plans of a multi hundred million dollar company but I sure hope so. I am working on a new project for them now that has nothing to do with chairs. I just returned from two weeks in Portugal working for them! The newest Ashley Longshore for Anthropologie will be at their new store opening in Chelsea . I AM BEYOND EXCITED! That’s all I can say!
Calandria Armchair, Longshore $1598 from Anthropologie
AC: How do you see your performance art evolving in the next year? Are you planning more performances or bigger scale?
AL: yes!!! more more more! bigger bigger bigger! more girls more film screens more projectors. Bigger and over the top! I LOOOVE my performance art and I love film. I am working on some digital art installations now. I am really excited about it. I love the whole wow shock performance factor that really sticks with people! The performance art is always evolving because I film things in my day to day life and edit them together to form a story. In my life there is never a stale moment. I am always pushing forward so the performance art will push forward as well.
AC: Ever since seeing your performance video and vat of gold body paint, I have to say I’m obsessed. One of my Mardi Gras costumes will have me covered in gold body paint. Can you give us a hint to any of your colorful carnival outfits?
AL: I wear a giant white afro wig that is loaded with butterflies. I put glitter all over my lips and always have a giant cocktail of vodka, cranberry, soda and lime. I love carnival! Lots of the parades roll right in front of my gallery so there are mobs of people and my friends partying in my space! I LOVE THE MADNESS!
AC: You said that you film yourself painting commissioned work and include a time elapsed CD of this for each client. Can you explain how important the process is for your clients to understand the creation of a painting?
AL: I am not sure how important it is for them to understand the creative. They just need to like the finished product. They mostly like stepping into my world and seeing the process. They show their friends. Their friends buy art. I like for my clients to be happy and I like to take it to the next level. Filming myself painting is not just a little something extra for my clients but also a marketing tool for me.
AC: I met your partner – both in business and love- while visiting the studio. Your coupling reminded me of Georgia O’Keefe and Alfred Stieglitz – she a painter and he a photographer. Here are some quotes from Georgia –which quote do you agree with the most and why?
AL: Aw. We are like that aren’t we? He is the love of my life and my greatest inspiration. I can’t stand to be without him for a minute. He is my rock and the greatest love of my life. He is so talented and sooooo patient.
As far as these quotes go, I like A- “you get whatever accomplishments you are willing to declare”. In this business you must express the originality within yourself. That is what makes you unique. Accomplishments are subjective. My greatest accomplishment to date would be so minor to an artist like Alice Neel or Elizabeth Peyton but to some other artists I might seem quite accomplished. I will accept and own everything I deem important to the growth of my career!
A- “You get whatever accomplishment you are willing to declare.”
B- To create one’s own world in any of the arts takes courage
C- Often, a picture just gets into my head without my having the least idea of how it got there.”
AC: So Audrey Hepburn is a consistent character in your work. Here are some quotes by Audrey – which quote sounds like something you would say or is something you agree with?
AL: most definitely A- the quote about opportunities. I do NOT let opportunities pass me by. I move fast. I multi-task. I create. I sell. I design for a major corporation. I make furniture. I work with ceramics. I love the idea that you might have one moment to shine. One moment truly can change the course of your life and career. I am a firm believer in destiny but you have to produce and work hard. I work my tail off. The harder you work the luckier you get! amen.
A) Not to live for the day, that would be materialistic — but to treasure the day. I realize that most of us live on the skin — on the surface — without appreciating just how wonderful it is simply to be alive at all.
B) Opportunities don’t often come along. So, when they do, you have to grab them.
AC: You’ve got some videos posted on YouTube showcasing your dancing skills. When you’re in the mood to get your groove on …what are 5 songs on your playlist?
AL: Right now I am obsessed with La Roux. I loooove Nina Simone. I love Postal Service. I love Notorious BIG. I love Jazz! The new preservation Hall jazz band album is awesome! I listened to it the whole time I was in Portugal! I be jammin.
Ok- I love Mad Libs and I’m going to guess that you love them too. So here’s our own Mad Lib. Keep it PG-13.
My name is Ashley, but my friends call me her royal wildness. They’d tell you that my best quality is i am funny. They’d be quick to tell you that my worst quality is being overly sensitive. I’m working on it.
If I wasn’t an artist, I’d probably be miserable. If I didn’t live in New Orleans, I’d probably be in Europe for sure. The next place I’d like to explore is Australia.
My favorite book is anything with pictures. My favorite cookie is anything with chocolate. A make up item I can’t live without is lip gloss.
If a crayon color were to be named after me it would be her royal wildness and deep cherry red. If they named a racy polish color/ or signature cocktail after me it would be called THE TRAIN HAS LEFT THE STATION because when its on -its on.
My favorite Beatle is i guess Paul. My favorite Charlie’s Angel character is charlie (RIP Mr. Forsythe) . My favorite muppet is Animal.
When I want to feel glamorous/ sexy I wake up. When I seek inspiration I open my eyes. The first person I want to see in heaven is Picasso. The last person I want to see is my dentist/gynecologist.
AC: What can we expect to see from you in the next 5 years? Are you a planner or a do it and let’s see what happens kind of woman?
AL: Global takeover. I am on a fast track. I am a planner and a very much in the moment “do it” gal. i plan on working working and working and creating and following every dream i have ever had. it keeps getting better and better but i can already tell you that I am truly happy. every time I reach a goal I keep pushing myself. there is not a stopping point. There is no end to a creative mind and an ambitious soul.
So now you know. Check out Ashley’s youtube videos and see the real personality behind the art.