I am extremely excited to finally bring another Shine Bright post; this time featuring the GRRREAT Ashley Castro. One of the cool things about working at Hobby Lobby is that you get to see a lot of talented people, Ashley is talented for sure. Her illustration skills as well as her passion shine through, this is why I have asked her to share some insights of her design and some thoughts. Enjoy & make sure to check out her work afterwards!! 

For me, enjoying what you do no matter what, is fundamental to having success. What do you think you enjoy the most about being a designer?

I've always been a quiet, introverted person. I didn't have a lot of friends growing up because I moved around quite a bit since my dad was in the military so I used art as an escape. Eventually art became more of a passion rather than a hobby. As I gained more skill, I fell more in love with it because I could be more expressive. For a long time I was super shy about sharing my art with people but my family gave me a lot of encouragement. People started recognizing my talent and asking me to do things for them which made me feel good. It's an amazing feeling when someone loves your art so much that they want you to do things for their wedding, business, etc. The fact that I get to live my passion every day and make people smile by sharing it with them makes me happy. That's what I enjoy the most. 

Recently I have noticed a lot more clients enjoy authenticity over clean minimal designs, and you do a lot of that type of work. Why do you think the market for hand drawn art has grown so much?

I think because it's so unique. Each piece of art is different as each artist has their own style. I think it's a nice break from the polished 3-D looks that we used to see in advertisements, commercials, etc. Almost anyone can do digital artwork these days with the millions of apps out there, but hand drawn art is more personal. In the graphic design world, trends are constantly shifting but it seems like hand drawn designs have stuck around for awhile. For every artist who enjoys it including me, I hope it sticks around forever.

Do you feel like this is kind of your style? 

I'm still learning what exactly my style is. I can say that I love to do hand drawings with a little mix of digital illustration. I sketch out a piece, scan it into my computer, manipulate it a little through Adobe Photoshop, and then finish it in Adobe Illustrator.

...And what inspires your art?

Mostly artists I follow, life events, and music.

Any favorite artist? How about illustrators?

I have so many favorites. The main one I can think of is Chris Piascik. He's the first ever illustrator I began following when I was just becoming more confident in my art. When I saw his art, I thought to myself, wow...this is what I want to do. His art is imperfect but it's so awesome and he just makes it his own. He has a style and he has a certain look that I like. He inspired me to find mine. There's Chris Piascik and then there's Rhianna Wurman aka Ellolovey on Instagram and Etsy. Her art is so adorable and she is such a lovely human being, I can't help but admire everything she does which also made a huge impact in me finding my style as well. 

It might be silly, but I have to ask... What's you favorite and most hated color?

I love Black! I know that's not really a color though so if I had to pick one I'd say teal, and I hate all things orange.

Some designers have a weird design process. Any quirky facts about yours?

I have to listen to music while I draw or work. I love music almost as much as I love art, so if I'm not listening to music while I work sometimes I feel like I'm not doing my best. I think it's because I think a lot and music helps me focus. It also channels my emotions depending on what I listen to. 

You have quite a bit of freelance work don't you? Many designers struggle finding clients, how do you find yours?

Mostly word of mouth. I'm blessed to have great friends who do amazing things like photography, own hair salons, and who are just so anxious to share my art with other people because they love it that much. It usually starts with them. I started up an etsy shop and I post a lot of my work on social media as much as possible. Hashtags will become your best friend if you're trying to reach out to people on social media. As far as finding freelance, I've heard of some really cool websites out there that are specifically made for artists looking for freelance. One that I know of for sure is

Are you currently working on something?

I'm currently working on wedding invitations for a friend of mine, 2 tattoo designs for 2 different people, and Christmas projects that I'll be giving away as gifts. 

Any future plans you look forward to? Any short term goals?

I look forward to growing more as an artist. I'm always learning new techniques. Wherever that leads me, I'm sure I'll enjoy it. My short term goal would be to find time in my day to do a small doodle. I kind of lost that since I've been so busy working on other things for people. I don't want to lose me-time completely. 

Well, THANK YOU THANK YOU for taking the time to share all this awesome information with me, I am sure a lot of designers will find it helpful and inspiring. Any last advice you can give them? 

Be yourself and don't compare your art to other artist's. One of my art professors once told me, "Art doesn't have to be perfect." It has stuck with me and I tell myself that each time I get insecure with my art or mess up on a piece. If you're a perfectionist like me, this will be a good reminder as well because it will help save you a little time. - haha.