ASHTON SHAW DESPOT

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Being a creative person is not an easy job. Many artists don’t have the confidence, or support to continue with their art, and a lot of them quit at early stages of their development. I always find it fascinating when I see artists that overcome that hump of mistaken beliefs and go for it. Most of the time it has to do with exposure and being inspired by someone or something that you can’t ignore. It is no mellow road, we all have to start somewhere, and putting ourselves out there gives us vulnerability to be criticized as well as acclaimed. So be brave, and “Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.” Don’t be afraid, know that you have a gorgeous and huge community of people that want to help. We were all helped once by someone, and like my professor used to say: You gotta give back. This is my way of giving back. Giving you exposure to others, and showing you that it can be done. Just stay connected with your heart, and persevere.

My featured artist, this time, is Ashton Shaw Despot. Ashton is a very inspiring impressionist painter based in New Orleans. Her paintings caught my eye while I was researching for home decor. Her work communicates in mysterious ways I have to say. They are bold, yet soft in a soothing way. They evoke nature, emotion, freshness, and a harmonic balance of color and weight. There is something nostalgic about them, actually more dreamlike. Her use of light is exquisite and her bold short strokes showcase her spirit and passion for what she does. Her work appeals to me in many ways, and I hope it does to you too. I knew I had to ask her for an interview once I discovered her work.

this is Ashton Shaw Despot From South Louisiana. Last child of three.

How did you know you wanted to be an artist Ashton? 

I knew at a young age that I wanted to create something beautiful for the world. I have always been fascinated by the delicate beauty all around us. But it took some time and encouragement for me to explore art as a career. I was first challenged in high school by two amazing teachers. They put the bug in my ear to make it a career and the drive in my heart to live life passionately.  In college I studied graphic design, but always took painting and sculpture classes as my electives. My painting and drawing teachers influenced me immensely and I am thankful for their critics and patience. But it wasn’t until I studied art in Ireland for a month that I knew I could make it as an artist. I created more than 30 pieces while I was there and I had gained excitement and joy like never before. 

Ireland WOW! Im so jelly… So how does it work? Tell me a bit about your creative process. Walk me through it.

My creative process changes with each project and I try to let everything develop organically. In college my professors would always stress “trust the process” which meant you had to explore and develop your ideas. Skipping steps never made the work better in fact it was quite the opposite. I usually make binders with inspiration photos including colors and compositions. I use a plethora of photos and sketches to come up with the final composition. It can change drastically too depending on the day or the mood I am in.

Do you search for inspiration? Does it come to you?

I search for inspiration in a number of ways just as the meaning of the word “search” expresses. I gather photos from life, magazines, books, Pinterest, Instagram etc. Honestly, I’m kind of a hoarder of images! If I am organized enough, I take these photos and categorize them in folders. Then, when I am working on a project that might have the particular subject matter, I pull the file. I also have files on my computer and in Dropbox. It is actually quite an organized mess. It works for me though. Then, when I am working on the piece, I let it develop organically. I often turn the painting several times to ensure the piece is balanced. I use the drips of water to determine shapes, and I don’t worry about it looking exactly as I had pictured it in my head. 

Your work is heavily inspired by pastel, and blue color schemes. Is that part of your aesthetic?

I love blues and greens. I think they are soothing and natural. I am most inspired by landscapes so it seems fitting to capture the colors of lush foliage, water and the sky above. I am also very intrigued by light and how it dances on the ground. I love pops of light pink and peach to express a warm glow. I hope my work feels dreamlike and warm, and I think soft colors work best in achieving this goal. 

A lot of artists never put their work out there because they feel it isn’t finished. How do you know a piece is done?

Honestly, a piece is never done. But sometimes you are happy with what you achieved in that moment.

You seem to be a pretty positive person, is there a personal or professional motto you live by?

I live by the words of Confucius. “Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.”

The artist road isn’t an easy one. Surely, there are some things you’ve learned along the way you can share with us?

The biggest lesson I have learned in life is that nothing can be planned. You will think you have it all figured out and something always surprises you. You must learn to be fluid like water and go with the flow of life. Enjoy everything you can, but also don’t be afraid to feel sadness and worry as they are just as real as any other feeling. 

In moments of self doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?

I turn to my friends and family. I have an amazing support system that builds me up constantly.  

Is there someone, in particular, you look up to?

I look up to my dear friend Amanda Judice. She was good listener, extremely kind and accepting. She had strong roots in faith and family, and lived in the moment always looking for the good in every situation.

What advice would you give other creatives trying to make it as an artist?

Follow your heart and never stop exploring. Get Up, Show Up, and Do Good Work. 

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Thank you Ashton for your words, and we wish you the best pursuing this road. Inquiries about Ashton paintings can be made on her website: http://ashtonshawdespot.com

ARTIST HIGHLIGHT

"Keep your eyes open" is probably one of the smartest things to keep in mind as a designer. Inspiration isn't just in books, websites, or blogs, but around us. Sometimes it is hidden, some other times on your face! This is why working in an inspiring environment it's so important. I am lucky to work with a bunch of people that inspire me daily, and I have been blessed to meet incredibly talented artists. One of them is Jon Benson. We started working together a couple of years ago and became friends pretty soon after that. I have learned so much from him, and I am so proud of how much he has grown as a designer. I have been lucky to witness his growth and I am truly impressed with his work. I have been wanting to feature him here for a while and I am glad he finally agreed to have breakfast and talk about his lettering art and process. Hope you find him interesting and learn something new. :)

So, Why lettering?

Well, mainly demand. Hobby Lobby needed some type layouts, and they were everywhere; so they steered me into it. But I have grown in it, and I am really liking it. I think mainly because lettering its a good blend of art expression and structure. Type layouts are objective solutions to a design problem; there is a correct way of doing lettering; but at the same time, it is a subjective expression of words.

What about your process? How does it work? Where does it start?

Hmmm.. First of all, there have to be two conditions for me to start a project: motivation and inspiration. If I don't feel like making anything, then I don't. I have to cook an idea in my head, and actively look for inspiring art. I follow other artists and they push me to do more work, or not. hahah. It's like when you are running and you see other people running, then you feel like part of a community. But if you aren't running, then you feel...well, not so good. But coming back to my process, after I have both conditions, I do some thumbnails and proceed which the one I like the most. Sometimes they look like garbage and I erased them, and that's its ok! Some other times I don't need to do more than one thumbnail, and it ends up looking great! So it depends I guess. 

What type of inspiration do you look for? 

Different kinds actually. For a long time I was inspired by this podcast called "You made it weird," by Pete Holmes; his honesty and how personal it got inspired me to illustrate some quotes from his podcasts. Music is always a good source of inspiration and other artists of course, such as Tobias Saul. His lettering compositions are great, especially layout wise. 

Any recommendations for newbies? 

Mainly, this. "If you aren't making anything, you aren't moving in the right direction." Keep doing it! Intentionally make the effort to be better, obviously enjoy the path; but know that your style will evolve. Don't make it hard on yourself, as long as you are creating you are good! Look forward to it, motivation it's a necessity. Remember effortless doesn't exist, start simple; but always find where your next step is. Be critical, no one will criticize your work better than yourself. Don't compare yourself to others but to your own, if you see good work, be happy for that person; they probably put a ton of effort and it paid off, so compliment them. You are on the same team. We are a community.

Any Don't do it advice?

hahaha... Yes. Know that there are standards, and they are important. If you are gonna take a picture of your work, make sure it isn't a crappy one. Use good lighting!! A bad picture does not showcase your work right. Photo edit! You have total control of how you are perceived in social media. Filter what you post, if it does not look awesome, then don't post it! Quality over quantity, always. 

Talking about social media...You have 89 posts and 3834 followers and counting!....That is amazing! 

(Smile) Thanks! I am a hashtag whore. HAHA.. Exposure is based on tag cloud, so start using hashtags! :) Also remember process is popular. Allow people to see behind the curtain and show your process; they will prefer to see step 1 to 5 than step 5 only.  

Great to know!! So what is next for you? What are you working on?

Ligatures.. Not so good at them right now, so that is my next improvement goal. 

Jon Benson currently works at a Liquidfish, and his work has been featured by Typism and Designspiration. You can follow him on Instagram and purchase his prints on Society6. 

ARTIST HIGHLIGHT

Let's be honest for a moment here, and admit we all feel like we can tackle DIY projects like Joanna and Chip Gaines after watching a couple of episodes on Fixer Upper...The truth is that half of the time they turn terribly wrong...at least in my case. I have been wanting to fix my end tables for a while now but let's just say that after trying my hands around wood I gave up. Luckily for me, a friend from work recommended me to contact Cash, and So I did! He probably thought I was nuts, considering I sent him a giant email with what I had in mind, but he accepted to work with me; and here I am, ecstatic to share what a genius he is! His work is truly admirable, from wall art to furniture his style is tasteful and timeless. I can see his work in every hipster, rustic or art lovers home. His art pieces are a must have and they should go right into your wish list. I know for a fact I will be doing a coffee table next! :) This is why I decided to ask him some question about his process and get a quick inside into his mind! If you haven't heard from him already... make sure to check his work ASAP! 

http://www.cashwheeler.com/  | https://www.instagram.com/cashwheeler/

  •  So, how did you start working with wood, bold patterns and furniture?

About two years ago I bought a miter saw to work on the house we had bought. Somewhere along the way, I decided to make a coffee table with some scrap wood laying around our garage. I posted it on Instagram and received a great response. I got a few commissions from that one design and just picked everything up from there.

The patterns and overall aesthetic I aim for really come from my pursuit to separate myself from being a “woodworker.” I try not to call myself a woodworker and I just don’t think I’m deserving of the title. I really use wood as a medium for visual stimulation. I make some practical pieces such as coffee tables and record shelves but my priority for each piece is always the visual effect. The pattern.

  • Do you have a routine or have you found a distinct design process?

I want to be a “process” person so bad. It would make everything I do a lot less complicated.  I am incredibly impatient. I wish I could sit and design something top to bottom and know where each piece was going to end up. That’s just not me. Unless someone requests a design illustration, the whole thing goes straight from my head to the wood. That being said, I do usually have a pretty clear(ish) idea of what I want to see in the end. 

  • Most of your work start from just material... you shape it and work it and somehow it becomes something beautiful...What do you enjoy most about making something from scratch?

The feeling I get from seeing something come to fruition that previously only existed in my mind can’t be replicated through any other means. I’ve been creating or dreaming up designs for as long as I can remember. My parents put a very “DIY” attitude in me from a young age. I grew up drawing/painting. It was hard for me to pay attention to any guidance because I just wanted to see how it came together with my own hands. As a teenager, I got into playing and producing music. This always kept me around artistic people which would constantly lead me to new adventures in making. I even had a very small clothing business my first year of college. My mom taught me how to sew a little and we would sew cloth cutouts onto t-shirts and purses.

  • I know this might be a challenging question, but  where does your inspiration come from?

It’s hard to put a point on that. It can be really abstract sometimes. It can honestly come from just about anywhere. I know I’ve pulled design ideas from plant life, mountains, stones, street signs, and album covers just to name a few. The internet is abundant with creative ideas. The Instagram community always leads me to someone I can pull inspiration from. 

Everything I make really comes down to lines and tone. Lines and patterns mostly come from the natural world like I mentioned before but tone and color are always a large part of a piece. When it comes to tone I really sway between subtlety and contrast. Most people seem to be drawn heavily to contrast. The juxtaposition of two disparate tones can be very striking but there’s something about subtlety and nuance that have always hooked me.  Some of my favorite pieces only have slight tonal variations or have a graduated color shift. In addition to the natural wood tones, I’ve started to add a variety of colors to some of my new pieces. Wes Anderson is always my biggest inspiration when I think about color palette.

  • Any favorite artist?

For someone who enjoys creating and is involved with the artistic world to some degree, I’m really bad about studying or following art. I’ve really been that way my whole life. I didn’t care about the proper technique to hold a pencil. I just wanted to draw. I grew up playing almost every sport that was accessible. I never really enjoyed watching sports. This all probably links back to my short attention span and impatience. (haha) I’ll always refer back to Wes Anderson when it comes to art though.

  • How would you describe your style in 3 words? 

Natural, Movement, Balance. (This was by far the hardest question to answer.)

  • Well, thank you so much for willing to share your design process with me, I am sure a lot of people will want to buy something from you, so where can we buy your art? What is the best way to reach you for a custom design?

Custom work is almost the only way to get anything from me these days. It would be fun to keep some select products stocked at local stores, but I’ve been mostly focused on creating larger one-of-a-kind pieces. That being said, you can see a few of my wall panels in the Just OK store in Blue Seven and occasionally catch me at a local market. I’ll be at the Powerhouse Flea on May 7 if anyone wants to come see some of the new things I’ve been working on. 

For custom orders, you can reach me at: cashwheelerokc@gmail.com

IMAGE SOURCE: 

All images copyrighted to Cash Wheeler.

Lisa Congdon | Artist & Illustrator

One of the reasons why I started blogging and decided to keep doing so has a lot do with the satisfaction of discovering and sharing. I get excited about many things, and finding awesome people that inspire me is one of them. This week is Lisa Congdon. This super cool and positive woman came to me through a book called "Whatever You Are, Be a Good One" (100 Inspirational Quotations Hand-Lettered by Lisa Congdon) I found her book at Target and thought Hmm...I might keep this.. and so I did! Her selection of quotes was excellent, and her style was so different and eclectic.. Something I haven't seen much of lately. When I looked her up, I found out she is actually a big deal! Her clients range from MOMA!!!, Harvard University!!!, The Land of Nod, Martha Stewart Living, I mean.. BIG DEAL! and her website is so cute full of random illustrations on the corners, just full of life. Turns out she had a late start in art, which I found surprising considering how young she looks! but oh well! Didn't matter to her, she is super successful and full of life. Her work is bright, fun and so friendly! She has a shop online, books, wallpaper, gift wrap, prints, and a ton more... Make sure to check her out and read her blog. I read a couple of her posts, and I just love how honest and humble she sounds. She is inspiring in many ways. 

-Roberta Einer-

Design patterns have been predominantly my new focus for the last month, and it is always refreshing finding designers that inspire me to keep pushing art to be the best it can be. This past week I found a piece that really spoke to me. I have to say I am not a fan of wearing embroidery, but when I see something that blows my mind, I have to brag about it :) One of Roberta Einer's pieces popped up on my Pinterest feed and for some reason it spiked my curiosity to dig even further. As a result, I felt in love with her style. Her pieces are ambitious and it would be an understatement to say impressive. She just graduated from Westminster University in 2015, and she already has experience working with brands such as Balmain, Roksanda Illincic, Alexander McQueen & Mary Katrantzou! Roberta is originally from Estonia, but moved to England to study fashion design; surprisingly enough, even before she graduated, she landed a job at Balmain in Paris, right before her first debut at the London Fashion Week with her spring collection. According to Roberta, her "aesthetic was minimal and monochrome," but Balmain gave her the courage to really go for it. The results: a GENIUS collection inspired by traditional Slavic embroidery, weave, knit techniques, and Soviet poster graphics; also, at a later stage, influenced by USA's and Soviet's teen culture. I really enjoy her color palette, it is mainly soft colors but, on the contrary, it showcases boldness and fun! Hope you find her work as awesome as I think it is! :)

IMAGE SOURCE: ©2015 Roberta Einer | http://www.robertaeiner.com/