FA: Tell us your name and which neighborhood you call home?
Ashley: My name is William Ashley Anderson and I live in Edgewood at present.
FA: How long have you lived in Atlanta? Where did you originate?
Ashley: I have been in Atlanta just over 5 years now. I moved to Atlanta after living in Savannah for about a year. I was raised about 2.5 hours southeast of Atlanta in the cities of Tennille and Sandersville, the latter being the Kaolin Capitol of the World and the birthplace of Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam.
FA: What's your favorite food/drink spot?
Ashley: I’m not the biggest drinker by any stretch of the animation; I like for my head to be right when I’m arting, which is almost all the time. However, I am forming a bond with Sister Louisa's CHURCH of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium and Manuel’s Tavern. I like both for their space and interior decoration (visual person here, hi) and I like how Manuel’s is slowly phasing out smoking and Church has restricted it to outside. No offense smokers, I just hate coming home reeking.
Foodwise, I love the Majestic, first and foremost; I am easily found there drinking sweet tea and sketching a few nights out of the week. I also really love Hankook Korean taqueria, Luqma Indo-Pak in Decatur, and the Dekalb Farmer’s Market. FA: How did you get started as an artist?
Ashley: As a child I was really fidgety and impatient, a quality which did not lend itself well to family dinners out. I would walk around talking to other tables and by the time we left dinner everyone would be saying “Bye Ashley!”. I was the same way at a public pool; ladies loved lil’ Ashley. I just found out from my mom that a lot of the time dad would take me out to the parking lot while we waited on food and just let me run around in circles. Yep, there you go.
After a while my dad figured out he could keep me in one place by challenging me to drawing contests on the placemats.
Eventually I started carrying a notepad everywhere with me, that was around the age of 5 or 6. I still have every sketchpad, the count’s between 200 and 300 at this point I’m pretty sure. As for Art with an A, I majored in painting in college with the intent of going to grad school to be an illustrator, but thanks to the intervention of my professors at Georgia Southern I was turned onto the capacity of visual art to depict ideas greater than popular narratives. I was really enthralled by the possibility of making work that corresponded directly with ideas which interested me and existing work I admired. When you work, you are producing history to some degree, building on what already is, at least ideally. That’s an awesome opportunity.I still do illustrationy stuff, draw plenty of Cthulhus, but my heart is with being able to talk with Matisse, Johns, and the rest of the gang by making things which are more esoteric, coded, and quiet.FA: Try and describe the creative process?
Ashley: Constant failure met with constant love or devotion. Investment of time, thought, and material applied with a grasp on the historical context within which one has chosen to operate inside of or against, which might be the same thing? Also I must offer up an incredible quote by Robert Fripp: “Comfort is death”. And Richard Serra: “Work comes from work”. People who gush about inspiration are quite figuratively inspired, i.e. full of wind. Get to work!
FA: What are some of the things that inspire you?
Ashley: I never can answer this quite right. Different portions of my output have different sources of inspiration. First and foremost I guess the ability of any creative person to enter direct conversation with any and all related work is very energizing for me. I love to look at art in person; screens, not even books don’t get you anywhere close to the direct experience of work. I love museums, just got back from a weeklong trip to NYC to see shows at the Guggenheim, MoMA, and the Met. I love the Met. There’s so much work to see and so many differently designed spaces in there. I could crawl into a corner of their warm/dimly lit Japanese section and just sleep forever.
The arbitrary relationships between disparate objects turn my brain on pretty well. I love to draw people and wish I did more of it. Bugs are always fascinating. I like to hear or read other artists talking about their own processes and it’s always funny to see how differently working artists from different periods all seem to say similar things about work. Doing good art for others. Learning new processes. Impressing womenfolk. Musicians inspire me because of the correspondence on some level between what they do versus what a painter does.
FA: If you had to describe your art how would you do it?
Ashley: As far as my Art goes, it would be “art using imagery from video games made by someone who basically never plays video games but finds correlations between game imagery and art theory and history”. I’m attracted to imagery from games because it corresponds to the qualities of paintings I enjoy, i.e. solid areas of color which retain a figurative/representational aspect. I also recognize the imagery’s ability to refer to things outside of gaming while retaining a reference to the digital, artificial, and playful. There’s also a resemblance/reference to painters like Klee, Dali, Lichtenstein, Close, and, more locally, Anita Arliss!
For my illustration work it would be “art that has finally recognized itself as pure surrealist mental collage in drawn form”. Sewing machines and umbrellas gettin’ busy on that dissecting table... aw yeah. This work is largely created through automatic drawing initiated by staring at tabletops or floors and waiting for my brain to attempt making sense at the non-information it’s being fed. There’s also an element of improvisation entering to fill in gaps between certain images within a piece; usually the linkages built are funny and sinister.
FA: How do you feel about the art culture in Atlanta?
Ashley: It’s way more robust than when I first moved here. There’s so many people doing so many things which satisfy so many audiences and intents. Growing pains persist, but by their nature they indicate growth! After my recent weeklong trip to NYC, my third in fact, I am very pleased to be based in Atlanta. I say this because NYC has incredible cultural opportunities, but it also can place incredible pressure on one to simply survive, thereby subverting the much-romanticized opportunities. This is one thing I gathered from conversations I had with many of my NYC friends, artists and not. I still love NYC, but I wonder now whether I could live there and be as free to make things as I am here? My perspective is still very limited, since Atlanta is only the 4th city I’ve lived in. Even if I never live in NYC, I will continue visiting because the variety and quality of art available for study is unbelievable and hard to match.
That being said, I think all of us in Atlanta are onto something quite good. When I moved here in 2007, there was no Dashboard Co-op, no Living Walls, no gloATL, no Wonder Root, no possible Futures. Also, we didn’t yet have folks like Nikita Gale, Nathan Sharrat, Paper Twins, Plastic Aztecs, Jessica Caldas, Jason Kofke, Chris Chambers, Erin Palovick, Rebecca Hanna, etc etc setting up their home bases here. All of these entities and individuals have converged here in the last half decade. I’m sorry, are you kidding me? That’s ridiculous! In the best way!
I would also like to take a moment to congratulate the currently enrolled Georgia State/SCAD/etc. students I see engaging the art scene outside of their classes. I’m simultaneously jealous of the opportunities they have BUT far far prouder of them for going the extra mile and being professionals before they even get out of school. Hopefully you folks know who you are and I want you to know you are doing it fucking right as rain. Love y’all, you inspire me!
FA: Do you feel like it’s easier to be a big fish in a small pond here because of the city’s size?
Ashley: I think it’s easier here to simply be a fish. This is the first city I’ve lived in that actually has an art scene. I moved here from Savannah, which was a tremendous disappointment to me in terms of existing emerging arts culture. You’d think that with SCAD sprawling over the city like an octopus there’d be some kind of art scene, but when I was there it was next to nothing, save for lots of “nice” realist painting and innocuous, decorative “abstraction”. When I first moved here, I went to a show at the Gallery at East Atlanta Tattoo, a robot art show I recall. Tiny show that it was, it blew away any homespun show I’d seen in Savannah. It’s been uphill since, and I am so jazzed to see the range of age, experience, background, media, and content represented in our city.
Something I’ve been wondering to myself recently is all of us fish need to remember the existence of other ponds, “Wetter water, slimier slime” as Rupert Brooke might say 🙂 (Brooke’s poem “Heaven”: http://holyjoe.org/poetry/
brooke2.htm) That is, be not satisfied to dwell in your own pond, but send your spawn a’spreadin’! Put down roots, but spread branches and drop your fruits far and wide. /poetry
I also like Atlanta because it allows me to be active as an artist while remaining near my family. We recently lost my grandmother very suddenly, and of course an experience that jarring and awful and sad makes you reassess your intentions. Several years ago I’d been considering moving to NYC and trying it out, but now I realize I would hate to be too far away from my family to, say, drive 2 hours and be there for them. That would kill me, I can’t let that be. Atlanta, thank you for being where you are. Good job!
FA: Has the community been receptive to your art?
Ashley: I think so! I get invited to plenty of opportunities to show work, selling some stuff on occasion, so someone must be interested in what I’m doing. I’m just sorry I haven’t produced more stuff than I have. There’s always a tension in me between the work I’ve done and the work I wish I’d finished by now, but that’s also a rather fruitless anxiety, so hell with it. Nope, it’s still there. I have found that if you are proactive and making work for yourself and not a specific show, people will sense that genuineness and want it to be a part of whatever they’re putting on. It just takes time. “Personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures”, something kind of like that?
FA: How did you get involved with Fallen Arrows?
Ashley: Originally I got involved through Mr. Mike Germon asking me to design a shirt for his blog Thought Marker. That design was a lot of fun to make because it marked an important shift in my process of creating symmetrical designs, which was using tracing paper and registration marks to incorporate more intricate components into the pieces, which had previously been completely eyeballed. I still enjoy looking at that image, but jeez I wish I’d know about clipping layers before I spent TWELVE HOURS coloring the thing!!!
The next thing I did with FA was a shirt for the Little Five Points Fest using a drawing I’d done for a show at Aurora in 2009. It was a funny little drawing poking fun at L5P. Again, I could do such a better job these days, but endlessly reinventing previous projects isn’t yet a part of my process 🙂 It’s still a cute drawing!
FA: Do you think it’s important to have a printing company like Fallen Arrows that offers an accessible platform for emerging artists?
Ashley: Yes. There’s a mystique which sometimes enshrouds the means of production, so when folks like Fallen Arrows make the process as accessible as they do, they give beginning artists a leg up to get their work produced and seen in a medium and price range that accommodates interested parties differently than more expensive, single items in a gallery setting. This is not to say either one is necessarily better, they just scratch different itches. Aw yeah.
FA: What are some of your favorite places to show your work?
Ashley: I really enjoyed showing work at Emily Amy Gallery, it was such a clean, sharp, sunlit space; pro as hell. I’m really digging the Youngblood/MINT synthesis (symbiosis?) and the shows they’ve put on so far have been solid, especially the recent show “Whim”. That is maybe the best show I have ever seen MINT put on, just completely ridiculous how beautiful and solid all that work is, all of it. Congratulations to that group of artists!
I also really enjoyed being in the Day Job: Georgia show at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. Again it was a beautiful, sharp, super-professional space. That show was a real milestone for a few Atlanta arts people too, I think. Just all of us in the same space, you know? Dashboard Co-op, Romy Maloon, Chris Chambers, Nikita Gale, Andy Moon Wilson, Matt Sigmon, etc. When we were setting up the show we would all look at each other with a “holy shit” look on all of our faces!
FA: I know that you are very interested in science and astronomy. So, can you tell us where babies come from?
Ashley: So there’s this series of rooms buried sideways in the ground all over the planet. Sitting at a small table positioned on what would normally be the kitchen window over the sink are two men. One is wearing a pinstriped suit with a tie around his waist and a belt around his neck. The other man is wearing a snuggie whereon is drawn Snoopy making out with a bowl of fruit. It might be printed, I can’t remember. So basically these men are playing cards but one is playing Egyptian Ratshit Slutchucks while the other is playing Solitaire; also the designation of who plays which game changes according to the time of month. Eventually, the man in the snuggie looks up from his card game at the man in the suit and mumbles “puh, puh, pretty”.
A veinous, throbbing lump forms on the suited man’s toe, travels to his knee at four weeks and turns purple while growing to the size of a big mac that’s been fed two five-dollar footlongs, then travels to his forehead and grows to obscure his entire face, which atrophies and sloughs off onto the floor. A small pearl inside the face-sack hatches, its cracking reminiscent of the nokia ringtone, and the baby which commences wears the face like a snuggie, eventually growing to full size in about a half hour and killing the adult snuggie wearer, eating the body and taking his place at the table. The adult snuggie is unharmed, for it is scared. I meant to type sacred, but scared is weirder.
Meanwhile and elsewhere, two people of presumably sound mind and intention have sex and in nine months a baby appears on their facebook.
FA: Where can people find you and/or buy your work?
Ashley: First and foremost, I have a flickr packed with my art: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pressstarttobegin/
I’m also on tumblr:
Aaaaaaand Society6: http://society6.com/
Thanks you guys!!!