Hi! I’m Ashley Johnson.
I'd say at my core, I'm more entrepreneurial than artistic. I truly admire work ethic and creative sacrifice—all the risks, trust and long hours inspire me, so it's one of my favorite things about being a creative. Whenever I've made a body of work, it's usually because I got a lightbulb moment at the success of someone else's really inspiring project. So, if I had to define myself, I'd say I'm a hard worker who also just so happens to be creative.
My mission statement?
One that embodies respect for the Earth and its inhabitants both living an non-living. A statement that encourages exploration and partnership, honesty and loyalty among friends being on the receiving end of yourself at all times.
It took me a long time to develop a support system. I'd say in the last three years, I've finally built a core network of supportive friends and family. Before these last few years, I was incredibly reliant on myself and that was both helpful and harmful. You truly do need someone who truly honest around you. I went to UNCG and I honestly wished I hadn't gone to any school. But I also realized that I there are some essential skills that I would not have developed had I not gone—skills I didn't get in a classroom. Essential survival skills, work ethic, learning programs and processes, being compulsively organized, leadership and how to email like a champion and get the things I want.
My day job entails contributing to an organization that manages state-funded behavioral health care. Behavioral Health embodies mental health, substance use, and intellectual/developmental disabilities. I work from home. So a typical day is waking up around 6:45 or 7:00 a.m., reading in the bath, a quick skincare run-through, making coffee or breakfast and feeding my cats. I hop on my computer and work until about 5:00 p.m. and I take periodic breaks to go to lunch, fill print orders, run errands or just sit and watch tv until the end of the workday. After work, I either get dinner started (I love to cook) or pick a restaurant and go out to dinner. Sometimes alone, sometimes with friends. I make a lot of weavings and handmade things so usually before the end of the day I'll sit down for a couple of hours to work on a few of those. It's my favorite time of day.
Creatively, I'm a photographer. I also support and create for small brands around the city but I don't advertise or share about that much. My fine arts portraits are usually conceptual so I don't pick up my camera until I'm ready to enliven an idea I've thought through. But I take photo jobs here and there to stay sharp. I feel like I'm constantly flowing in and out of different creative disciplines so day-to-day it looks different.
Right now my only challenge is my location and the small town mentality that comes with it. I love my city but for it to be the city of Arts and Innovation, they have a very narrow view of what the "Arts" portion of that tagline truly means. I could live anywhere but have a true passion for bringing unique experiences home. Hosting over 300 people for a free event I gave last week was proof that people want to see elevated work and have unforgettable experiences. I just need money, space, and for someone with "keys" to trust me.
I turned 31 a few weeks ago (a leo!) and I'm only now starting to care about goals. I hop from project to project and follow those threads and it's quite a strange exploration. But now I think I want to be so cool someone asks me to teach a college course. But I refuse to go back to college so we'll see.
I'm inspired by so many things and it fluctuates. Lately, I'm enamored by what I can build with Pinterest. I build boards that cover subjects like skin to skin contact between lovers, tactility/photos of hands, faceless portraits, close-ups of intricate painting details alongside precious stones, intentional and unintentional repitition—I think when people hear the word inspiration they think it's one lightbulb moment. But I think about all the things that lead to the light bulb moment as inspiration. A steady stream of incongruous and incomplete thoughts/images/textures culminating into a convergence. Almost like how our dreams are made of pieces, locations, intuitions and people we see day-to-day—and they manage to group into a strange narrative.
That's how I imagine inspiration. Except I'm awake.
This is going to sound incredibly vain, but I get all of my confidence from me—I didn't use to be that way though. I used to think I needed permission to make things because I thought, "well who do I think I am to have this idea"? But now, I concentrate entirely on making my work/building experiences for myself—then I turn around and share it. When I'm focusing entirely on what I think of the work, and I'm also working hard to give it life, I make the right choices every time. Confidence comes from not caring what anyone else thinks. And the only person I want to make happy with my finished product is myself.
I have such a range of people and personalities and people I admire! Oprah because she is such a whole woman. Guapdad4000 because I wish I could get away with that level of unabashed arrogance, and also, comedy aside, his persona is exactly who he is and I admire that. Myleik Teele because it's like looking in a mirror. She is no frills, entrepreneurial, and uses her success and platform to create the space/build experiences for black women that she never had. That's true entrepreneurship in my book. The Obamas: class, dignity, level-headed respect.
My favorite things:
Line drawings; before they were trendy.
Watching my plants grow. My grandma kept a lot of plants and she said that's why she loved having them—she loved watching them grow. Now that I have my own plants, I get it.
Every single window in my apartment.
Thayer's Rose Witch Hazel! It's a savior of a toner—and also M. Roze Essentials Face Beam moisturizer. Like, WOW.
Cookie Butter ice cream from Trader Joes. Lord hammercy.
I want to turn my home into a gallery for the year 2019. I want a boutique creative agency. I want to show work in lots of galleries around the country and have a home so big I can grow a tree in it. You know, small things. <3
Lately, my only advice is, "be on the receiving end of your product." Your product could be your art, your online presence, your in-person attitude—be on the receiving end of that. If you wouldn't want poor customer service, to be overlooked, poorly wrapped product, delayed correspondence, then don't be the person who gives those things.