Today’s artist spotlight features Ashley Begley of Ashley D Studio. For my fellow fans of Sarah Flint, Ashley is the artist behind the Hidden Garden Scarves. She also spent time working for another well known brand known for their bright and happy prints, Lily Pulitzer. During her time at Lily she worked on the print design team where she had the opportunity to paint all of the patterns and bring along her own signature fine art twist.
When asked about when she first decided to start her own brand, Ashley shared about creating her own wedding invitations, and being inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit she observed when she lived in San Francisco. Ashley now makes her home in her new adopted city of Charleston, SC and I’m looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next.
When did you first become interested in art?
I was always interested since I was 4. I knew I wanted to do something in the art world. I used to take a lot of art classes outside of school and pre-college programs. I went to RISD. So that’s all art all day long which was great. I loved it.
I majored in graphic design and dabbled in textile and printmaking and that kind of brought me to my first job working for Lily Pulitzer. I worked for their print design team for 8 years where I had the opportunity to paint all of the patterns and it meshed all of my knowledge with a fine art twist. I wasn’t your typically graphic art designer, I was more about fine art but it ended up working really well.
Tell me about the mediums you use for your work.
I use a lot of watercolor inks by Dr. PH Martin as well as Gouache and India ink. That’s pretty much it.
You studied and graduated from RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) with a BFA in Graphic Design. What was one of the biggest takeaways from your time there?
I had the best time there! I would say that my biggest take away was that I was not going to be a graphic designer. That in and of itself is a great takeaway and is valuable, because you’ve figured out what you don’t want to persue.
I got a great background in typography and composition. It’s what I applied now to my stationary and wedding design. It’s a combination of watercolor fluidity/whimsy in combination with typography/structure.
You interned at Lily Pulitzer before officially joining the team to work as assistant designer and then designer for the print & pattern department. What has been the best part of the experience working for a brand known for their bright & bold prints?
It was really fun to work for Lily. We didn’t really follow that many trends on the market. The Lily customer really knows what she wants. So that was really cool to push forward with the signature look that the brand is known for, bright and happy. It was fun not having to adhere to market trends.
When did you first decided to found your brand Ashley D Studio?
When my husband proposed, I decided to do my own invitations. It made me realize that I missed working small on stationary and having the chance to combine watercolor with typography. I missed the conceptual aspect. So, after my wedding I went part time with Lily Pulitzer and then my husband and I moved to Colorado and I went with my brand full time.
The beginning of wanting to go out on my own really got its start when I lived in San Francisco for awhile, that pushed me to do my own thing. It’s the land of entrepreneurs and everyone is working towards building their own lines. I wanted to be a part of that. I want to have my name on something.
What do you consider to be your greatest source of inspiration?
It used to be travel.. I would still say travel or going to museums and not necessarily seeing work that relates to mine. I like to see brush strokes and mark making. The subtleties in that inspires me.
Through Ashley D Studio you create custom designs and stationary. What do you enjoy the most about creating unique designs?
I like the aspect of chatting with the client and seeing what they are into and having a causal conversation and honing in on quirky details. I try to bring out the funky in them when I talk about branding. Where did you meet and inside story unique to that couple.
For one bride artichokes where a big thing between her and her fiancé, so we incorporated that throughout her design. For Sarah Flint it was bunnies, so we hid three bunnies in the scarf print.
Tell me about a typical day in the studio.
It’s usually emails in the morning. I don’t normally get to all of them in the morning, but I can’t switch my mind from admin to creative as easily as I’d like. I tend to toggling back and forth between painting and admin days.
Sometimes you have off drawing days. You could work for 8 hours and nothing is really what you were hoping for, and then you could work for 4 hours and get 10 projects done.
What is one of the most challenging projects you’ve worked on so far?
There have been individual bride projects that have taken awhile because the brides have specific vision for how they want it to look. There have been 4-5 times where we didn’t hit the nail on the head. I work with their words and descriptions to create the project.
I most recently did a line with Ariel and Chasing Paper to create wallpaper and that’s coming out soon. It was challenging but Ariel is so fun to work with. She conveyed everything very easily. That was the most challenging and the largest project that I’ve taken on.
You collaborated with Sarah Flint to create the gorgeous Hidden Garden scarves featuring whimsical florals, butterflies, and three hidden bunnies. What were your primary sources of inspiration for the design?
I would say just chatting with Sarah how she wanted it botanical and with an English countryside feel, and she love bunnies so we hid three in the scarves. I asked her what flowers she was into and she gave me inspo images with vintage Gucci and Pucci which are major sources of inspiration for both of us and we built it out from there.
A lot of my work has a signature look to it, which I would like to continue with, so it’s not that you know what you’re going to get, but you know the design realm that will be perused.
In addition to working with Sarah Flint, you’ve also done a custom stationary event for Dior and Lycette Designs. What is the best part about in person events?
They are so much fun. I like to chat a lot so it is so much fun meeting clients and talking to them about why they like the stationary and what they are drawn to. It’s fun getting to know the clients. I have so much working together with Jessica at Lycette Designs, her store is fantastic and I’ve developed quite the needlepoint obsession.