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Character Study: Ashley Longshore

Character Study: Ashley Longshore

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Known for her opinionated and colorful works of celebrity and fashion icons, pop artist Ashley Longshore continues to evoke inspiring and provocative pieces for the world to talk about. Felix caught up with Longshore to talk about her collections, her collaborations, and the icons she paints. We couldn’t help but fall a little in love with the feisty, sailor-mouthed woman behind the paint brush!

Christina Rosas Anastasiou: You have collaborated with some major brands. What was the creative process like for you working with Chloé and Anthropologie? Is there another collaboration in the works?
Ashley Longshore: Chloé was fast and furious. I created the painting to be unveiled at Art Basel at the Soho House 2012. It was fun. It was a fun job to create a piece that represented the last 60 years of their brand. My Anthropologie collaborations are so much fun; they are so amazing to work with. They have sent me all over the world doing fun projects. I have been collaborating with them for over 4 years now. We have some really, really fun exciting new goodies coming out this fall and spring of next year! I love collaborations with big brands. My dream is Louis Vuitton. I would also love to do a collaboration with a champagne brand, like Moët. Who knows, maybe something will pop up with them.

CRA: Do you feel that art these days is making an impact on pop culture, or is it vice versa?
AL: Of course, the art is making an impact. This is like what came first, the chicken or the egg? An artist’s job is to let the world inside of their brain. I am influenced and inspired by the world around me. I am only successful as an artist when you can see my thoughts in the art, my original interpretation. I am influenced by what is around me, and then the viewer is in turn inspired by what I create. It is like wondering if the sperm is more important than the egg.

CRA: What reactions have you received from pop culture icons about your work? Do you think Anna Wintour, who you’ve painted amidst some colorful phrases, doesn’t say the F-word because it is considered unladylike behavior?
AL: I have some amazing celebrity collectors who love my work and keep coming back for more. Who said the F-word is unladylike? I challenge that. I can use words however I like. I am a sensitive person and have great respect for different religions, races, and politics, but the F-word is not offensive. I see and hear offensive things on the news all the time, but for me the F-word is just four letters that sound really great spoken at any volume! In my world, the F-word is the only word Anna uses.

CRA: Well then, F-yeah! Any chance of a pop-up art exhibition soon?
AL: Oh yes! Oh yes, yes! We had an exhibition in NYC right after fashion week [2013] called “Fashionably Late: A Post-Fashion Week Pop-Up Gallery,” because… is there any other way to be? We did it on the 60th floor of a penthouse at the Langham Residences at 400 Fifth Avenue. The apartment is empty, currently on sale for $17 million dollars, and a completely blank slate for me to showcase my art. I was so excited!

CRA: Is your “New York Whisper” painting, which features the phrase “Be quiet!” with your subject peering over the top of a turtleneck sweater, a reference to the mundane, yet crazy life of New Yorkers, or to Andy Warhol?
AL: (laughs) So funny that you chose this one. This is a portrait of a very good friend of mine who lives in NYC! She has a little girl and an English husband who is a big wig in the finance world. She has a little miniature Doberman Pinscher that barks constantly. When they commissioned me to do this, it was an expression of a quiet moment in a wild, noisy world. It is hanging right by the elevator entrance to their badass apartment in Chelsea. They have about eight other pieces of mine as well. They hosted an incredible art party for me in the city a few years ago. My art really has nothing to do with Andy Warhol. He was a pop artist, and so am I. I love his work and love that he was such an incredible businessman. I actually had a show last year where my art was paired with his and I hired an Andy Warhol look-alike to be my date. It was so much fun! Comparing me to Warhol is like comparing all chocolate to Hershey’s. There are lots of different chocolates all within the chocolate genre. However, it is what is. Pop art is pop art.

CRA: Your collection “The Trophy Wives” could be interpreted as a pointed commentary on a particular lifestyle. Do you think our society glamorizes trophy wives, thanks to pop culture shows like “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills?”
AL: Trophy wives are fascinating. I am really intrigued by these different roles of women in modern society. I love trophy wives, and they are for sure some of the prettiest women you will ever meet. I have yet to meet a truly blissfully happy one. I am searching for that.

CRA: In your “Fashion Icons” series, it seems that underneath the fashion etiquette of these icons, lies a humor that we may not know about. Do you know something about these icons that we don’t know? Do you have a funny story about any of these icons that you can give the scoop on?
AL: The humor in these pieces is my own spin on pop culture. My own interpretation of what happens in these icons’ lives. I have ideas, and wait until something makes me laugh out loud and then I paint exactly what I see in my mind. I have spent some time with celebrities, but there will be no kissing and telling. That ain’t cool. I feel lucky that cool people respond to my work. I have the best clients in the whole world. They love color, beauty and humor. They love fashion. They work hard and have fun friends and beautiful homes. Every time someone buys a piece of my art, I feel like they’ve adopted a piece of my soul. It is a bond for me. They live with a thought from my brain hanging on their wall. It is an intimate process.

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CRA: That’s amazing, would you consider doing a performance art collaboration the way Marina Abramović did with Jay-Z?
AL: Yes. I love performance art. I love Marina. I have actually always used other people to represent what I wanted to say in my work. I think it’s my turn to be Marina. I need to come out of my comfort zone and make myself the performance artist and not just the director. It is a very mentally overwhelming thing to let go of all insecurities and use your body as an art canvas. It is scary enough to put your inner thoughts on display. It is a rush and thrilling and tickles my soul, but releasing all fear of my body and really connecting with a crowd through art performance is a another layer of the cake.

CRA: Would you consider yourself a pop culture icon?
AL: Oh lord, I cannot think of myself like that. Being creative is also about being humble and being in a state of absorbing the environment around me. If I think I am a pop icon, and all I think of is me, then there is no new or fresh material. I have to travel and constantly be in a state of study. I have to shut up and listen, open my eyes and look. I am a sponge. I think I have a humorous take on pop culture in America. I am one woman with a unique perspective.

CRA: How do you feel about internet artists and .gifs (simple web-produced animations)?
AL: I love, love, love .gifs. I use them constantly when I text. Words are not enough. I am visual and can really express myself to fullest impact with images. I am obsessed with the Internet artist from Hilarious! Everyone has a creative side, but needs to find the correct tool to express it. Modern technology makes that easier for some people. Life is so beautiful when you find your inner voice! It is gorgeous when you can show it to
other people.

CRA: Graffiti art is taking over the walls of major cities, would you venture out into that medium?
AL: Sure, I don’t rule out any creative medium of expressing myself. Although, right now I am obsessed with animation, claymation and using digital technology to express my creative whimsy. Painting is just the beginning. With modern technology, my options as an artist are limitless! This is a very exciting time to be in my line of work.

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