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Conversations with Ashley Chew

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Chew.

Hi Ashley, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
My story starts with Art and continues with Art…I was born in Chicago, IL and raised in Indianapolis, IN. For as long as I can remember, I have been an Artist. As a toddler, my parents, grandparents, and godparents bought me art supplies as gifts. I loved the art sets with watercolors, markers and colored pencils that folded up into a briefcase. This progressed to cutting up Barbie clothes, I’d also cut up socks, old sheets, anything I could put my hands on. I never remember my parents being upset ever or being scolded for it. They let me be free. My family has always been supportive. I know many creatives who struggle with that with family and peers. Even in institutions, we are taught that creating isn’t a “real job”. Throughout my teen years and into college and attended Art School. There was nothing else I wanted to do. Aside from painting, I’ve dabbled in Ballet, Theatre, costume design, set design, Fashion Design, and more. But I have always been a Fine Artist. After school, I moved to New York, NY to pursue Fashion Media and ended up modeling. To this day, I model and paint full-time. My clients range from Illustration, Murals, Customization, Paint Commissions and Event pre-Covid restrictions. Typing this out, I feel so lucky to have lived such an extensive creative life already.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The challenges of being a creative along the way have really been external beliefs or distractions. I’ve always seen my future. As a child I said: I’m going to be an Artist and live in New York City”. There was no other plan. I knew I would have to take certain steps to get to this point but that was it. Growing up in a more conservative place, of course there were doubters. My parents have always been supportive but to this day sometimes I have dealt with friend’s parents asking me when I visit for holiday. So when are you going to get a job?:” but it is my job! A job that pays! A job that I love, that I get to meet so many people and build so many skills. There is so many people who still think Art is not a real thriving career. Yet they love to watch movies, go to museums, buy graphic T-shirts, go to festivals, not realizing that those are also Artists! and they are getting paid! I believe in myself and the further I have gotten on my creative journey, I no longer stop to convince others that what I do is important as the next job.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
The core of my work is Women of Color, specifically Black Women. It would be a disservice for me to be a creative with a platform and not include us in the narrative. I refuse to paint Black trauma. Our trauma is always plastered across the news, with death, protest, trials, and empathy. We feel things besides pain. Although these issues are very important and critical in our storytelling, I would like BIPOC to not always be connected to pain and suffering. We have talent, we have stories, we have strength, we have intelligence, we are just meant to have pain projected on to us. Why can’t we be depicted as beautiful, resilient, royalty and rested? I hope my work will impact the world through representation and visibility of marginalized groups.

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
I am learning that luck favors those who try. That one Luck is also about being receptive to the things around you and looking at the signs you are being shown. I pay attention to what I am being shown, almost too much sometimes. I am very calculated creatively. I even study what emotions each color is connected to. You create your own luck by listening to your intuition. You create your own luck by engaging in your community. You create your own luck by honoring the abundance you already have in your life.

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Image Credits

Art Images: Artist’s Own Photos (Kodak Disposables): Tsebiyah Derry

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