Maker Spotlight: Ashley Mary Art + Design


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A screenshot of Ashley Mary in her digital illustration class video with Brit + Co

Courtesy Brit + Co

Ashley Mary has gained a following in the Twin Cities for her colorful, graphic original abstract paintings, her bold line of wallpaper (sold exclusively at Ciel Loft & Home), and her pattern designs for Target. The Minneapolis artist recently moved into a new studio within the Northrup King Building in Northeast, which she’s sharing with the brand Minny & Paul, known for its curated boxes of goods from Minnesota makers. 

This weekend’s Art Attack open-studio event at Nothrup King Building is a great time to check out Mary’s new space, as well as explore other studios from Northeast Minneapolis artists and makers for the first-ever Open District, an open studio crawl spanning the entire Northeast Minneapolis Arts District—think a holiday version of the annual spring open studio event, Art-A-Whirl. (See more on that below.)

I caught up with Mary on her latest news, including a new digital illustration class she’s offering online through Brit + Co, a rundown of the latest retailers to carry her artwork and products, and the lowdown on her new studio.

Ashley Mary's mural at iWare in Northeast

COURTESY ashley mary

Tell me more about your digital illustration class with Brit + Co! For someone who has never done digital illustration or taken an online class, how does it work?

Just because there are no dumb questions, I should explain: Digital illustration is when you are drawing using a tablet of any kind. I personally use a Wacom tablet but also have used an iPad and Apple Pencil before, too. I instruct the class using Adobe Photoshop, so in order to take the class, you'd need a digital tablet and Photoshop. Once you pay for the class, you get a link to an hour-ish video in which I walk you through about nine mini-lessons. Since this class is specifically about digital illustration for social media, I talk through creating moodboards and how to tell your story visually. Then I go through three different ways you can illustrate within Photoshop, as well as how to bring your hand lettering from paper to the screen. You can pause and play as much as you like and the video is yours to keep for reference. It also comes with some patterns I've designed to use within the class and supplementary materials. Brit + Co has a ton of great classes that all follow the same-ish format and center around creativity. They were lovely to work with. (Sign up at brit.co.) 

How would you say your artwork has evolved over the past couple years?

It’s definitely become more abstract. There's virtually no vintage ephemera anymore. (I started as a collage artist with lots of little vintage pieces.) I've come back into collage in a more abstract way now that has become a support for some of my paintings and they definitely live on their own. I'll often combine the paper with other mediums like pen, acrylics, and gold leaf. The scale of my work has grown too, probably as a result of having room to work on larger canvases. But I’m hoping to go even bigger in the next year. We'll see—I'm not very tall.

Any collabs in the works?

I have a fun project coming up with [athletic performance brand] Manduka that will launch later this fall. My tech accessories are still at Target, including a bunch of fun new patterns that launched this fall. There are some cool things happening in the winter but I'm not quite at a spot to share about them yet.

A new Ashley Mary iPhone case design for Target

COURTESY ashley mary

Any other recent projects?

I just finished up my first wall mural. I've always wanted to do one with my collage-shapes and got the chance to with iWare, an eyewear shop in NE Minneapolis. They have this fabulous funky shaped wall in the middle of their shop they let me have my way with. I loved getting to work in that scale and now I'm hungry for more.

Tell me about your new studio! Why did you decide to move?

I really just moved down the hall in Northrup King, from #211 to #247, so nothing too major! Four businesses were ultimately too many in the previous space, and we all were feeling cramped as our businesses grew. I personally needed more space for all my supplies and paintings and was wanting to use my studio for more of my design and illustration work as well, which before I had to do mostly at home due to space. My former studio mates, Modehaus Bridal and SM Hair + Makeup, fit so well together, as their clientele is heavily bridal-related and it makes sense that they should share a space that can focus on their customers more specifically. Laura (Waldman, of Minny & Paul) and I have been friends for a few years now and were excited to continue sharing space with one another, we work well together in the same space. So the four of us ladies just split into two larger rooms that are right next to each other, so we still get to stay connected and mooch of each other's skills. 

What do you and Minny & Paul have in store for Art Attack?

We will most be there all weekend debuting the new space and also doing a joint raffled giveaway of an M&P box filled with a few of my goods as well as some of Laura's fav picks. I will be selling my original pieces, prints, pillows, and pom-pom earrings, and M&P will have new holiday boxes available as well as a build-your-own box option. Plus, Minny & Paul is partnering with Goodspend—for every $100 spent on M&P boxes, you get a $10 reward for supporting local businesses via PayPal. More details to follow on our social accounts at @ashleymaryart and @minnyandpaul.

Ashley Mary's new studio at Northrup King Building with Minny & Paul

COURTESY ashley mary

Where can people find your art for purchase in the Twin Cities right now?

Golden Age Design just started carrying my art, which I'm thrilled about because I want everything in that store and having my art hang around all that good-looking furniture feels one step closer to actually owning one of their beauties. I still have work at Golden Rule in Excelsior as well. Gallery 360 in South Minneapolis has a series of my collage work up now, as well as the newly branded Frank Modern (formerly Covet Design). And as always, my studio has my largest inventory of work which anyone can see at Art Attack, First Thursdays, or by appointment. 

Other participating spaces at Open District including the California Building, Casket Arts Building, Solar Arts Building, and the Rogue Buddha Gallery. All open studios run Friday, Nov. 3 from 5–10 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 4 from noon–8 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 5 from noon–5 p.m., plus Northrup King is also open on Thursday, Nov. 2 from 5–9 p.m. in honor of First Thursdays. Here’s a spotlight of what to expect at the two busiest studios:

Art Attack at Northrup King: Shop handcrafted goods and art by local artists and craftspeople at this three-day open studio event hosted at the expansive Northrup King Building. Shop goods by makers including Kindred Folk, 3 Jäg design jewelry, and Meg Brown Ceramics (#451); American Craftsmen handcrafted outdoor goods (#213); Ashley Mary Art and Minny & Paul (#247); Strey Designs handbags and leather accessories, with special guests Foat Design and Vikse Designs jewelry (#211); Timber & Tulip Interiors (#310); Larissa Loden Jewelry, who will have giveaways and new, limited-edition designs (#265), L. SHOFF (#375), True Ethic ethical, artisan-made goods (#238); Liv by Linda jewelry and accessories (#364); Danish Teak Classics (#277); Karin Jacobson and special guest United Goods (#288); A MANO ceramics and special guest Everthine Jewelry (#252), and more, plus enjoy live music, food trucks, art demonstrations, and interactive experiences. @ Northrup King Building, 1500 Jackson St. NE., Minneapolis; visit northrupkingbuilding.com for a full list of artists & makers.

Open Casket at Casket Arts: The Casket Arts Building hosts its annual fall open studio event highlighting handmade goods and art by local makers and artists, plus food trucks, live music, guest artists, food trucks, and craft beer. Makers include textile makers Indigo & Snow and Josi Severson (#CA221), Flora Bella Studio (#CA115); Teresa Audet wood maker, Stangler Works wood furniture, Kelsey Lee-Karol jewelry, and Gina Mount Jewelry (#CH100).  @ Casket Arts Building, 681 17th Ave. NE., Minneapolis; visit casketarts.com for a full list of artists and makers.

More images of Ashley Mary's new studio with Minny & Paul (all images courtesy Ashley Mary): 

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