Ashley Chew

Feb 16, 2023

Ashley is wearing the Lacey Dress, Hoxton Knit Dress, and the Madeline Dress.

Could you tell us more about your art?

My art is an expression of Women and Women-identifying at rest, relaxation, luxury, and joy. Especially Women of Color. Often the systems in place of systemic racism, patriarchy, perceived gender roles, and trauma overshadow positive emotions. While the hurdles we face are critical in our storytelling, so are the triumphs and periods of rest. We can be more than one thing. My work is bright, exciting, has movement, and of course stylish!

As "petite and pristine" as people perceive me, I get my hands dirty for 5 feet of canvas, using tools in the studio, lugging around materials from point A to point B. You can be strong, you can be creative, you can be stylish, you can be intelligent, you can be an advocate. I want myself and my work to continue to reflect this. You don't need to compromise parts of yourself to make people more comfortable. Especially if you are marginalized in any industry.

Where do you find inspiration?

Currently, I am working on a new body of work. My last body of work was about relaxation and representation. The message will continue to focus on Women and Women-identifying in ways we are not often perceived in The Arts, and in mass media. I won't give the subject matter away just yet- but this one is a really fun process for me.

Before beginning a piece I ask myself “What would younger me have wanted to see studying The Arts?”, “How else can I show joy in clever and cheeky ways?”. I hope that my work can be a point of reference for current and future generations. I have a lot of people reach out on Social Media saying "My daughter loves your work she drew this picture", or "I love that you paint bellies." My work is not a personal project, my work is a community project. What creativity you give to the world is the gift to yourself.

Tell us more about your personal style.

I am pretty known by now for dressing a lot like my artwork, or maybe I am subconsciously painting what I would wear haha. As a former model and working Fashion Illustrator, my work tends to have fashion elements.  I am very mindful about color and such a Color Theory nerd. I have books and books on Color and Color Mixing. I’m either in bright colors or all beige like a fresh canvas, there’s hardly an in-between. Fashion should be fun, especially in a place  like New York City.

I used to be conscious of certain cuts and shapes because of how tiny I am. I love dresses. Now I just go for it. As an introvert, I used to avoid attention grabbing pieces and colors, I would be mortified of commanding a room. Now I feel an incredible outfit is a way I can say a lot, without saying a lot. Same with my artwork, many artists tend to be on the shy end. I have yet to use my speaking voice on Instagram, but I'm working on it.

What do you have playing in the background when you’re painting?

When I am painting I listen to Beyoncé, of course. I also love to hear people’s stories so I listen to a ton of podcasts. Daily rotation of Dax Shepard and Monica Padman’s “Armchair Expert” or Jay Shetty’s “On Purpose”

If you were a color, what would you be and why?

Bright Blue is calming, cool, dependable, serene, aquatic, and quiet. This is also consistent in my paintings.

Is there something coming up that you want everyone to know?

I adore mystery. My favorite artists are private and have a mysterious aura behind them. The late Prince, Sade, Beyoncé, Pharrell, Andre 3000. You don’t know what they are going to do next. That’s the excitement and anticipation of their creativity.

Tell us about you - where are you from, how did you get to where you are today?

I was raised in the Midwest. Chicago-born, and Indianapolis raised. I studied The Fine Arts, but ended up modeling several years in New York City. I loved modeling and all of the amazing people and experiences, but I always felt like just a number in a room that was not reflective of my knowledge and talents.

At heart I have always been an Artist. I started to pursue Art Full-Time, and my Fashion relationships only grew greater and deeper! Clients I once sat in a makeup chair as model, I now hold close relationships with as a creative. It’s truly a blessing to make that transition and be seen and have my work seen. I am still a work in progress navigating industries that feel like they change so rapidly everyday. Do your best, there’s no formula to any of this.