Use the opportunities that you have in front of you. Use the incredible liberties and freedoms that you have. Don’t sit around and waste them and whine about what you don’t have when you have all the opportunity in the world to do what you need to do.—Ashley Longshore
Ashley Longshore is a pop art painter whose work is found around the world and whose clients include Blake Lively, Penelope Cruz, Salma Hayek, Eli Manning, Katherine Heigl, and HRH Prince Pierre D’Arenberg. Ashley has major collaborations with Anthropologie, Chloe, and Veuve Cliquot and she’s been featured in Vogue, Elle, Vanity Fair, The Wall Street Journal, and Forbes to name just a few. She lives in New Orleans, LA.
What time do you get up?
I get up very, very early. Sometimes at 6 a.m. Sometimes at 5 a.m. I’m all excited and I can’t wait to get my day started. I wake up the same way a bullet leaves a gun – there ain’t no stopping me.
What time do you go to sleep?
I go down pretty early. I go down, usually, about 9 or 9:30 p.m. I like to watch nature programs before I go to sleep because they relax me and I learn stuff.
Is your creative work your full-time job?
You’re damn straight.
Do you wait for inspiration before you begin or do you begin regardless of inspiration?
First of all, I’m always inspired. There are an infinite amount of things to paint so I don’t understand all that hemming and hawing about not being inspired. I’m endlessly inspired.
How many hours a day, on average, do you do your creative work?
Sometimes I’m at my studio at 7 a.m. and I leave my studio around 6 or 7 p.m. So I’d say around 12 hours a day.
At what point are you done for the day
I’m usually done with the day when my eyelids start to close. I’m like a wild fire every single day. I just have to put myself out.
Do you work primarily in the morning, afternoon, or evening?
I am a morning and day painter. I’ve never painted at night. I think it’s because I wake up so early and I put out so much energy during the day.
Do you have a daily routine for your creative work?
Yes, I try to work harder tomorrow than I did today. I try to improve my time management every day. I try to get as many things done as I possibly can. When I’m really working on a new collection the whole idea is solitude and me painting until I feel like I’m going to collapse which I also really enjoy.
How does it start?
It starts by me putting on music and then I just start to attack the canvas. I don’t like talking about stuff, I like doing things. I feel like there are too many talkers out there and I’m more of an action kind of gal.
How does it end?
It ends when my fingers start to cramp up or my back starts to ache or my wrist hurts because I’ve painted too much.
How has your creative process changed over the years?
Well it’s different now because I have more opportunity than I’ve ever had so I’m at the point of having to make sure I have enough time for myself creatively, for my collaborations, my commissions, my team, my manufacturing, artgasm. It’s a little bit different in terms of time management but my process has stayed the same.
Do you have a dedicated work space?
Yes, I do. I like to paint in a cave-like environment. I feel safe. I feel like a rabbit down a hole. I feel like nobody can fuck with me.
If yes, do you have anything in your work space to encourage creativity?
I have an altar from an old church. I have candles and crystals. If I’m painting Frida Kahlo, I’ll tear a picture out of Frida Kahlo and I’ll have a little altar for her. Or Audrey Hepburn. Or anyone else I might be painting. That makes me feel excited and magical.
How do you stay focused in a world of the internet, social media, interruptions, and other distractions?
I love all that stuff. I welcome it. There’s more information so there’s more room for inspiration. All of those things really help my business more than they hurt it but I’m also one of those people who tries to stay full of positivity and to see the good in all of these opportunities instead of the negative. I also plug my phone in downstairs when I’m in my bed that way I do have time when I’m not locked into the grid.
How do you maintain your creative energy?
I just am a very high energy person and nothing gets me fired up like fucking making money. That is a very intoxicating power that is greater than any cocaine or penis on the planet. Making money is very inspiring. If I make money I can buy more supplies. If I make money I can make the grandest of ideas come together.
Are there any books you turn to for inspiration and guidance?
I have so many books of artists that I love to look at for color but I feel like I don’t have time to be sitting around looking at books all day. I’ve got to work. I’ve got to paint. I’ve got to be using my hands.
What other activities do you engage in to encourage your creativity outside of your creative work time?
I love to play the guitar. I love to go on hikes out in nature. I love to swim. I love to play with my chickens. I love gardening. I love to watch movies. I like to hear live music. But I really derive so much inspiration from nature. That’s like my church. I love nature. I do socialize a bit but I also get exhausted and I’m very particular about who I choose to spend my private time with because I’m scared of mean, nasty hateful bitches. I like to surround myself by nice people who know who they are, who aren’t intimidated by success. People who I can also learn from and who are also successful.
The deeper stuff...To listen to the conversation with Ashley on The Creativity Habit podcast:
Every Monday a new interview.Conversations about art, creativity, and courage.