Behind The Art: An Interview with Ashley Stagg

Ashley Stagg, (2018)

Ashley Stagg is a young, up-and-coming artist from Indiana, who is currently focussing on fluid art, which is the art of pouring acrylics onto a canvas and letting the paint bring itself to life through natural movements. Stagg uses a stunning contrast of vibrant and bold colours against bottomless pools of harsh black, giving each piece of subtle hint of sophistication embedded in wild whirls of colour.

Talking with Ashley was a delightful breathe of fresh air, as she spoke about the lakes and mountains she visits, as well as the values of family and exploring self growth.

What kind of art do you usually do? I can see it is mostly fluid art, do you practice other mediums?

Here lately I’ve mainly been playing around with fluid art. I love the flow of it. My favourite medium is chalk pastel, however. I enjoy doing landscapes. But I also write a lot of poetry. I’ve been told that i’m very good actually and have quite a way of translating feelings with words.

When creating do you have an image in your head of how you want the piece to turn out, or do you just go with the flow? I imagine it’s exciting to see how each piece turns out!
How do you find the slight uncertainty of fluid art? If there is any.

Yes, typically I have an idea in my head before I start painting however the finished result often takes its own path for fluid art. Sometimes, it’s almost as if i’m the vehicle and the paint is the creator. Either way it’s always an exciting outcome.

Do your moods impact your work? Do you use art as an escape from negativity?

I guess in a sense my mood doesn't really affect my art. My art is my scapegoat; my muse. It’s my retreat from the from the everyday stresses of life. It’s where I go when I want peace. To make something beautiful beautiful for someone I adore or a complete stranger who fell in love with it or just something that’s been haunting me to come alive. 
Sometimes i’ll think something turned out horrible, then my wonderful daughter (and biggest supporter) will remind me that, “One mans trash is another mans treasure, Mommy.”
She’s twelve and continues to beautifully blow my mind every day.

Are you an early bird or a night owl? What is your preferred time to create?

I am more of a “Night Owl”. I am not a morning person, though my job requires me to be. At work my mind is constantly reeling with ideas and projects I want to start when I get home. My normal time to create since I work during the day is early evening. After I get home and get the every day chores done and dinner started, that really doesn’t leave me much time however. Not as much as i’d like.

Why do you do what you do?

I do this because I enjoy it. I enjoy being creative and opening my mind.

Do you listen to music while you work? If so, who or what kind of music do you listen to most?

I don’t listen to music, but my TV will probably be playing in the background. I sort of get lost in my art.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I have very vivid dreams so sometimes my inspirations come from there. Or possibly a feeling or emotion I experience throughout the day and i’ll play off that.

What is the art scene like where you live?

The art scene isn’t very big here, but it’s growing. I wish there was a bigger platform available for encouraging and promoting seasoned, as well as up-and-coming artists. But my city isn’t really that big; the population is about 118,000. It’s an industrial city so we have quite a few factories here.

What’s your strongest memory of your childhood?

My strongest childhood memories would be of me getting lost in the woods of my backyard. I’d imagine a while different world. I’d ride around on my 4-wheeler or just run around for hours. It washy secret haven where everything was possible.

What themes do you pursue?

I have to say when i’m creating a piece, I just want it to convey feeling. To transport the seer elsewhere - to a forbidden place; the deepest recesses of their mind… A lost thought, a happy memory, their favourite person. I like to evoke emotion.

Describe a real-life situation that really inspired you?

Situations thats inspire me are watching DIY artists on YouTube or home makeover shows. I love browsing Pinterest for more pouring ideas!

When did you first feel you calling to create art?

I’ve always been an artist, for as long as I can remember. When I was a little girl and my mom would take me to eat at a restaurant, I’d always be drawing on the napkins. In school when we were assigned poetry homework it flowed so naturally from my fingers. My friends were always so jealous.

What is your favourite colour and why?

My favourite colour is green. It always has been. I just really love a deep jade. Purple is my second favourite. Together I feel that they advocate “fantasy” - I love fantasy.

What superpower would you have and why?

My chosen superpower would be the ability to summon fire. Fire would just pour from my fingers. It’d act as a protective barrier as well. And I could also teleport.

Do you have a muse or role model?

One of my role models would be Joanna Gaines from the TV show “Fixer Upper”. She has her hands in a bit of everything; Motherhood, graphic/interior design, restaurant owner, farming entrepreneur etc - and has such a happy personality through her bustling schedule. on top of it all her and her husband seem to have the epitome of a perfect marriage. I just love watching how her brain works.

What piece of work are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the first piece that my daughter and I did together. To most it looks like a messy chaos. But to me it’s special.

Are you currently working on anything?

Right now, I am working on up cycling lamps from scrap pipe and metal from my job. A bunch of gauges, fitting and pipes were going to the rash and I asked to give them a second chance at life. Also, along the way my dad gets to teach me how to use shop tools I’ve never used before. So thats a big learning bonus for me and quality time with the Pops.

Do you look at the work of other artists?

I am constantly looking at work from other artists for tips and inspiration.

What do you think makes art “good”?

I think what makes art “good” is purely in the eye of the beholder. For me, it’s anything that arouses reaction.

Do you have a favourite city to visit?

I’m not much of a “city gal” … I’d rather be kayaking down a beautiful stream or enjoying a campfire with a mountainous view. But if I had to choose, I really enjoyed visiting Deep Ellum in Texas. It’s very artsy. I just love the vibe.

What are your top three holiday destinations?

Hmmm… Not really sure if I have any favourite “holiday destinations”. In the fall I love visiting the Garden of the Gods - it’s an area not far from me with beautiful rock cliffs to climb that overlook thousands of acres, and it is a spectacular and breathtaking place to witness the leaves changing colour and to just absorb all the sun and fresh air. In the summer my family loves going to the mountains in Arkansas. There are some great places to camp there, with crystal clear water to kayak and swim and enjoy a nice campfire.

Who would you say is your favourite artist?

I really like the artist Banksy. he does art for arts sake alone and the passion it instills in others and doesn’t do it for the fame. My favourite piece of his is “Girl and Balloon”. If you aren’t familiar with him you should definitely look him up, especially the story of what happened when that piece went to auction.

How would your describe your fashion style?

Well I work in a factory so once I get home, I’ll just throw on some sweat pants or something. But when I do need to actually wear “real pants”,I typically dress with a sort of “boho meets alternative” style.

What is your most treasured possession?

My most treasured possession would be my daughter’s baby book.

Has your work changed over time? If so, what caused the change, if anything?

My art has changed lately - with fluid art it’s more abstract. I normally do realistic pieces representing landscapes or inanimate objects - conveying beauty to what some may find boring.

Personally, whats your goal?

It sounds a bit mundane, but my goal is to be the best at everything I try; or at least very good. 
I know it’s not a very accessible goal to have but I find that I am always pushing myself and underestimate my ability.

What advice would you give to those wishing to pursue a creative path?

My advice to others would be to open your mind. Really explore yourself and what drives you. Don’t ever be scared to take risks - they’re the only way you’ll ever truly figure out your potential. Unearth what you like, who inspires you and then look up who inspires them. Always keep learning. Because learning is growth. And growth is a happy place for the mind to be.