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Rising Stars: Meet Ashley Gregory

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

Hi Ashley, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Hello! My name is Ashley Gregory and here is my story: Throughout elementary, middle, and high school I wanted to be an engineer when I grew up. My dad taught me how to use a Konica SLR film camera when I was in middle school and I also took some art classes in school. But I still wanted to be an engineer. At the end of high school, I changed my mind and enrolled in a college to study marine biology. I was definitely not ready to be away from home and moved back after only one week! I then enrolled in a local university and decided to study psychology. I graduated with honors and a 4-year degree that I could not do much with. So, I went to grad school. I earned a Master’s Degree in Applied Psychology. After all of this, I started a job I didn’t really enjoy. I did many many creative and crafty things in my spare time though. I especially enjoyed taking photographs and used what my dad taught me to start experimenting. Macro photography became my favorite. When my family moved to Florida, I became a stay-at-home mom and decided to concentrate more on my photography and art. I continued to take photographs and draw. I am always creating something. One day, I decided to plant milkweed in my yard to attract monarch butterflies. This led to some fun butterfly observations and photographs. After doing some research I put it all together in a non-fiction children’s book called Backyard Monarchs. While I still do a lot of nature photography, I also started doing digital illustrations in one of my favorite art styles. I have been greatly influenced by the Japanese art styles of Anime, Manga, and Kawaii. That is where I am today. The road didn’t start out leading here but somehow it is where I ended up.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
I think photographers and artists have to constantly evaluate what they are doing. There are so many photographers and artists out there. Whenever I go to craft shows or events as a vendor, most customers love my photographs and tell me how beautiful they are, but many don’t purchase anything. An obstacle for me has been how to turn the customers that are in awe of my work into customers who want to purchase my work. How do I get my name and my work out there to attract more people to it? The business side of being an artist is one of the things I struggle with. I am very introverted and not very good at marketing my work myself.

Another obstacle has been balancing mom life and artist life. Sometimes I just don’t have time to work on any art. But I try to work on something every day if I can, even if it is just for a few minutes. I have wonderful family members that have helped me get through some of the challenges.

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?
I would say that I have two types of artwork that I spend most of my time on. Photography and digital art. I think I am probably most known for my butterfly photography and the non-fiction children’s book I created about the life cycle of monarch butterflies. I do a lot of flower macro photography and some abstract photography that I am really proud of.

Influenced by Japanese art styles, I also create digital artwork. When I make these pieces, I am going for something that makes people think, “OH! So cute!”

My goal as an artist is to make people smile! When my work genuinely brings a smile to someone’s face, that makes me so happy! I’m so glad that people like what I create.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs, or other resources you think our readers should check out?
I think the readers should definitely check out my book, Backyard Monarchs! If anyone is interested in starting their own art journey I recommend either purchasing or checking out from the library, some how-to-draw books. I have several how-to-draw books that I reference all the time. I also read manga and watch anime which give me access to some of my favorite styles of art. Whenever I start a new illustration, I use Pinterest and create a new board with all the inspirational and reference images I think I might need. I used to use Adobe Illustrator a lot but now I use Procreate for the iPad when creating my digital artwork.

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