You know the saying though... if you want a job done, ask a busy person. Ashley replied to my message with in-depth answers, so sit back and enjoy hearing how this young woman is enthusiastically meeting the demands of a growing and mostly commissioned-based business. She also speaks thoughtfully about competitive pricing, copying, and sharing.
a new piece begins...
What launched your interest in working with on-edge paper?
I'm the lucky girl with a sister and two cousins, all close in age, who receive gifts twice in December - for the holidays and their birthdays (all within two weeks time!). While trying to think of something original to give in December 2012, I came across Yulia Brodskaya's work and was just taken over with this fantastic craft. I got started right away, only to hand my sister an I.O.U. on her birthday because it took me so long to complete! But I've been in love with this slow craft ever since.
Ashley's first project - a gift for her sister
Most people, upon seeing my work recognize it as something they tried in school or something their grandmother did: quilling. I have never done traditional quilling, however, and I don't use any tools beyond scissors, a pair of tweezers, and a Scotch glue pen. I also cut my own strips using heavier paper (65 pound) and cut them quadruple the width of typical quilling strips (1/2 inch instead of 1/8). I just love the graphic look of bigger strips and the sturdiness of thicker card stock.
Did it take a long time to develop your own style of combining loose coils with block lettering?
My style is still developing and hopefully always will. I've certainly gotten faster with time and am always adding to my arsenal of skills and techniques. Immersing myself in other artists' works, especially those who don't do what I do, is so inspiring and helps keep me (and my style) on my toes! Some paper artists are very precise (and their work is gorgeous as well) but all of my work starts out as a blank board.
What is your favorite part of the creative process?
It's pretty funny but I tell people that every piece reaches a point (usually about midway) when I decide I hate it and want to start over. It happens with Every. Single. Piece. And then something clicks (sometimes ten minutes later, sometimes ten days later) and I visualize how to finish it. As much as I enjoy the peacefulness and concentration that comes from my work, the best part is that harmonious finish of color and movement. And that's what inspires me to start again!
A 24 x 24-inch commission by the Rainforest Alliance and Domtar, a recycled paper company whose papers Ashley used exclusively for the project.
I noticed you mentioned on Facebook that changes are coming to your business... if the time is right to elaborate on that, do tell!
I've just held a great big giveaway on both Instagram and Facebook and am thrilled to be sending prints out all over the world to the winners. It was in celebration of the first fine art prints being made of my original works. Each print has been scanned and printed on archival 100% cotton rag. Super lovely paper that gives the look of an original. I'm so thrilled at the response to the prints and am running a special on the initial print "love" through June 1st for 30% off through my Etsy shop, Paper Liberated. Each print is sent with an accompanying mat for gifting or easy framing and can be shipped worldwide. It just tickles me to know that a colorful idea from my brain is being shared internationally.
I'm so glad you don't undercharge for your work. People often think because we work with simple paper, how hard can it be? Have you felt much resistance to your pricing?
I'll be honest and say that when I started selling my work on Etsy in early 2013, I was grossly undercharging to the point I had another quiller write to me and practically demand I raise my prices. It was purposeful and I don't regret doing it at all as I gained a lot of experience that I might not have otherwise. I raised my prices probably every three months or so until the start of 2014 when I realized I needed to take it a bit more seriously because I was happily swamped with work, but obviously hadn't reached that lovely balance between receiving work and valuing my own time.
Sometimes people contact me for a quote and I don't hear from them again. I expect that. Perhaps they are just curious or want to know for future reference. The only time I've ever received any negative feedback on price was at the OOAK show in December 2013 in Chicago (and it was just a handful of folks out of the 60,000+ visitors). Many people who recognize my work as quilling, deem it something they can do quickly and easily. It doesn't even seem to be the fact that it's paper, just that people grossly underestimate the amount of time and skill it takes to complete a small work. I had one mom look to her daughter, who may have been about 9, and say, "You could do that!"
Zen - a new print in the shop
In the same vein, I'm never concerned about copycats as I welcome anyone to try to duplicate my work. Firstly, I think most people would give up an hour or two in, and secondly, if someone puts in the hours and patience to copy my work they deserve some credit!
I believe a rising tide floats all boats and there's no reason to think we can't support one another and appreciate each artist's unique spin on things. On Etsy and social media, I'm always very candid about my challenges and sharing my techniques with anyone who inquires, and that brings me so much satisfaction. I love that people feel they can reach out for help and hopefully I can steer them around whatever missteps I've made over the last couple years.
Ashley, thank you for taking the time to be interviewed and I want you to know I've positioned your lovely R in this spot as my way of saying Right on. Like you, supporting other artists has always been my modus operandi, as well as the mission of this blog. Continued success to you!
Ashley at a RAW Artists showcase held in Washington, D.C., spring 2014
Contact Ashley via Paper Liberated on Etsy, Facebook, and Instagram.