There's No Place Like Home: A Conversation with 2021 PBR Art Can Winner, Ashley Dreyfus
On the occasion of PBR's Art Can Contest winner being announced, we sat down with Boise, Idaho-based artist Ashley Dreyfus, this year's big winner to get the back story on her winning design. Already supported by a large social media following, and holding down in the burgeoning scene of the Northwest, Dreyfus' bright and cartoon-esque work was perfect fit for the PBR can design.
Juxtapoz: How did you prompt yourself for the PBR Art Can contest? And how was it different from anything else when you take on when you do a more "commercial project?"
Ashley Dreyfus: After sitting through the pandemic at home last year. I thought a lot about what made me happy and inspired while being isolated in the four corners of my room. My art piece is solely inspired by my appreciation for the activities and routine I had going on that kept me motivated and creative.
When I started sketching out this piece, I subconsciously knew what I already wanted to create. I'd say my workflow is pretty consistent as far as coming up with ideas for designs. This piece was especially important to me because I was excited for the opportunity to submit to the Pabst Art Can Contest.
I'm curious about Boise and the art scene there? How is the city right now for creatives, because I keep hearing good things! Is there a gallery scene, or place to show in the city, or murals getting painted? Give us a temperature...
Boise has a really unique developing art scene. The city itself is very friendly and supportive of local creatives. There isn't much of a “gallery” scene, but as far as accessibility it's great. Local coffee shops + bars/breweries are so generous and offer their spaces to artists of all mediums to host shows and have a space to represent. Murals are a big part of Downtown Boise’s Identity. We have an incredible outdoor mural gallery called “Freak Alley Gallery”, as well as many city commissioned murals and even art wrapped traffic boxes!
You have a bright, bold aesthetic and I was curious what sort of influences you were first into? What was the seed for you?
My art is inspired by my love of cartoons, vintage fashion, Pokemon video games, Beanie Babies and Pop Art to say the least Growing up, I had an obsession with Studio Ghibli movies and Cartoon Network shows like “The Powerpuff Girls”. As I grew older I began discovering the works of artists like Keith Haring, Andy Warhol and Peter Max.
I see that you sometimes use phrases in the work, and sometimes you let the viewer fill in the blanks, so to speak, but how do you determine that part of the work?
When I share my art every day on Instagram, I create based off of how I’m feeling. Some days I think of quotes that help me feel good, and my intention is to draw and produce art that provokes healing and comfort for others. Mostly when I make art, I want the viewer to interpret my work freely, whether it tells a story or is more abstract.
I have been asking this question to a few artists over the past few months, but what does urgency mean to you?
For me, I’ve felt an urgency to be a part of the bigger conversation revolving around mental health stigma and feeling okay during the past year. At this moment there is urgency to care for one another and express that it’s okay to not be okay. I want my art to resonate with others in a way that makes them feel like they have a place in society.
What is your routine like for making a work? Do you start on paper or do you start on the computer?
I’m an early morning person, my best days are started with coffee and a good playlist on Spotify. I work on an iPad currently and use the app “Procreate”, but also carry around paper constantly (you never know when inspiration is going to strike).
Did your practice or routines change at all during the last 18 months? Did you find yourself learning new skills or changing the way you approach your creative projects?
My practice has changed for sure over the past 18 months. With having more time on my hands, I wanted to learn new mediums and challenge myself to work out of my comfort zone. I actually worked on a lot of collaboration drawings with artist friends I met on Instagram. This brought a new joy to my life because I still felt like I had a close friend base, even though I couldn't travel to see people IRL.
Otherwise this past year has been the busiest of my life. I was able to work on projects I never would have anticipated being offered. This kept me busy and excited for creating.
What is the best art advice you ever received?
When I was 19, I was very interested in learning how to draw digitally but didn’t have any knowledge or direction. I had a friend who gave advice to set aside time for myself every day for a month and draw something new. I bought myself a cheap plug in drawing tablet, watched youtube tutorials religiously,and downloaded a digital drawing program to use. I ended up continuing this habit for a whole year, and since then I’ve been drawing and sharing new art to Instagram for almost five years now.
Maybe give us a little step-by-step, play-by-play of the work you created that won the PBR Art Can contest?
The piece that I designed to submit was a 24 hour all day construction. I remember waking up one day in December and grabbing my Ipad immediately to start sketching. It started with the idea of a giant round Pabst Blue Ribbon that had hollow shapes of “rooms” on the inside. As I kept adding to it, I got the idea of creating a “vintage” inspired Pabst hotel sign to adorn the top of the design and tie in the logo. The final design depicts characters and animals enjoying their company inside during the pandemic.
What are your plans for the rest of 2021?
I am planning paintings and new merch for art shows and a few local art festivals for the next couple of months, As well as working on cool client projects and personal projects!