Ashley Longshore isn’t just an artist: She’s the #BossLady we never knew we needed. As far as being a pop artist goes, she’s one of the best. Her work has been compared to Andy Warhol by both Town & Country Magazine and The New York Post. Her bold artwork fearlessly explores nature and some of the uglier sides of our society, and it has racked up fans all over the world.
As impressive as her collection of work is, it’s her status as an innovator, artpreneur and channel disrupter that’s turning heads. She’s the trailblazer to a movement set to give artists what they deserve: a fair market price that goes directly into artists’ wallets. Oh, and did we mention she calls Blake Lively a friend? And that she’s collaborated with Anthropologie? Read on for more gems from our convo with our newest girl crush.
B+C: You’re really a pioneer when it comes to utilizing social media for sales in the art world. What made you first turn to Instagram as a direct-to-sell platform?
AL: It was really just a matter of me surviving and making a living as an artist. So many of these online platforms are free tools. I can put these posts out there and get immediate feedback from what I’m painting, and I just realized very quickly that I had collectors texting me, “Ashley is that available?” and people on Instagram saying, “Oh my God, can I buy this? Is this for sale?” So I just linked my Facebook and Instagram accounts together, and it’s been a really wonderful sales tool.
B+C: Do you think your direct-to-consumer approach, both through social media and your subscription program, Artgasm, is the future of art sales?
AL: I think for so long, the gallery made it seem as though it was a very prestigious thing to purchase artwork from them. I think now, with social media, the fact that you can get directly to the artist that you are interested in, it’s now much more of an elite and prestigious thing to buy artwork directly from the person creating it. Do you want to buy a Chanel gown from Karl Lagerfeld? Do you want him to be in the room with you? Of course you do. If you go to Carolina Herrera for a fitting, do you want her to be there? Of course you do. For me, is it more work as an artist? Of course it is. Marketing myself, running my own companies, creating the artwork — yes, it’s more work, but it’s worth it. I know who my collectors are.
B+C: Do you think there is a place for galleries and more traditional revenue streams to thrive in tandem?
AL: Yes, I do. Do I think they need to restructure how they work with artists? Yes, I do. Taking 50 percent and an artist’s inventory with the hopes of selling and no guarantee for the artist is absolutely not a fair business environment. I don’t know any other business environment, except maybe a musician, where such high percentages are taken, where it’s not in the artist’s best interest. I tell these young artists, if you have to work with a gallery, see if they will purchase the art directly from you. If you go to a high-end furniture store and the sofa is $15,000, chances are Mitchell Gold didn’t loan that furniture store a $15,000 sofa in hopes they would sell it. The furniture store had to purchase it. It isn’t fair if the gallery isn’t willing to purchase the artwork outright and then sell it. It’s just a bad deal.
B+C: What is the most powerful thing about social media?
AL: Social media makes the world extremely small. As an artist, I have a reach with one post that can go all the way to Russia, it can go to my collectors in New Orleans, my collectors in New York, Brazil, Australia, all over the world. That is what is so amazing about social media. It pulls us all together.
B+C: How does identifying as an urban hippie influence your work?
AL: Nature influences my work a lot. Being an American woman, I can’t avoid that fact that status and all of those things play a role in my role in society. You can’t avoid that in America. America is all about branding and labels and status. That is what we are. Having nature as a huge part of my life keeps me balanced and helps me understand my real place in society. I am fascinated by greed and status and labels and branding because I also find it to be really funny. So then for my other collections, like Frida Kahlo and Audrey Hepburn, you can really see so much of the beauty of nature and the stillness of moments… we really need to stop and enjoy all of those precious moments. Those moments are also free. They don’t cost anything. So I really have two sides of my personality: a side that is very laid back and all about nature and beauty and strong women, and this other side that is really exploring my own role in society and greed and status and the things that define us.
B+C: From Anthropologie to the Bryant Park Hotel, you’ve worked on some pretty impressive collaborations. Who do you want to work with next?
AL: I would love to do a collection for Louis Vuitton. I would love to do the artwork for a whole fashion layout for Grace Coddington at Vogue. I would love to do skins for jets and yachts. I would love to do a collaboration for NetJets or some big corporate company like FedEx. I would love to do a skin for an entire train in NYC or London or somewhere in Europe. That’s the thing about being an artist: I could really do whatever I wanted to do. Also, I have two huge global collaborations coming out in 2016 that I’m really excited about. I can’t wait to share it with everyone!
B+C: What advice do you have for young women who are trying to become successful on their own terms?
AL: Success comes from hard work. And when you work hard, you’ve got good days and you’ve got bad days. I like to compare so much of my success and my journey so far to planting a garden. There is no instant gratification: You have to plant the seeds, but you don’t get fruit the next day. You have to plant the seeds and make sure the garden has water and sun, you pull the weeds, some days you may have a flood and you have to rework the soil. This is all part of it. There is no instant gratification. For me, things that give you instant gratification usually get you in trouble.
B+C: What do you want to see more of in 2016?
AL: I’d like to see people uniting all over the world. World peace. I know that’s kind of a cliché answer, but I really feel that more than I ever. I want to see more female entrepreneurs in 2016. I want to see more wealthy artists in 2016. I want to see more artists going out on a limb and breaking away from galleries and representing themselves. I daydream of a world full of wealthy artists, the same way we have real estate people and hedge fund guys and bankers and oil tycoons. I dream of a world with just as many wealthy artists doing incredible things all over the planet.
B+C: Is Blake’s hair really always that flawless?
AL: Blake is an absolutely gorgeous, unbelievable lady. She’s not only extremely talented as an artist (we paint together), but she is so thoughtful and so lovely when it comes to understanding the creative process. She is lovely and gorgeous all way around. And yes, her hair is absolutely incredible. She’s unbelievable; she’s a remarkable woman. I’m happy to call her my friend.
(Photos via Ashley Longshore)