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Meet Ashley Bradley of Ashley Bradley Art in Downtown Chicago

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

Ashley, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I only started making artwork seriously when I got to high school and around that time was when I realized that I wanted to pursue it as a career. My work has always been very personal, stretching as far back as doodles and drawings that first got me practicing the art which focused around my favorite bands and lyrics that were meaningful to me. My practice has continued to evolve around personal events, ranging from my experiences with body image and eating disorders to familial relationships, to my interest in snapshots of moments and how those encounters are viewed similarly or differently by myself and others. I have always used my work to contemplate and better understand my individual and intimate thoughts, often ones of self-struggle, betrayal, and displacement and use the permanence and public nature of art to solidify and comprehend them. I received lots of support in sharing my stories, winning awards and having my work displayed numerous places, and this has continued to push me to make work while attending SAIC that is significant to who I am as a person. I originally did this solely through painting but my practice has expanded to bridging these ideas and techniques with fibers work including embroidery, weaving, and mending.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has definitely not been a smooth road. Because my work is personal, it has to start with me understanding private things and talking about situations that I typically have not before. That alone is very difficult, for fear of putting so much of myself out in the open and for fear of how people might react. It has also been difficult finding the right balance within my work. It is important for me to make work that is accessible to viewers, but that still maintains its truth and intimacy. I have made lots of work that has not been successful because of this. It has also been a difficult path because so many people think that it is impossible to make art and be “successful” at the same time. Because of that, it has been a challenge to stay motivated but I continuously reflect on myself and how much the things that I am doing and making mean to me. In times where I doubt myself, I make the point of reminding myself that I have things to say and that need to be shared through my art, for myself but even for others to possibly relate to and connect with.

Please tell us about Ashley Bradley Art.
I run my online portfolio and store at I post my personal work as well as work that I have been commissioned. I also occasionally sell prints or original artwork and paintings. I have done lots of different projects under the name of Ashley Bradley Art, from commissioned paintings and drawings, custom painted shoes or embroidered clothing to original artwork. Because my focus is on fiber and material studies and painting, I specialize in making work in those mediums but am always interested in expanding that and incorporating other ideas and techniques.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
One of my favorite memories from childhood is when I had to do a school project and needed to make a poster board go along with it. My grandma who was very talented artistically helped me, and I remember sitting over her shoulder for hours while she drew. I was so in awe of her and her skills. Similarly, growing up we had some of her framed paintings hanging around our house and I loved to stare at them and trace her signature in the bottom corner with my eyes. I was so inspired by her as she was one of the only people in my family who made art and I told myself that I wanted to do those things as well. She is one of the main reasons that I began to produce art and continue to learn new skills.

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