How Mixed-Media Artists Think and Work: Profile on Will Ashford

When an opportunity presents itself as you’re working on a piece of art, sometimes you may receive a gift from your muse: a new, wonderful idea. Such is the way mixed-media artist Will Ashford works, as you’ll see in this feature from Seth Apter’s exciting new book, The Mixed-Media Artist: Art Tips, Tricks, Secrets and Dreams from Over 40 Amazing Artists.

Mixed-media art by Will Ashford |
The Face I Show the World: In a Portrait or The Likeness of a Man by Will Ashford

Mixed-Media Artist Profile: Will Ashford

I rescue, salvage and recycle other people’s words. I search for interesting, preferably discarded, old books. Like an archeologist, I hunt for the words that speak to me with new meaning. Intuitively, one word at a time, they turn into a kind of haiku or philosophical poetry that I can call my own. At some unpredictable point along the way, in my mind, the images start to invent themselves.

Mixed-media artist Will Ashford |
Photo of Will Ashford by Meher Siegle

I’m always experimenting with new methods and/or materials. Normally I remove the page I’m working on from the book and do the final drawings directly on the actual document. But last year I started a project with a book that I was uncomfortable with disassembling. I solved that problem by digitally scanning each page and creating the final work on my computer and printing the final images. I usually finish each piece with some additional pencil work, but for the most part, these new pieces were created digitally.

It’s wonderful how improvements seem to present themselves when you are ready to see them, and how one idea can lead to the next. While working on the final piece, I noticed the serendipitous location on the face of the words “the artist.” I couldn’t just let that go. I highlighted those words in red.

This image began with a single page from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay on art, chosen because of the words “In a portrait” at the top of the page. I had to find the rest of the words, and this took several tries over many days. The silhouette image was an obvious choice. I removed all of the poem’s words that had been printed on the right side of the main text and at the same time carefully left behind all of the letter o’s as well as all of the dots and periods. From this I created a new visual poem that helped maintain the visual composition of the original page. ~Will

Learn the secrets of many more mixed-media artists when you order the Mixed-Media Education Multi-Pack, which features the following:
• Cloth Paper Scissors September/October 2015
• The Art of Whimsical Lettering (eBook)
• No Excuses Watercolor (eBook)
• Playful Paper Backgrounds (video download)
• The Mixed-Media Artist (eBook)

In The Mixed-Media Artist, Seth adds that the featured artists “not only reveal their secrets and dreams by allowing you access into their personal thoughts and creative perspectives, but they also share their favorite techniques, tips, and tricks so you can see their actual creative processes–and perhaps try some of their tips yourself!” And what could be better than that?

When you find inspiration and ideas, hold on tight and don’t let them go!

Live inspired,

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