Artist Spotlight: Junior illustration major speaks on her craft

Category:  The Arts
Friday, September 20th, 2019 at 11:03 AM
Artist Spotlight: Junior illustration major speaks on her craft by Zeila Hobson
Ashleigh Bowman's block print depicts a scene of the moon | Photo: Zeila Hobson

Ashleigh Bowman has always been creative, even as a tot. Bowman, a junior illustration major also pursuing minors in printmaking and sculpture, remembers finger-painting with something unexpected as a small child. Trix yogurt.

You see, her parents had to replace the regular paint with yogurt, as Bowman was too young to understand that paint shouldn’t be eaten. Her grandmother still has one of her yogurt masterpieces. Bowman was heavily influenced by both her grandmothers, as well as her father, in the pursuit of art, having grown up watching them find joy in creativity.

She claims to have always known she would pursue a career in art and isn’t put off by the “starving artist” trope. She also described how hard it can be to brand oneself in the matter-of-fact tone of someone who’s wholly unintimidated, saying “It takes years to build up a network; it’s not something that’s easily accessible.”

Though her parents do express worry about financial stability, Bowman herself is untroubled by the idea of “not making it.” She believes her work speaks for itself, and the greater Edinboro arts community has been an incredible asset to Bowman.

“The people I’ve met in the art community have really turned me into who I am.”

She continued: “In high school I hadn’t yet come into myself [and] I didn’t have a set group of friends where I could just be me and explore who I was. Coming here, everyone is so unique and passionately them, and it makes me want to do the same.”

This semester, Bowman is exploring a leadership role in the arts community as vice president of the illustration club. She credits Dr. Michelle Vitali, an illustration professor, with sparking a passion for the subject within her. “She is excited about illustration, which gets me excited and makes me want to further explore the medium.”

Bowman sells work at art events and takes commissions, such as tattoo designs. Calling herself an “environmentalist in training,” Bowman presents a portfolio inspired by nature, especially plant life. Her paintings, prints and sculptures reflect the beauty of the natural phenomena we often take for granted. She is very familiar with natural miracles; Bowman loves to garden in the summers. When she was remembering her experiences landscaping for a family friend back home, her eyes lit up and she offered a wry smile at the memory of “yanking up weeds.”

This past summer, a friend showed Bowman an Instagram post offering work to illustrators to design a book cover. She threw her hat in the ring, taking the author’s notes on how he imagined the illustration. Her design was chosen by Devon Brown, a fellow EUP student, to be the cover of his self-published book of poetry, “A World That Taught, A Knife That Cut, A Rose That Grew." 

Art takes hard work, according to Bowman, especially emotionally. She maintained that the constant battle fought by an artist to find and occupy her niche, form a coherent and relevant message and then execute it in the proper manner is one for the strong-willed. With any art form, planning and building an idea takes time and effort, and it can be mentally and physically demanding, according to her. Bowman summed up the rigor of being an artist with one short phrase: “It sure is convenient that Loveland is open all night.”

Bowman is currently brainstorming for Inktober, a month-long social media challenge wherein artists are tasked with posting an original drawing every day of October. The drawings must be in ink, and every day there is a different prompt to inspire the artwork. For example, some of the prompts for #inktober2019 are “enchanted,” “sling,” “ghost” and “dizzy.”

She is also working on class projects in screenprinting and painting. To see more of her work or commission a piece, follow her Instagram, @abowman_artwork.

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