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The Q&A: Ashley Mistriel

The Q&A: Ashley Mistriel

By Peggy Roalf   Monday November 2, 2015

Q: Originally froma small town, what are some of your favorite things about living and working in Los Angeles?

A: I grew up in Frazier Park, CA, which is about an hour North of Los Angeles. It’s basically a little truck stop town with population of a whopping 3000. We had to drive 45 minutes to the nearest hospital, but what we lacked in civilization we made up for in dirt roads, bars, and churches! Don’t get me wrong, I love that I grew up with all four seasons and snow days, but living in LA I realized how much I enjoy people and the city. Everything is so spread out it seems like there’s always something new to discover.

Q: Do you keep a sketchbook? What is the balance between the art you create on paper versus in the computer?

A: I try starting sketchbooks but end up filling them with notes or just tearing the pages out. Working on loose paper feels a little less precious and more forgiving.

I work mostly by hand, and love the unintentional marks that can happen when I’m painting. The computer is more of a tool to edit and finalize my images.

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Q: What is the most important item in your studio?

A: The windows and walls! My good friend and artist, Theresa Knopf, and I just moved into the most gorgeous space Downtown. The owners are in the process of restoring the historical Bendix Building, and our studio is on the fifth floor with 10 or so other artists. It’s great; we have concrete floors, 11 ft. ceilings, a freight elevator, and gorgeous early 20th century plaster columns. The building borders Santee Alley in the Fashion District and our windows open up to the hustle and bustle of the marketplace, which is crazy busy during the day. The street cart bacon wrapped hot dogs might be the third best thing! So yeah, we each have a large wall to tack all of our work up, a big window, lots of light, and someone to bounce ideas off of.

Q: What do you like best about your workspace? 

A: I love that it’s a separate space. Working from home is doable, but because I like to work on multiple projects simultaneously, it’s really nice to have a space where I can leave the in-process stuff up and out.

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Q: Do you think it needs improvement, if so, what would you change?

A: The building is really old, so at this point the only thing we’re missing is AC. Other than that I can’t complain. I feel really fortunate to be part of a curated artist workspace surrounded by so many other talented artists.

Q: How do you know when the art is finished?

A: It’s something I’m getting better at knowing. Sometimes I’ll overwork a piece and enjoy the challenge of trying to rescue it. It just takes a bit of personal intuition.

Q: What was your favorite book as a child?

A: Harry Potter, hands down! I know, I know, but my Grandpa bought the series for me when I was 11, so I was just young enough to really enjoy them. He would read them after I was finished, and then we went to see all of the movies together. I love that we shared that.

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Q: What is the best book you’ve recently read? 

A: I was recently gifted David Hockey, A Retrospective…good stuff!

Q: If you had to choose one medium to work in for an entire year, eliminating all others, what medium would you choose?

A: Give me gouache and I’m a happy camper.

Q: If you could time travel to any era, any place, where would you go?

A: Probably the 1940’s. I’ve heard so many stories from my grandparents about growing up during WWII; I think it would be a really interesting time to witness firsthand. Also, a world without cell phones could be nice. I swear, sometimes I feel like I’m 80 years old!

Q: What is preoccupying you at the moment?

A: Between the day job, studio, friends, and family things are pretty busy. My studio mate and I are actually in the planning stages of guest curating an exhibition at Good Eye Gallery in Eagle Rock. The show will include 20 or so artists all working in mixed media and collage. It’s been so great getting to hand pick the artists and pieces for the show. The opening is scheduled for Saturday, November 28th from 3-6pm, and will run through January 9th. Hope to see all of you there!

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Q: What are some of your favorite places/books/blogs/websites for inspiration? 

A: I use a lot of found photographs in my work and process. I like to go to used bookshops, swap meets, second hand stores, estate/yard sales, etc. I know there are a ton of images online, but I prefer to work from real photographs and books. There’s just something about the history of the actual item and the hands it passed through that make it more inspiring. Also Instagram is fun.

Q: What was the [Thunderbolt] painting or drawing or film or otherwise that most affected your approach to art?

A: Honestly, going back to grad school. I took a couple years off after finishing my undergrad, hesitant about pursuing art. I wasn’t sure of my voice yet. Going back was the best decision, and I know it probably sounds trite, but I had the most amazing professors and peer group. I will say that taking classes with Christian Clayton probably had the biggest impact on my process and approach to making work. He basically taught me how to let go, stop editing, stop overthinking, and to just make a ton of stuff. There was one particular David Shrigley lecture we watched in that class that I can pinpoint as a thunderbolt moment. David Shrigley pretty much is a thunderbolt.

Q: What would be your last supper?

A: A cheeseburger, fries, and a vanilla shake. Or maybe a gyro and Greek salad from this place called Firehouse in Reseda?

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Studio photo by Nichole Gawalis

Ashley Mistriel is an illustrator and artist living in Los Angeles. In 2014, she received an MA with honors, emphasizing in painting and illustration, from California State University, Northridge. Through a combination of drawing, painting, collage, and printmaking her personal work focuses on the complex relationships within the family. Her commercial work has appeared on album covers, animated documentary shorts, and alternative media including branding and various publications. Ashley’s work can also be seen featured in American Illustration 31 and 34, Collage Artist of America, and several galleries in Los Angeles. Social Media: @ashleymistriel

Guest Co-Curator, “In the Mix,” with artist and studio mate, Theresa Knopf at Good Eye Gallery in Eagle Rock, CA. “In the Mix.” The show will feature a group of mixed media and collage-based artists who embrace the process of layering. The exhibition’s opening reception will take place Saturday, November 28th, 2015, from 3-6pm, and run through Saturday, January 9th, 2016. 

Ashley Mistriel will also be a participating artist in Giant Robot 2’s annual “Post It Show 11,” featuring over 300 artists and curated by Mark Todd, Esther Pearl Watson, and Eric Nakamura. The opening reception will be Saturday, December 5th, 2015 from 4-10pm.