Apart from being a creative, you’re also a risographer operator/printer - can you give us a little bit of insight into how you go into this line of work and what it is about riso printing you love?

I was first introduced to risograph when I saw a show at Lamington Drive called Risographica. I was hooked! The colours and textures really caught my eye, and then I discovered more about it that made me love the process like how suited it is to zine making and how sustainable it is compared to other print methods. I snapped one up off gumtree about a year later and I haven’t stopped since.

Have you been met with any challenges as an artist along the way? (Personally or professionally)

I’m constantly challenged by this weird art life. The irregular income, tricky clients and bouts of creative block are probably the hardest to deal with. Those things will never go away but I’m slowly learning to manage them better.

What does body confidence mean to you? Is it something you’ve ever struggled with and why?

I have always struggled with confidence about my body since I was a teenager, and the struggle changes its form as I grow older. To me, having confidence in my body means I can forget about those worries for a while and concentrate on doing my work and having fun in my down time.

Can you please share a little about how you go into creating artwork and how you’d describe your style?

I’ll usually start with a purpose for the artwork - maybe I want to try out a new technique or I’m interested in exploring a particular subject. Then I’ll do some very messy sketches, some less messy sketches, I’ll draw the final line work and then scan it in and colour it in photoshop. I’d describe my style as wobbly and weird.

Do you tend to create from personal experience or from observing the experiences of others?

I usually create from my own experience or through the lens of a fictional experience.

What’s it like being a woman in the creative industry? Do you find that it has its challenges at times?

There are great things and crap things about being a woman in this industry. There’s definitely some big challenges, like being taken seriously by others and learning to take myself seriously. 

What’s your favourite part about your body and why?

My hands are incredibly important to me, we’ve gone through a lot of injuries and have worked very hard on getting them back to normal. They’re still not perfect but I don’t take them for granted any more.

What’s your idea of empowerment?

To me empowerment means that you have total control over your life and your actions, there are no barriers between yourself and what you need.

What message do you have for those who are struggling with body confidence/self-love/weight or appearance issues? – What’s helped you in the past?

I’m still struggling with these things, I find the thing that helps the most is surrounding myself with amazing and loving people who love me the way I am.

Praise You isn’t just about raising awareness for eating disorders and celebrating body positivity – it’s also shining the light on female support in the creative community, in saying that, what does inclusivity and its importance mean to you?

Inclusivity is incredibly important to me, if our feminism isn’t intersectional then it isn’t real feminism. It’s important to make space for everyone regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ability, religion and ethnicity. We also have to hand over extra time and space to marginalised people. 

Since Praise You started in 2017 we’ve started to see a shift in the conversation with creative women, being more open about their journey and eliminating competition - Have you noticed this yourself and have you ever dealt with competition?

Competition between creative people is awful. I find that at least here in Melbourne, the more creative people collaborate and help each other, the more we grow together.

How do you deal with the dreaded comparison bug?

It’s so hard to avoid the bug! If I feel I’m comparing myself to someone, I try to step back and see what I can learn from their journey, and then I get my head down and get to work on my own stuff.

When it comes to female support – what comes to mind for you? Is it positive or negative?

It can definitely be both, I try to push myself towards the female friendships and working relationships that are healthy and wonderful. There’s no point investing time in someone that’s going to be nasty to you.

Do you have any mantras or words to live by?

Be yourself and be kind to others.

What advice what you give your 18-year-old self if you could?

Being an illustrator can totally be a real job! Start drawing as much as you can right now! Read more comics!

Your dream job/project/collaboration – tell us about it? (Have you already worked your dream job?)

I worked on a pretty incredible collaboration with jewellery maker and resin artist Rosaleen Ryan for a group exhibition. We created a colourful resin desk set for a space explorer - including a magnifying glass, petrie dishes and a terrarium. I learnt so so much in that time, I’m so happy that Rosie wanted to work with me.

What the biggest risk you’ve taken to date? What were the pressure points and was it worth it?

Quiting my cafe job for freelance work was pretty stressful! I had whittled down my cafe shifts to one day a week and then I was off into full-time freelance. I was earning just enough money to get by but learnt so much in that first year, and now I’m about five years in!

How do you keep up your creative momentum? Where do you look to for the drive to create?

Routine is so important for my creative momentum. I go to my studio five days a week at the same time everyday and I just get to work. If I let this routine slide I’d get nothing done! I also find that consuming a lot of creativity - through exhibitions, comics and music - helps fuel me to make my own work.

How has your work and practice developed over time?

It’s usually just little incremental developments over time - like getting slightly better at not apologising in emails and developing my drawing skills. I feel like this year I’ve gone through a big change as a person and I want to push my work harder than before.

Who’s work are you currently loving right now and why?

I’m absolutely obsessed with Natalie Andrewson lately, she’s an incredible illustrator and also has a beautiful mastery over colour with her risograph prints. I’m subscribed to her patreon where I can see a little more of the work-in-progress side and I’m soaking up as much knowledge as I can.

As you’ve gotten older – how has your perception of your body and confidence changed?

I thought all the big body changes were past me but it just won’t stop! I’m trying to focus more on just being healthy rather than changing specific things about myself. Being healthy and happy is the most important thing to me.

Social media has been on a pretty interesting journey over the past few years - where do you see it now as opposed to two years ago? 

Oh my gosh I used to post almost every day and now I can’t keep up with even one post a week. It has become so difficult for me as my standard for myself has risen so much in the last few years. I think I have to re-think that and let myself go a bit more.


Instagram: @ashleyronning