Interview by Madeleine Dore
Art by Ashley Ronning
I get crushes on artworks the same way one might get a crush on that friendly barista who serves you coffee each morning. You might be looking at a painting, digesting a piece of prose, or listening to a melody and suddenly you're filled with an inexplicable sense of wonder.
Maybe I'm not alone here. Coming across new work can feel as if you've come eye to eye with the person you fancy, butterflies felt all the way from the back of your throat through to your fingertips. Developing such crushes too frequently to count, I've decided to share work by some of the talented individuals who make me weak at the knees. Kicking off with Melbourne illustrator Ashley Ronning, the Creative Crush series will feature illustrators, artists, poets, photographers and more.
From flora and fauna tinted with fluorescents, to everyday objects outlined in ink or brought to life through vibrant pastels, illustrator Ashley Ronning creates absorbing worlds within her comics and illustration works. Drawing since she could pick up a pencil, she has since studied graphic design but a child-like curiosity remains.
Her work explores the playful and the other-worldly, as well as offering simple meditations on life’s confusions and mysteries. As approachable as she is thoughtful, Ronning has a way of making sense of our inner-most thoughts we often bashfully hide.
Based in a studio in Brunswick, Melbourne, Ronning divides her time between editorial illustrations, exhibition work, risograph printing, creating zines and is warming up to the idea of working on her first book. She is also one half of Caldera Press, a small printing and publishing collective based specialising in zines and art prints.
In the first of our Creative Crush series, Ronning shares some of her rituals, provides thoughts on the creative process and what can sometimes get in the way, and ponders what it means to live an extraordinary life.
On quirky rituals and routines...
A bike ride to the studio in the morning is a great wake up and gets me ready to go. Then I put on a pot of tea and a podcast and I'm totally in the zone. I'm really into economics podcasts at the moment, can't get enough of them.
While I worked at home when I first started freelancing full time, I'd sing loudly to my favourite albums and get heaps done – I miss that!
It would be a bit hard to do in the space I have at the moment, where there can be up to ten people working here during the day. They don't need to hear my singing.
On the pitfalls of social media...
Social media is one of my downfalls, especially lately. I combat that with a program called StayFocusd that puts a timer on my Facebook use!
On learning to say no...
I am also learning to say 'no' to projects. I find this one really hard! A lot of lovely people email me about getting involved in their fantastic ideas, but I've realised it sometimes sidetracks me from my personal projects and future goals.
On what it means to live an extraordinary life...
Find a way to do what you love, or find something you can change or focus on in your own field.
I think creatives often forget to value personal time and socialising. I often get stuck into a project and find myself in the studio way past sunset. I have to remind myself often that time away from my desk can contribute to better work later.