Feature Friday: Ashley Olinger

Happy Feature Friday! 

This week we are featuring Ashley Olinger, a Pittsburgh based freelance illustrator and designer! If you’re a fan of color, gradients and simplistic yet bold design you’ll find all of it on the stickers, pins, and cards she makes for her store, YEAHYELHSA. We love Ashley’s perspective on finding inspiration on the fly, creating in the moment and examining the ordinary. We definitely think these perspectives and her willingness to keep experimenting shows in the spirit of her work! To learn more about Ashley’s design journey, read on!

: Tell us a little about yourself.

: My name is Ashley! I am almost 23. I am a freelance illustrator & designer living in Pittsburgh. I love bright colors and thick lines, and I spend my free time screen printing and going to shows.

: You have a very distinct artistic style and we love it! How would you describe your aesthetic and what led you to design in such a bright, bold way?

: My aesthetic is just a mixture of all of the things I liked growing up; I’ve always tried to force every color of the rainbow into whatever it is I’m making. I’m also really terrible at drawing in perspective so my style was sort of born in that as well. I guess it was always there somewhere inside of me, but it took some time to figure out how to make it work in the right way.

: How did you come up with your shop and brand name, YEAHYELHSA and what can we expect to find in your shop or by following you on social media?

: I get asked this a lot – it’s actually just the word “yeah” and then my name spelled backwards. I like alliteration but my name does not have it, so I improvised. My shop mostly consists of super colorful goods like pinback buttons, notebooks, and greeting cards. Expect a lot of gradients.

: What has been your favorite design you’ve created so far or your favorite type of work to create?

: My favorite type of work to create is usually the unplanned. Like, if I visit a new place and the setup of the room is really interesting to me, it sort of gets stuck in my head like a song and then I try to get home and crank out the illustration before I lose it. 

: We love your #HoldThisInYourMind series! Explain to us the concept behind it and how you get inspo for each piece you create for it.

: Hold This is essentially a visual diary for all of my experiences in 2016. I started it during a rather tumultuous time in my life, and just as I had begun working in the style you see today. Each day I recorded everything I did, and then I would translate it into a diary entry of sorts. All of the icons represent a person, place or thing I had experienced, and then each of the five colors used represent a different mood, so those correspond with how I was feeling that day. Documenting these occurrences allowed me to find patterns within myself, whether they were good or bad, and provoked me to take a closer look at how I could become better in certain areas of my life. The icons turned into this visual language that only I can understand, so I can look back on any of those pieces and tell you exactly what happened that day. I would say it’s the most important thing I’ve created so far.

: Tell us the story behind opening your own Etsy shop! What has the process been like and what’s your favorite part about it?

: I was having my portfolio reviewed right after school by a local designer, and he pointed to one of my illustrations and said, “So, are you selling this stuff anywhere? This would look great on a pillow.” So I opened a shop! It’s been a lot of work, and I still have a lot more to do, but it’s pretty rewarding to have complete strangers digging my work enough to actually purchase it.

: How has your artistic journey changed since you started and what kind of challenges and growth have you experienced along the way?

: I think it’s always changing as long as I’m growing. Lately, I feel caught in this love triangle with design and illustration, and this pressure to fully commit to one or the other. I went to school for design and I’ve known it longer, but I feel like I have more in common with illustration and my endgame is to be doing mostly that type of work. I’ve also worked at a lot of places this past year (as a graphic designer) which has been challenging for a number of reasons, but it’s helped me to better navigate what I want out of my career. 

: It seems like you get a lot of inspiration from your surroundings! What kinds of things stand out to you in your environment? And how would you suggest others find inspiration or the ability to use their surroundings to influence their art?

: I like making work that revolves around objects we might interact with on a daily basis, but often get overlooked as being of value. I think a lot of my illustrations end up breathing new life into things we’ve become used to by injecting them with weirdo perspective and super bright colors. My advice to others is to pay attention to your surroundings and draw everything you see. Eventually you’ll make a little squiggle with your pen and everything will start to come together.

: What are your future plans for YEAHYELHSA? Any new projects or products that we can look forward to?!

: I have a lot on the horizon for 2017 but what I’m most excited about is working with new mediums. I started painting again, and I’ve been experimenting with risograph printing so my work has been adapting to the limitations of that which has been resulting in some interesting compositions. 

: Do you have any advice for other artists?

: Milton Glaser did a fantastic lecture for Creative Mornings from which I will loosely quote him: “The moment you think you’ve figured it all out, you’ve failed.”

Check out more of Ashley’s work at the links below:

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