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Meet Ashley Johnson of aej.create

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Johnson.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’ve always been a creative person. As a kid, I expressed myself through dance, sports, and wrote poetry. I was more of a builder, playing with Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs, but I also really enjoyed my spirograph and boondoggle. I was all over the place.

My first official major in college was computer science at SUNY Buffalo. I really enjoyed the abstract aspects of building a world with code. It wasn’t my passion, but it was a lot of fun. A couple years in my Dad passed away suddenly, and my world was flipped upside down. I took a semester off to reset and decided to switch majors and transfer schools. I ended up in an art program at Daemen, a much smaller private school with a completely different vibe. I pursued a general art degree, but never ended up graduating.

Now, I share a studio space with 3 other talented artists and switch between working from home or in the studio. It usually depends on what type of work I have to do and what kind of mood my son is in. I’m a single mom, so life is constantly finding a balance between meeting his needs, meeting my own, and finding the time to create. Most of the time I try to give him a smaller kid-friendly version of what I have so we can work together. Life is a crazy, beautiful, paint-filled mess!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I think my biggest challenge is balancing being an entrepreneur and a single mom.

There’s this expectation to be constantly hustling and working your ass off to the point that everything else goes to the wayside, and motherhood is equally demanding. I try my best to follow my personal flow and not give in to what other people deem acceptable, and do what’s right for my son and me instead.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about aej.create – what should we know?
I’m an artist, I’m currently a painter, but I’m in the middle of shifting my work from 2D to 3D and testing out new painting techniques. I’m best known for my distinct style and process; I don’t use a paintbrush and rely heavily on gravity and elements of chance.

Every once in a while I’ll jump on IG live so people can see a little behind the scenes of how paintings come to fruition. It’s taken me about a year and a half to nail down the technique and feel confident in producing work in that style.

All my current paintings are circular and incorporate geometry, and although I love this series, I’m excited about the progression of my work. Being an artist is so much more than what most people imagine. I’m proud of how far I’ve come in such a short period of time. When I pause and look back at what I’ve accomplished in the last 3 years it really blows my mind.

I’m proud of what I’ve put into this, and how much determination and hard work pay off.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I think balance is essential. I’m constantly chasing it and it’s always going to be something I’m working towards.

For example, making sure I’m putting the work into my painting practice, but knowing when to put that work into self-care (I’m the type of person that gets into a flow state and will rely on pizza to get me through instead of veggies), or knowing what my boundaries and limitations are, but also knowing when to push through them or be flexible.

I think the second most important characteristic is authenticity. I’m not talking about that bullshit people are throwing around on social media, I’m talking about the true to yourself, aligned with your soul, unfiltered, not trying to impress people, who you are at your core kind of authentic. A lot of people preach it, but few live it. It isn’t always easy, but it makes things worth it.

When you live authentically, you aren’t living for anyone but yourself. You’re not doing it for the gram, or your parents, or your partner, you’re doing it for you. People will smell your bullshit and know when you’re trying too hard to impress them, and that will absolutely hinder your success.

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Image Credit:
Stephanie Dubin, Ryan Kell

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