Check out our DR. Martens selection at the link below and keep scrolling to learn more about Ashley Olivieri’s artistic universe, her character Drew and her recent collaboration with Dr. Martens.
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Hi Ashley! For those who don’t know you yet, please introduce yourself. Hi, my name is Ashley Olivieri and for the past 6 years, I’ve been exploring what it means to be human, with the help of idioms and a hand-drawn character I created named Drew.
When did you start to make art? Who were the first artists to inspire you? I guess it’s the only thing I’ve ever really done. As a kid, there was no subject in school or career path that I really gravitated towards except for drawing, and making. It’s all I’ve ever really done consistently. Everything I end up doing always just comes back to making art. It was my high school art teacher who encouraged me to apply to the Fine Arts program, and really, it just kept snowballing from there. I’ve had some really inspiring art teachers along the way. I think that their ability to transmit their passion for creating and appreciating artwork was the most inspiring thing! Those teachers were the ones to open the floodgates of inspiration.
How did you get hooked or what made you love it? I like that I can make something, and someone else can relate to it, or see something completely different in it. I think that's what I love most about making, and that’s what keeps me excited about it. The conversations and connections that are made because of art, that’s what is truly amazing. Where do you get most of your inspirations? Oh boy! That is a wild rabbit hole. Conversations with friends and new people often plant the seeds for new drawings. I’ve kept lists in my phone of random words, or phrases that I like, or that have a stronghold on me- I try to grow ideas from there. I really enjoy using idioms as a base for my work, the duality of words really excites me, and I feel they are ripe for exploring. What is your favourite medium? That’s easy! A classic HB pencil. And just plain black ink with a fine paintbrush. It really just depends on my mood.
Do you have any pieces that you are particularly proud of and why? Each piece is so unique and is made in such different mind frames, and times that it is incredibly difficult to just choose one. I do find myself often finishing something and saying it’s my favourite. Your art universe often features the simple line drawings of your character "Drew". Who is Drew and how did this project come to be? Drew was created in October 2016 as a durational illustration project. Drawing one illustration per day for 100 days, "Drew Does" experimented at the intersection of art and design. By using Drew as a vessel to explore the boundaries of accessibility and connection, I explored the question: Can human emotions be distilled to a few charismatic, loose pencil strokes?
In 2017 The Letter Bet Gallery in Montreal hosted "Drew Exposed," a show featuring exclusively unique pieces including limited edition illustrations, rings, ceramics, and handcrafted tote bags. Through Drew, the show meditated on how self-healing can be at once playful, profound, and constantly evolving. Notably, it also signalled Drew's shift from a digital to a physical gallery space, allowing viewers to interact with the character in new ways.
I pinch myself when I think that “Drew Exposed” completely sold out, such an insane achievement for my first show. I wish I took more pictures of what the space and the work featured in the show looked like.
And then in December 2018, I presented my second solo show, which was met with similar enthusiasm. With "Drew Feels" I marked the start of a new mission; to bridge the gap between youth and adulthood. I wanted to explore and demonstrate that emotional sincerity is worth the risk at any age.
Drew’s characteristic wit and a minimal aesthetic allow me to explore, and delve into the unknown. I continue to expand Drew’s world by using a surprising variety of materials and methods, nothing is off-limits!
You’ve embroidered your drawings on clothing and are about to apply your signature Drew imagery on a pair of Dr. Martens. Have you always been interested in fashion or is it something that came later? In my attempt to always try new things, explore new mediums and challenge myself to expand on my skill set, embroidering on fabric was something I naturally gravitated towards. Being able to transfer my illustrations on clothing seems like the perfect way for my work to travel freely. I like that it allows other people to see Drew outside of a phone screen or picture frame. Apparel, Tote Bags & Jewelry are amongst some of the things I’ve tried my hand at, and I love it! I’m definitely no expert and have had many friends teach me new skills but I am constantly in awe of all the ways that I can bring Drew to life. Can you give us a brief explanation of the story behind the graphics that will be featured on your Dr. Martens collab? I think we can all attest (especially after the year and a half we all just had) that things often don’t work out as we planned. Oftentimes, we just have to go with the flow, no matter how difficult that may be. I intend to create something that has multiple layers of movement, lending itself to the idea that not everything is straightforward. The phrase “go with the flow” is generally something that is said to someone who is trying to alter or control a situation, therefore having a visual that seems a little more fun and whimsical and wavy, for me, hits the right chord. The duality of it all is very Drew. What’s next for Ashley Olivieri? For once, I’m happy to say that I’m not really sure. I’m just taking it all day by day, and going with the flow.
FOLLOW ASHLEY ON INSTAGRAM @ashleyolive AND STAY TUNED FOR OUR DR. MARTENS CONTEST, COMING UP ON INSTAGRAM!