We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Trabue and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashley, is there something you can share with us that those outside of the industry might not be aware of?
Only 14% of living artists that are represented by galleries in North America and Europe are women artists. 96% of artwork sold at auction is art by male artists, and the 4% of art by women sold at these auctions is discounted nearly 50%. And the numbers are even more disparate regarding art by black women and women of color.
Because of this? Artists are realizing they don’t need to rely on these institutions to make a good living from their work, and that’s what I see happening all over the place right now. It’s an exciting time!!
Artists taking their fate into their own powerful and creative hands — with the support of the patrons and communities around them! It’s a great time to invest in living artists and to be one.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I had been a prolific artist (painting! drawing! poetry! photography! collage!) for decades before I ever considered opening a prolific business. Art had always seemed like a lovely hobby but not a very viable career.
As a young child, I was identified by my teachers as gifted in the arts and had my work exhibited in our local community. I carried this tradition of sharing work with me into adulthood, and it wasn’t until my artwork started selling through magazines, galleries, and word of mouth that I realized I had an opportunity present.
Around the same time, I came across the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron which helped me to continue poking holes in the myth of the starving artist, and in the same way I could plan, intuit, and create a new painting, I began doing the same with a business.
With that intention set, suddenly all these pieces around me started to fall in place — a friend in business school helped me put together my first website. I began posting on social media exclusively for my art and began to attract a small following.
I was selling my art online, making money, and dream clients began writing in, and with the support of patrons, friends, mentors, and coaches, I leaned in. I followed the things that felt fun and filled a role in the community around me.
I hosted creativity nights and exhibited my art at local cafes and shops. I learned more about how to structure pricing for profit, file taxes, and elevate my customer care, and just like all the components of an artwork, one day I looked around, and everything felt complete.
I left my teaching job in 2018 to work in my business and have never looked back.
Over the years, my art has held space for women as they celebrate their bodies, deepen their self-love, and heal from things like divorce, eating disorders, and traumas of all kinds. My art has been exhibited throughout the country, is held in private collections throughout North America and Europe, and has been featured in magazines, on fabric, as well as in books and on digital products.
Because mentors have been so helpful to my own development, in 2020, I began giving back by coaching other artists. From deepening their creative practice to launching a business or product of their own, I love helping others to feel into the possibility that exists for them outside the boring old starving artist trope.
I’ve been incredibly fortunate over the years and feel so grateful for all the opportunities around me. Seeing my art and message have a positive impact on those around me has been the greatest joy of my life.
Thanks for giving me space to share!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I was visiting ATL with my besties for the week, we would definitely check-in at the Social Goat Bed and Breakfast which used to be located in the heart of downtown (goats, biscuits and all!) and just recently moved north of the city. We’d catch the latest exhibitions at the High Museum of Art, Hammonds House Museum, and SCAD FASH. The rest of our time would probably be spent eating, drinking, and shopping our way around Atlantic Station!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I shoutout my parents for giving me life, love, and every opportunity to create, and to all my teachers, friends, patrons, mentors, coaches, and people who believed in me before I knew how to believe in myself. To my spouse who supports all my wild ideas with open arms. Thank you. I wouldn’t be here without you all.
I also want to shoutout the book, “The Artist’s Way,” by Julia Cameron without which I may have never woken up to the rich possibilities that exist all around.
Image Credits: Jenna Henderson Photography and Keren Treviño