We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Von Helsing and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashley, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I’ve always believed risk is an essential in understanding the push and pull of life and business and my ability to take them has been due to my early life experiences. Not growing up with a lot of opportunity and living in a rural conservative town, I had no choice but to be mentally ready to jump knowing there was a high chance of failure. The thing is though, is that every time I’ve done a giant nose dive into uncertainty, whether it be packing up and moving to a new town, switching professional careers, or even taking new approaches to art, I’ve grown through the decisions good or bad. If you’re afraid to fail, you’ll never know how how satisfying it is to grow from the unknown.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My journey as an artist has been a rollercoaster to say the least. Visually my art has a really dark undertone which isn’t everyone’s shot of whiskey. My style derived originally from my early love of macabre but also horror movies, as both were an escape from reality and therapy for me to release emotion through imagery. I started in traditional art painting, and fell into photography by accident, which was the catalyst for my love of creating alternate realities in my images. A great thing about discovering your style early is finding your own niche and owning it. The challenge though, especially in the visual realm is that it can polarize your market. It wasn’t until I moved to LA a few years ago that I got a taste of both the demand for what I do, but also the harsh realities of the industry and how quickly people now digest and move on from art. I romanticize constantly about how the creative world was when people didn’t just want content to be seen as cool online, and when shoots weren’t just “sets” that get uploaded in a giant chunk to get a few hundred comments and then be forgotten. When I started creating, I did it to make emotive work, and now we just scroll through the world like an endless feed of things to look at and move on. Mentally that’s been the biggest challenge, and LA amplifies the narcissism and theory that you just need to keep putting out work to be relevant. What I learned from it though, and am still learning, is to not let that cycle of quick digestion get to me. What I want the world to understand from my work is that anything I put out has a story of some sort. It’s never going to be a quick sprint to fill an Instagram feed or jump on a trend. Does that make it a challenge? 100%. The key is to take as much time as you need to solidify your stance and just keep pushing towards what you believe and deserve.
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.
LA is just a massive endless city of things to do, which is what makes it so exciting. Most of the places I recommend are a mixed bag of cool, a little nerdy, a dash of art, and a few sprinkles of nature. First of all, if you’re hanging with me, you’re going to learn to be an early bird. Cafe Stella in Silver Lake and Figaro Bistro in Los Feliz are my go-to hang out spots for morning brunch in an atmosphere that screams “sit down and chill with a giant piece of bread for a while.” Walking the city during the day is also a great way to stumble on unique random treasures of stores, so I’d also say that parking your car and taking a stroll down Magnolia Blvd in Burbank, Melrose Ave, and down the vast and sometimes smelly streets of DTLA is a must. After hitting a mean taco truck, I love going to bars for the low-lit ambience. My favorites are Clifton’s Republic, The Wolves, VDTLA, Beetlehouse, and Bigfoot Lodge. Of course, no week-long trip to California with me is complete without feeling like a kid at Disneyland, and escaping to the mountains of Crestline, and a bunch of antique store adventures in between.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Though I push myself more than I probably should, the support of my closest friends are my number one encouragement squad. They’re like family to me, and push me in ways that expand my mind while making me laugh along the way. I also can’t help but thank some really great deceased guys like Edgar Allen Poe, Hieronymus Bosch, and Alexander McQueen, who have been steady creative catalysts for me for years.