When I first came across Ashleigh Sharmaine’s work I couldn’t help but noticed that it was laced with all of these childhood cartoons and black television/film references. It captured me, like most of her fans and changed my life for the better. Knowing this, I had to track her down and find some time to interview her to learn more about her imagination and how she got so deep into this work of art she continues to produce.
Who are you and what do you do? What inspired you to become an artist?
My name is Ashleigh Sharmaine and I’m a freelance artist. When I first realized I wanted to become an artist, was when I was in fourth grade, for art class we had to always draw or paint using different materials for a grade. It opened my eyes to a new world.
Where are you from?
I’m originally from Massachusetts but I reside in Mississippi.
What’s your go-to equipment when tasked with illustrating a new piece?
My go-to equipment for creating new pieces is my Samsung Galaxy S III and my Samsung Mega. I create all my illustrations on my phone.
How long have you been doing art? How did you get started?
I’ve been drawing ever since I can remember. I started off drawing random stuff and then as I got older I starting progressing and stuck with it.
In your art, you tend to blend icon black films with cartoon characters from several different era’s. What sparked you to come up with that idea? What’s your favorite piece and why?
I wanted to come up with something unexpected and signature [it] with a little nostalgia included. My favorite piece is myLove & Basketball piece since it’s one of my favorite movies of all time.
Recently you’ve just put out a piece based upon ‘Black Love’ for Valentine’s Day. Featuring classic TV couples why did you feel it was important to showcase this in your art?
With the Black Love piece, I wanted to create a positive piece representing the African American culture and Valentines [Day] so, I started the Black Love Series.
Where do you find your inspiration or next idea for a piece you’re gearing up to work on?
I find inspiration in everyday life and music.
Knowing that you use a ton of cartoon shows for inspiration for your pieces. Exactly which TV show would is your favorite?
What do you tell a kid out there that may be thinking about getting into producing original art but don’t know where to start? What do you wish you knew 5 years ago?
I would tell him/her to create for yourself and then for others, simply meaning just do you and supporters will follow. Five years ago, I wish I knew I would be this successful in my artistry.
What’s your ultimate goal at the end of the day when sharing your gift with the world? What do you want your legacy to be?
My ultimate goal for my artistry is to be widely known as a loved and respected artist. [I’d also like] to expand my art onto different platforms like a high demand clothing line, new series of cartoons, coloring books etc.
Who are the top five music artists that inspire you the most? Why?
Top five music artists that inspire me the most are Nina Simone, she’s bold in her lyrics and stands behind what she believes in. Indie Arie, she’s all about self-love and women empowerment. Tupac, he’s a true lyricist, deep and poetic with it as well as Kendrick Lamar and J Cole. A lot of old school late 70s,80s,90s artist Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye etc.
What is the toughest thing you had to get through in relation to your art? How did you get through it? What helped?
Toughest thing I had to get through [when] dealing with my art is adjusting to the people selling my artwork or erasing my watermarks and adding their touch to it, claiming that it’s theirs. Getting over it, I tried to look at the positive side of things and just continue creating. Family and supporters help me get through it, just encouraging me to keep creating and don’t let it stop me from doing what I’m doing.
Will there ever be an Ashleigh Sharmaine creation using Toy Story characters? If you had to think of something off the top of your head right now on how you’d flip it, what would you do?
I would love to do a Toy Story mash up with the 90s show Action League that came on Nicktoons or I would take Buzz Lightyear and have him as the astronaut in Gravity. Then I would do Woody in Cowboys vs Aliens and the [Little Green Men] as the Real Monsters cartoon.
What keeps your going when you hit a creative block and want to stop altogether?
Usually, when I have a creative block it’s because I’m overwhelmed or stressed, but if I just take a time out and listen to my music, I slowly get back into my groove.
What’s next for Ashleigh Sharmaine Art?
I have my hands in a few different things, officially starting my clothing line, new line of coloring books just expressing myself in different outlets.
What makes you a Stereo Champion (A winner)?
My faith makes me a Stereo Champion.