For our first Maker of the Month for 2016, we introduce you to illustrator and zine maker extraordinaire Ashley Ronning. From her studio in Brunswick, Ashley sketches plants, ponders the cosmos, and explores anxiety with illustration. Her risograph creations are often dark and twisty, but also colourful and comical. She's also the maker behind our very own Guide to North Melbourne map! You can now pick up a copy in store, before taking it out for a test run in our wonderful neighbourhood.
Can you please tell us a little about yourself and your craft?I live in a quiet corner of Brunswick in a 1950s-built, 1970s-renovated house with some good friends. I work in my studio just a short bike ride away from home, where I make my illustrations, zines and other projects. I grew up in Canberra and don’t go back to visit often enough! It was a great place to be as a kid, but I needed a change when I was old enough to flee the nest.
How did you first get started in illustration?
I was planning to stay in Canberra for university to study politics, but realised that it was absolutely not for me. Shillington College in Melbourne had the perfect graphic design course, and it wasn’t until after Shillington that I realised illustration was a possibility as a career! As for zines, I first saw them at small bookshops in Canberra and zine queen Vanessa Berry came to town to put on a zine workshop. She had me hooked!
What has the journey been like since those early days?
I felt a huge change when I met other illustrators and makers in Melbourne. It’s so amazing to have a go-to-gang for advice and support. I suppose my practice made a huge leap last year when I switched to full time. It has its stressful moments, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Can you give us some insight into your creative process?
I get ideas from exhibitions, books, music or conversations, and often sketch out some ideas until I fall in love with something that I want to make into a drawing, print or zine. When I’m ready to begin the final piece, I make a rough sketch, refine it a little, and then ink over the top. If I’m risographing it, I’ll usually just draw the line work and then add layers of colour in photoshop, before churning it through the riso.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I usually wake up, sneak around the room in the dark so I don’t wake up the boyf, feed Fritz the cat, have some toast, hop on my bike to the studio, put on a pot of tea and fire up the computer. If I’m not feeling very inspired, I’ll organise online orders or answer emails, then I’ll usually do drawing in the middle of the day, and then risograph printing at the end of the day if I have printing to do. I do so many different projects so every day is different. Afterwards I’ll either head home to hang out with Fritz or go to an exhibition or gig.
What do you draw inspiration from?
For over a year now I’ve been really inspired by space – I find it endlessly fascinating. I’ve also drawn a lot of inspiration from my trip to Japan last year, friends’ art, exhibitions, sci-fi books and films, and nature.
What are you reading at the moment?
Men Like Gods by H.G. Wells.
If we rummaged through your grocery bag, what would we find?
Pasta, pesto, zooper doopers, bread, broccoli, pumpkin.
Can you tell us the first thing that pops into your mind when we mention the word …
Weekends ... Halloumi for breakfast
People ... Sometimes
Pause ... Record player
Sound ... B-52s
Smell ... Tea
Place ... Tokyo
Texture ... Corduroy
Ritual ... Risograph
Colour ... Rainbow
What's one thing you can't live without at the moment?
What are your words of wisdom?