A painter, printmaker, animator, art instructor, community manager, and very creative person in general, Ashley wears a lot of hats. She’s also working hard to help grow Ottawa’s creative communities.

I’m a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Generally I see myself first as a visual artist. I’m also an arts instructor at the City of Ottawa, where I teach traditional printmaking and stop-motion animation for teens and adults. I work full time as an online marketing person, which has sort of segued into the community management and social media field. It’s been really interesting over the past year. I’m new to Ottawa – I’ve moved around a lot. I think of myself as a sort of ‘former nomad.’ But no longer!

I grew up in a small town outside of Barrie. From there, I moved to Burlington for my last couple of years of high school, and then I moved to Mississauga. I went to university at the University of Toronto and Sheridan’s joint program. From there I moved to Kitchener-Waterloo, and then to Bracebridge in Muskoka, and now I’m in Ottawa.

I do think that the space in which you live really affects your life. The things you keep around you, and the physical aspects of the space, that kind of stuff. So I like to get out of the city, and here it only takes 20 minutes, and there are green spaces where you can relax. There’s the canal right in the middle of downtown and almost anything you want if you look hard enough.

How do you feel living in Ottawa has affected your life?

I’m not really sure. It’s hard to get out of yourself and judge that, but I guess I’ve always felt like I’m one of those people who will just go out and do stuff. Now I have the opportunity to do that. When you’re living in smaller places, or places that are temporary, you don’t necessarily take those chances or build those networks, you know?  I feel like the opportunities are here to start doing those things and meeting interesting people, and start connecting with a place on a permanent level. In the last couple of months I’ve started going to events – like, there’s GenY OttawaSocial Media BreakfastCase Study Jam, and different professional networking events. I feel like, okay, I’m finally not about to pack up and leave.

Taking risks and not being afraid to go out and do things by yourself are all part of establishing yourself, I think. I mean, not that I ever was afraid to do those things, but now I really feel that I can contribute. I guess that comfort comes from a background in the arts – living close to Toronto, there were always different galleries and art openings. So if I heard about stuff I would just go. You know, if someone wanted to go with me that’d be great, but if not it’s also fine.

We went to Major’s Hill Park for your photos – why is that an important place to you?

I’ve spent a lot of time in Major’s Hill Park behind the National Gallery. Most of my exploring in Ottawa has ended up there, and there’s always something going on. You know, I’ve stumbled upon a Canadian-Chinese festival and there’ll be lion dance, or Canada Day stuff that happens there. I really enjoy just walking around. On a regular Saturday morning it’s really quiet, and you can just people-watch. It’s nice.

You can view some of Ashley’s beautiful creations and find out more about the printmaking and stop-motion animation classes she offers at, or connect with her on Twitter at @cochinealred.