Ashley Gray has a dream.
That we start respecting the creative industries as much as they respect and include all of us, nurturing our ambitions and making us grow as human beings. Ashley is an excellent 3D artist with his own, cryptic and somewhat esoteric style, one he has matured over time with the support of others.
In Ashley's life, "others" can be anyone who is willing to support him. His gratitude is eternal and, though he seems to enjoy creating art in solitude and "things in which he can get lost", his love for people is evident and his words betray a deep passion for all things creative.
Ashley Gray has a dream. A dream made of multiple dreams, a world in which he himself can get lost to create his art.
How did you get into the industry?
I studied at Teesside where I was awarded with an MA in Computer Games Art. Once I left university I continued in the art field, initially securing a small amount of work with bands and book covers. I did a little bit of my own stuff in the background and it just grew, I got more offers, talked to more people. I am now based in London and currently work for galleries, small studios, companies, these types of things. My day job is in a library and then I also make a little from my artwork as well.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
It would have to be computer orientated. I like Music quite a lot, so something along those lines. I like things I can get lost in.
Can you explain your creative process?
Most of my ideas come from observation and reflection. I try to connect all these ideas together. It sounds insane but there is a fair bit of uncontentious thought or background thinking going on that skews things, and ideas normally flow from this as a collection of references and a tone or central theme. I put these into an initial form, working out the idea and representations. Then I either complete the piece of work or store the idea for a later date. Clients also approach me with their ideas, there is usually some input in that process from myself.
How has technology affected the way you work (if at all)?
Technology allows me to be an artist and people just keep removing limitations. Now you can CAD model in Zbrush, there is VR 3D drawing and although I don't have Ultra Kit, it is there and it is improving.
I also create videos for clients at times. I would be lost without free open source compression, file transfer programs or video call software for clients. Without technology and its advancements it would just be impossible, so I am very grateful for that.
What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?
I could be locked in a room and I would still be inspired to create for years. Some of my works are from my dreams, so I guess I create in my sleep too. Motivation though, that's a difficult one, because no one has to give me anything. Perhaps because of my family, the relationships I have cultivated as an artist, the people who like my work, my exceptionally patient teachers. Most of the time it's the people who like my work, they are the ones giving me motivation. Some people are very moving when I hear their stories and a lot of the teachers I had seem to go 'above and beyond' for me.
When it's hard for me, I think of those people.
What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?
There are many pieces of my work that I am proud of, but my favourite is the piece called 'Ethereal Blue'. It signifies many things, and unlike a lot of my other works it is more of a tribute. My gratitude is forever, so it would be hard personally to top that in my mind.
How do you recharge away from the office?
My friends and family are the best recharge. They don't really understand the technical side of 3D or art, they provide me with a valuable space away from anything related to my work. I also spend a fair bit of time playing games and listening to music. I enjoy many quiet reflective evenings.
What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives looking for work?
Keep going, change whatever you want, but keep going.
I have seen so many people with so much talent getting lost because something stopped them and it is heart breaking, truly. So use social media, build relationships, refine your work or make something for the place you want to work at and show them. But more important than all of that... Keep going.
What’s your one big hope for the future of the creative industries?
That it keeps it up.
Creative industries are one of the most inclusive and accepting cultures I know. To me, it doesn't care who you are, just what you're about. So my hope is that it is still able to do that for everyone who needs it in the future.
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
There are lots of complaints regarding issues such as workers rights, bullying, sexual harassment, etc. All industries go through these things, I'm sure people have their own examples, and these things need to go.
Every time I hear something like this I think that some people do not show this industry the respect it has shown them. The industry did not become inclusive overnight and it certainly wasn't because of some sort of a 'magical' power. We are the ones that make it inclusive and stable as it is. We need to respect it more by respecting each other as we know we can. You are on show, and that is the biggest gift.