Louisiana-based pop artist Ashley Longshore, known for her bold portraits and larger-than-life personality, is coming to Bergdorf Goodman. To celebrate the event along with her 5th Avenue store windows, we’re launching a selfie contest on Instagram where the winner will receive their photograph painted by Ashley herself. Before the contest begins on January 11th, we sat down to chat with the artist and ask her a few pressing questions.
Bergdorf Goodman: Describe your aesthetic.
Ashley Longshore: My aesthetic is not pretentious. It is bold, unapologetic, colorful, celebratory, sparkly, humorous and it is not to be ignored. Some of it deals with status and being a woman in society. So, although it may be poking humor at something, it’s also very real to my experience.
BG: Why are you more drawn to topics like pop culture, Hollywood glamour, and American consumerism?
AL: I think being an American and growing up in this culture, it’s impossible to ignore media and status and greed. So much about being an American is about what your wearing, where your living, your pedigree. All of these things are hammered into us by the media. My exploration of these topics stems from me finding my own place in this society. Being an artist and expressing my angst about what that means is the only way I make sense of it all.
BG: What made you decide to call New Orleans home? Would you say the city plays a big role in your creative process? If yes, how?
AL: I got to New Orleans 14 or 15 years ago and the city just pulled me in like a mother would to her big bosom. I felt that this would be a place I could actually create my artwork. I knew that I would have to market myself and travel all over the world to be able to achieve the goals I am striving for, but this city is such a place that celebrates the arts. Whether you are a chef, a musician, a poet, a writer, a painter, a sculptor; this city is absolutely incredible and has perfect soil for creative growth.
This is a place I feel safe creating art. Am I really producing New Orleans art? I don’t paint about the incredible jazz or food culture here; it isn’t the defining subject culture in my art. Me being in a city that makes me feel totally comfortable being myself is what gives me the confidence and the bravery to be able to paint the things I paint.
BG: Bergdorf Goodman has been featured in several of your paintings. How did the collaboration come about, and why did you think BG would be a good home for your work?
AL: There is only one store in the United States that defines luxury and the pinnacle of a true shopping experience and that is Bergdorf Goodman. It is the top of Mount Everest. I think the level of customer service and the incredible collection of clothing; all the way down to the perfume and jewelry, is unparalleled. Isn’t it anyone’s dream to be associated with Bergdorf Goodman? That’s why I chose to reference Bergdorf’s in so many of my paintings. It makes a true statement. It is the top of the top.
The collectors that I have had for the last 20 years are fashionable, fun, and well traveled. They love great food, they love to get around and see what’s hot and new, and they also love a quality experience. For me, customer service is so important and that is why I don’t work with galleries. I love to take care of people who are buying my artwork. I knew that working with Bergdorf Goodman meant people who were interested in my artwork would absolutely have the best experience out there to receive!
BG: Where do you draw inspiration? Who were some of your favorite artists growing up?
AL: I draw inspiration from my travels and my day to day existence as a woman. There’s so much beauty and information flying around us constantly. It’s hard for me not to be inspired all the time! Honestly, inspiration has never been my problem. There is an infinite amount of things that I can paint as my journey as a woman continues.
Favorite Artists: Vanessa Beecroft, Alice Neel, Anh Duong, Kiki Smith, Francesco Clemente, Jeff Koons…I could go on and on! I taught myself how to paint by doing Picasso reproductions.
BG: What is your first memory at Bergdorf Goodman?
AL: The most poignant memory was when I was about 23 years old and I took the train from Providence, Rhode Island to spend the day in New York City. I had just been painting for a few years. I remember walking towards The Plaza and seeing Bergdorf Goodman and staring at the big windows and just thinking to myself, “How do you get here? How does one get to this level?” I just stood there in awe with all of my ambitions in front of me. Now it’s so surreal to have five windows down Fifth Avenue and to be hanging my work on the 7th floor. I could not be more enthusiastic or excited!