Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Local Artist Spotlight: A Fly Design


Ashley LaRue is the owner of a business called A Fly Design, a graphic design company she runs out of her home in Grinnell, Iowa. She is lucky enough to be doing what she loves... Graphic design, custom drawings, custom paintings, hand painted murals, photography, photo editing, glass (acid) etching, hand made custom beads which she uses in her hand-made hemp jewelry, scrapbooking, tattoo design (design on paper only, she has never tattooed someone), and she makes several types of hand made gifts.

You might remember seeing one of her photographs in the post we ran a couple of weeks ago that featured Caustic Vision. I loved the style and creativity of this photograph, but didn't realize at the time that she was capable of doing more than photography. Since that article was published, Ashley and I were able to connect through the powers of social networking, and only then did I realize her potential and the capabilities that she possessed. We talked about her involvement with Caustic Vision and her transformation from working a "real" occupation to doing what she loves, what she refers to as her "dream" job. She is very articulate and focused, and very dedicated to her craft. She has years and years of experience, and with that comes confidence and pride.

After realizing what her potential was, I asked her about designing a logo for the Bigfoot Diaries. In just a day or two, I had several options to look at. She could have emailed them to me, but Ashley actually drove from Grinnell to Des Moines to show them to me in person... About 55 miles! Our entire meeting lasted 15 minutes, but I was able to see several design options, and even chose two that I liked very much. (We will be displaying them very soon on this site, so stay tuned.) Since that time, I have been in constant communication with Ashley and have found that she is extremely easy to work with, and very professional in every aspect of what she does.

Because Rock and Roll goes hand in hand with Art, and because Ashley is essentially doing what we hope to do one day; turn our hobby into a means of making a living, I thought that she and her company would make for a nice feature in The Bigfoot Diaries. We are after all, all about the little guy!

She gladly accepted my invitation to answer a few questions pertaining to her life and her company...

How did you come up with the name of your company, A Fly Design?

I created the name in my first semester of graphic design school. The "A" stands for my first name. I love dragonflies, they represent change, and at the time I felt like studying graphic design would change my life so I incorporated a dragonfly into my logo. I do all sorts of design, so that word explains itself. In the image of my logo, the dragonfly's flight path makes a cursive "L" which represents my (married) last name. The whole phrase is kind of play on words because "fly" also represents sort of a slang for "cool" or "hip".

Have you always been so artistic?

I realized my love for drawing and painting when I was 14. I saw a picture of a rose one day and just told myself to sit down and draw it. After that I found myself spending every free moment drawing or painting. I took just about every art class possible in high school. I was in 4H all through school and won Top Visual Artist several years in a row, and all of my drawings went to State Fair. All but one received a purple ribbon.

How did you go from working in a "real" occupation to doing your "dream" job?

For quite some time my "dream" was to become a tattoo artist. Finding someone to teach that, and teach it correctly, is hard to come by. For now, I just stick to designing them. After high school I began studying to be a paralegal, with hopes of being offered a position practicing that at the law firm I worked for. One morning at work, I was taking a break while talking to a coworker (who happened to be a high school art teacher in the past). I was looking at a Kleenex box and drawing a rose. My coworker looked over my shoulder and said "Ashley dear, what the hell are you doing working here? You should be in art school!" That statement just kind of stuck in the back of my mind. After I left the law firm and decided I never wanted to work for a lawyer again, I transferred into the Graphic Design program at DMACC. I guess in a way, I took my coworkers advice. It worked out, I've been on the Dean's list or the President's list at DMACC every semester since I started the program. I did take a break for a couple years when I had my daughter, but am now back in school and plan to graduate next year.

So is A Fly Design the only "job" you hold right now?

I am a full time production designer for ASI-Signage Innovations, which is the largest Architectural Signage company in the United States. My career at ASI has taught me ADA Guidelines/Regulations and Wayfinding. I've been there for about 4-1/2 years now, though it does not seem like it has been that long.

Are you willing and capable of taking on anything... Even custom projects?

Basically, if you have a project in mind, tell me about it, and I can make it happen. My design services are based on a flat fee. I do this because I am a perfectionist, and I don't feel like I should charge my client by the hour when I know I'm going to take my sweet time on it, just because I want to make sure it looks good. I free lance design part time from my home. I am always willing to travel to meet a client though.

Does your company have a website?

My current web page is via Facebook. (Link)

Do you have a favorite art form?

I love all forms of art. Ever since the day my coworker told me I should study art, I have known that designing is what I'm supposed to do. I love when someone approaches me with an idea then I take that and turn it into something real. It's a very euphoric feeling for me. It's a way to express a side of myself that people don't see on a daily basis. I read a quote recently, that really describes my feelings "Only through art, can we get outside ourselves" - Marcel Proust

Very nice... Where do you see yourself in 5 and 10 years?

In 5 years I see myself freelancing just as I do now. In 10 years, I see myself holding several major accounts, for design services. This question is really hard. I've never put a lot of thought into where I would be that far down the road!

Are you affiliated with other bands besides Caustic Vision?

The only band I really have an affiliation with is Caustic Vision (Grinnell, Iowa). My affiliation started with them because their guitarist Ryan (Rev) Hall and I met when we where in high school, in an art class ironically! I knew he always had a passion for music, and he knew I had a passion for art. We have just remained very good friends since then. He had asked me several times to come watch his band (Caustic Vision) perform, but my schedule just never jived with their performances. One night I happened to be in Des Moines, and I had my camera with me. I told Ryan I was FINALLY going to come watch him play a the Hull Avenue Tavern. I just started taking pictures, and ended up filling my memory card! All the guys loved the pictures, and taking pictures for them just became routine for me. They even invited me to a practice session so I could do some "studio style" photos of them. I started going to more and more of their shows, filling my cards every time. There's just something about hearing the music I love filling my ears, while doing something I love. Again, a euphoric feeling. I've also done a couple of design pieces for them. Through hanging out at the shows, jam sessions and just spending time around the guys and their families, I got to know all of them and what they're about. I have a great deal of respect for them. They have all contributed to me building my portfolio, and I will forever be grateful.


Caustic Vision by Ashley LaRue

You are so busy! Do you ever get down time? What do you do when you are not working?

Aside from designing, I enjoy spending time with my family, riding and training my horses, teaching the occasional riding lesson, reading, watching movies and running. I just recently started participating in 5k charity events...it's kind of a stress reliever.

What's the best way for people to get a hold of you if they are interested in using your services?

The best way is email which is a.fly.design21@gmail.com. Phone works well too...but a lot of times I have to let my voice mail catch it. I will always call back the same day though within reasonable hours. That number is (641) 990-6990.

Like local musicians, local artists need our support too... I have been extremely pleased in my dealings (and results) from working with Ashley LaRue. Please contact her if you have any artistic needs... I am positive you will be delighted with what her company has to offer! 

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