Artist Spotlight: Ashley Brooke Cooper Interview
What inspired you to be an artist? How old were you when you thought about becoming an artist?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be an artist. When I was very little my mom would give my sister and I one super-thick, phonebook-sized coloring book at a time and insist that we color every single page. It took a while but at the end every My Little Pony or Barbie or Little Mermaid would be a child masterpiece. When I was a little older we lived in a neighborhood with only boys my age and I got into reading comic books and playing videogames. The first pin-up I ever drew was of Elvira from a poster of the monster truck Grave Digger one of the boys had on his wall. From there my tastes developed onto fine artists and my first love in painting was Claude Monet. At the age of 10 I was painting master copies of his sea-side works on an easel in the front yard, pretending that the tide was rising and I had to lash my easel down to keep my work from floating away.
How do you think being a professional woman pin up artist differs from the male professional artists who draw pin up?
I think in order to be a female pin-up artist you have to have a thicker skin for sexuality and a quicker wit. It’s just accepted as “normal” for a man to draw sexy women, no one thinks any differently of them, but as a woman you have to be able to take the sexist “jokes” and throw them right back without blinking an eye. More assumptions are made if the artist is a woman than if they are a man. You have to be ok with bawdy language and innuendo if you want to be part of the club. A male pin-up artist is simply praised as a good artist while the woman pin-up artist sees a lot more of the wink wink nudge nudge commentary about their work.
Has your source of inspiration changed since you first became an artist? If so, what consistently still keeps you inspired as a professional?
I’m always inspired by the world around me. Over the years I have had different favorites like Alphonse Mucha or the Pre-Raphaelites, Lawrence Alma Tadema or Tamara de Lempicka, but I always just keep my eyes open. It’s not always visual stimulation, I am also inspired by music, literature, film etc. The world is a rich place and if you’re bored then you’re boring. I have many interests and talents that also inspire me. I make jewelry and clothing so fashion is a passion of mine as well. I also do costuming for film which keeps me on my toes and forces me to be detail oriented.
What are your guilty pleasures, as an artist that you love drawing?
I’ve always had an intense love of Egyptology. Their painted eyes and the intricate detailing of their architecture, jewelry and clothing is fascinating for me but my main obsession is mermaids. If I could go into the sea I would.
If you could give a few words of advice for any young women pursuing art as a career, what would they be?
To young women who want to become artists I say: Be awesome, be creative at problem solving, be super passionate, and always look good, because the sad truth is that you will be judged by your appearance, and most importantly STAY FOCUSED on what you want to achieve and make strides toward it every day. Even if that stride is something small like doing a new sketch every day it’ll be a small step closer to your goals. And finally, never listen to criticism unless it is constructive. Don’t let anyone tell you your subject matter or style is wrong. If it comes from you it’s right for you.