First Post

I wish I could find my first posts from my old ashdel wordpress site. There weren't many, but I posted about my work and experiments with textile jewelry. They are probably saved somewhere but it would take a while to dig through and find them. I dug up some photos though. Sometimes it's fun to see your early work and compare.

What matters to me right now is there was one other time in my life when I had no job and spent time working on my creative endeavors without anything else on the side. It was January of 2009 when I had just moved from FL to NYC with my boyfriend Mike, who was embarking on a seven-month graduate school residency program with the architecture firm Snohetta. My decision to move up with him was pretty much a no-brainer. Yes I would be moving far away from friends and family but there were few entry level jobs in Florida during the economic collapse of 2009. I was working as a temp and had several part-time jobs in retail for a year and a half since graduating from University of Florida where we met. I figured it was a once in a lifetime opportunity for both of us and was excited for new beginnings. We would move in together after making our long distance relationship work, explore the big city together, join friends who had moved up to NY after college, and I would start my search for an eventual full time job even if it meant another temp job to start. Anything to get me started on my new journey of life basics and with the student loan debt looming over me. 

 Our temporary sublet in Bushwick, Brooklyn in 2009 - celebrating Cassie's birthday

Our temporary sublet in Bushwick, Brooklyn in 2009 - celebrating Cassie's birthday

There was pressure every day to apply for jobs and find something to get me started with paying for the necessities, but some days I made time to create I think also out of necessity. To focus in, or out of the reality of the situation for a moment. Also to revisit an idea I had started a year or so before when I was experimenting with textile jewelry. It wasn't a lot of time but it was enough to make me happy during moments of a stressful yet exciting time where everything was new and changing. Even with the security of 'well at least one of us has a paid job'; it wasn't enough to support us.

While looking for work, in the cold of winter, I worked part time as an unpaid intern at a film distribution company and volunteered at a fairly new art fair focusing on emerging artists, which coincided with The Armory Show. It was something to do to get out of my own head and the anxiousness of applying for jobs. One day Steven Soderbergh walked into the office and another day Ethan Hawke inquired about bringing his dog into the art fair with his baby and then nanny, while I was manning the entry booth. I landed a brief freelance project as a video editor through my friend who was freelancing for a small company. Eventually after a few months, when spring had sprung and mice were having a ball in our sublet apartment, while keeping us awake at night, my next stepping stone / real first job was working as a video editor for tech start up through the same friend.  After a few months, the opportunity to learn front-end development while on the job became an option. With the little experience I had teaching myself HTML + CSS to code my portfolio website after school, I embraced the opportunity. It was challenging but I was determined to learn.

During those couple of years, I learned a lot, while pushing myself, and discovered usability / user experience design and research as an emerging field. I was a volunteer in the Usability Professionals Association (UPA), which changed to the User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA) during the time. Change is constant and being in the user experience field was exciting not only because technology was changing but because it was a fun job. Talking and watching people experience technology and how it fits or doesn't fit into their lives. This propelled me into a five-year stint working as a user experience researcher. While it was exciting and challenging at times, there was always something inside me popping up every once in a while. it was a crazy thought that one day I would work creatively for myself with my craft.

I continued to make textile jewelry on the side as a hobby and as a creative outlet, which has come naturally to me in various forms over the years. It was also a contrast to my work in the mostly digital realm. I realized I liked the balance of the two. Maybe it's the Gemini inside me? Once I co-hosted a craft night at work with a co-worker who loves needlepoint. ;)

 My first DIY how-to 'Fabric Button Bobby Pin' from 2011

My first DIY how-to 'Fabric Button Bobby Pin' from 2011

I met my craft soul sister and friend in NYC and we shared a booth together at my first handmade market/fair the Artists and Fleas in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We both remember a guy saying, while bending over looking closely at my display of handmade textile jewelry, "You made all this?...Get it girl." There are a lot of products with "Get it girl" written on them these days and I can't help but think of that moment when I see them.

It's interesting to reflect and think about moments that stand out after the fact, sometimes years later. 

 Me and Abby at Artists & Fleas Brooklyn in spring of 2010

Me and Abby at Artists & Fleas Brooklyn in spring of 2010

Last fall, Mike accepted an opportunity to work at an architecture firm in Austin, TX. I was thankful to be able to continue in my role as a researcher for the same company once we moved to Austin. After a lot of consideration, in March of this year I made the decision to leave that part of me behind to explore a new path. A path that is scary, exciting, and still very new to me. I was proud to have paid off my student loan debt, I had saved some money, I don't have a family yet, and felt for me it was time to take the risk. A big factor was that in Austin I would have more physical space to work and create. If not now I would regret it later. If I fail, I would feel satisfied knowing that I gave it a shot. Mike had been working as a freelancer for a while in NYC while I continued to work full time and so in a way we've reversed roles.

 Moving into our Austin rental, October 2016

Moving into our Austin rental, October 2016

This is a fairly long winded glimpse into to where I'm at now, but feel it's necessary to jot down where I've been over the last eight years as I look forward, even if I don't know exactly where I'm going.

- Ashley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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