Name: Ashlee Hendricks, artically known as “Unash Hendricks”
Location: Wyandanch, NY
Bio: South Florida raised fine artist, Ashlee Hendricks, has been developing her skills in acrylic painting for the past years. Ashlee blends cohesive color schemes and ancient looking brown beings into her artwork. Ashlee’s evolution in fine arts allowed her to reach success in Broward County/Miami art shows and magazines. Her use of colors, textures and compositions makes the viewer question what they’re looking at and how they would feel from her work stemming from her spiritually, life, sex, and her own personal darkness.
Describe your experience as a current artist.
My experience as a current artist is really self-battling, self-awarding but mostly starving. I’m doing art part-time but hopefully, God can bless me to full time. I've been painting for 7 years now. Being a loner and becoming interested in other people’s art made me want to do art myself. I really haven’t found my purpose as an artist just yet, to be honest, I’m still trying to discover who I am but I know there’s a bright future for me dedicated to the art world.
What was your occupation/education prior to becoming an artist?
Working retail and still working retail until the perfect opportunity comes my way. Depression, loneliness and a sense of being a failure have prompted me into pursuing art at a young age. My artist transitioning period was drawing graffiti characters to combining Basquiat, Keith and Toshio Saeki etc, different elements from each of their paintings and creating something newish, till now creating my own unique original type of style that I’m really proud of. I have support from my mom and art runs in my dad's side of the family so I guess it was always in my blood
What was your biggest challenge in pursuing art and how did you overcome it?
My biggest obstacle in my art career was and is me. I would sometimes compare my work to others and force myself to be better, I’m my biggest critic. I noticed that the art I was doing, copying people’s work, I wasn’t a true artist in my eyes so from then I had to reflect on what and how I wanted to be represented to the outside world which is emotionally vulnerable, still spiritually finding myself and embracing my sexuality and my darkness. That’s what I represent. If I’m not working I’m painting if I’m not painting I’m working it’s like I have two jobs.
Describe your biggest milestone or project/series achieved since pursuing your art.
An ex-friend of mine gave me an opportunity to be on a cool project that got me on creators project on Vice Magazine. I've been in numerous art shows in Miami but that was big because it’s vice magazine learning how to network and marketing yourself properly that’s what I learned from that experience.
What is your favorite art technique and why?
My favorite medium is acrylic I’ve been painting with acrylic for years now that’s what I’m most comfortable with. I mostly paint with yellow and reds because those are the colors that attract me the most as they speak to me. I really dig color schemes, it comforts me in a sense. When you put green red yellow and add black to break up the colors that soothe me.
How do you maintain your mental health and inspiration?
To be really honest my mental health is something I deal with and tame everyday. I’ve learned to translate whatever emotions on canvas , reflect on it and learn from it. Art has allowed me to say what is internally or externally bothering me on to a physical realm, especially when I was shy and didn’t really open up to people. I am able to step back and see my feelings of negativity become a beautiful piece of artwork. That addicting to me, that’s when I knew this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. When I get my creative blocks, those are the worse I go weeks without drawing something or painting something. My creativity is like an ocean wave I gotta catch it and jump in it before it goes away. But in all, art is my real love.
What is some advice or tips you would give to a fellow BGWP interested in furthering their art goals and/or owning her own business?
The advice that I can give to a new artist if you just starting out is it’s okay to be inspired and learn from others peoples work but don’t let that just define you as an artist. Take that as a learning experience to find out who you are as an artist. There may be dark days where you feel like you can’t do it anymore or you want to give up but that’s the obstacles of being an artist - those days where you can’t and won’t paint if you don’t feel like it. If you feel like you’re not getting enough, you're on the journey of finding yourself as an artist so do not give up! You can’t become perfect overnight but you can become perfect over time. If you really want it always surround yourself with positive people, remove yourself from all distractions. It’s really not that hard to do what you love and put everything into what you love.
What does being a "black girl who paints" mean to you?
Being a black girl who paints is gold. Not too many people want to showcase a black artist, let alone a black female at that. It also translates in my art. I only paint brown figures because it represents me and my culture, in a sense. If I can be the face or a part of a cultural art movement, that’s where I want to take my art.