Artist and illustrator Ashley Olinger to paint a City Paper ArtBox at Three Rivers Arts Festival | Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Artist and illustrator Ashley Olinger to paint a City Paper ArtBox at Three Rivers Arts Festival

‘The Pittsburgh theme always wins people over, but I think [I'll do] something super bright and colorful, probably some fruit.’

click to enlarge Pittsburgh artist Ashley Olinger - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
Photo courtesy of the artist
Pittsburgh artist Ashley Olinger

Local illustrator and artist Ashley Olinger created a vibrant cover for City Paper’s Summer Guide issue. She is back in the fold to participate in a live painting of newspaper boxes — we’re calling it an “Artbox” — as part of Three Rivers Arts Festival. We talked to Olinger about her career, painting live, and the state of Etsy shops.

How did you get into illustrating?
I went to school for design and I took an illustration class my very last semester and ended up loving it. Whenever I graduated, I realized I wanted to do this.

Your art features fruit and plants as well as pop culture references. Where does your inspiration come from?
I grew up watching a lot of comedy, so that's always been a big inspiration to me. I try to put that humor into my work because I feel like it makes it more relatable. I really like illustrating everyday things and injecting them with color to make them more interesting.

Do you feel like this is a good time to be selling easily purchasable and accessible art on Etsy?
I think we're in a weird place. I see a lot of people that capitalize on this renewed feminist movement and the political climate and I don't judge anyone for that — but it already takes over so much of our life.

Do you feel like there are artists capitalizing on the political climate?
I do feel like there are a lot of people that are making it based on their own experiences. But there are a lot of shops that sell things that just say "depression" and "anxiety" and that starts to bug me.

click to enlarge Ashley Olinger’s Summer Guide cover illustration
Ashley Olinger’s Summer Guide cover illustration
Have you ever painted live in front of people before?
No. I was a little apprehensive at first, but I'm trying to do new things.

Do you have any plans for how you'll paint the box?
I think the Pittsburgh theme always wins people over, but I think something super bright and colorful — probably some fruit.

Is art your full-time job?
I went full-time about a year ago. I ended up quitting my last design job and I got a job as a barista part-time. I started building up a client base while I was there and quit after a few months.

What kind of clients do you have?
I've been getting a lot of people that are local bloggers. Those have been my favorite because I like working with creative people. They always have the best ideas.

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