At Home With: Ashley Olinger | At Home With ... | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper
click to enlarge PHOTO: ASHLEY OLINGER
Photo: Ashley Olinger
Everybody is dealing with COVID-19 quarantines and restrictions in different ways. While there's no single right way to cope — social distancing and staying TF home — connecting with friends, family, and neighbors is a good place to start. You can contact your loved ones on your own, but you might also be curious how your favorite strangers in Pittsburgh are coping, so Pittsburgh City Paper is reaching out to artists, activists, workers, and makers to see how they're doing.

Today, it's illustrator and designer Ashley Olinger.

What has your day-to-day routine been like in quarantine? What would you be doing on a typical quarantine Thursday, for example?
I get up, make coffee, and listen to the news or a podcast while I answer emails. If I have open orders, I package those, mask up, and head to the post office.


Afternoons vary a lot depending on if I have client work, but if I don’t, I’ll draw while I watch YouTube videos or do some shop upkeep. I try to break up my days with cooking or workouts or walks, if it’s not 100 degrees outside. I’ve been working from home for about three years now so my day-to-day hasn’t changed THAT much since the pandemic began, but it’s been a challenge to stay focused or motivated with all that’s going on.

How much has the pandemic affected your workload?
I’ve had a few jobs canceled, and I personally won’t be doing any in-person events until there’s a vaccine, but I’m lucky to have my shop and a couple projects that are keeping me afloat.

You've made some graphics on Instagram featuring information about protesters' rights and places to donate. I've noticed those have become a popular and useful resource to share on Instagram, but especially when they are made visually appealing by designers. What was your process for deciding to make those?
I just wanted to pass along what I was learning, and when I couldn’t find a graphic for something, I made it myself. I do try to design them to be aesthetically pleasing – not because I care about it fitting in with my feed or whatever – but because if I make the information “pretty,” it will be shared at a much higher rate; and that hopefully means more people will learn about why the cash bail system in America is horribly corrupt, for instance.


Has the pandemic, or the protest movement, influenced what or how you illustrate?

The pandemic has made me less rigid about what rules I need to follow within my personal work, which has been really freeing. And the BLM movement has made me reexamine how I can appropriately use my skills to help circulate important information or fundraise, which I was not doing nearly enough of before.


What TV shows, movies, music, and/or art have you been gravitating towards these last few months?
Lately, I’ve been binging Top Chef and old seasons of Real Housewives (specifically Jersey and Beverly Hills), and I watch Ziwe’s Instagram live show, Baited, every week on Thursday nights. I’ve been listening to HAIM’s new album nonstop – it’s perfect. And I’ve been obsessed with these house illustrations by Jenifer Cooney and these pieces by Actual Footage of Me (Niki Dionne).

Have you gotten into any new foods in quarantine?
For sure – I’ve learned how to make bagels, attempted some traditional Chinese and Korean recipes, and I’m pickling some red cabbage right now actually.

You've donated money from some of your online sales to local and national organizations. Is there any charity or fundraiser that you recommend supporting right now?
SisTers PGH, Bukit Bail Fund, and Steel Smiling PGH are my local picks! I also suggest The Okra Project and Critical Resistance.

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