How do you sum up your life’s passion in three to four sentences? How do you choose the life experiences, relevant and novel facts all wrapped up in witty prose but not too witty that you turn people off. “Make them trust you.” They say, “Don’t brag but also don’t be self deprecating.”
Oh the joys and challenges of embracing a calling, putting it into words and realizing how much you still have to learn! Every task that comes before me in the field of children book illustrating and writing is like reading the first page of an great adventure story – both trilling and terrifying at the same time.
I started drawing young, way young. My mother, like many mothers, bragged about my magical skills of rendering and still keeps my ‘first great drawing’ in our fireproof safe, tucked between birth certificates and passports. So you may wonder if I was born with this amazing talent or if I accepted a prescribed identity at a young age that I practiced and was affirmed over the years. Okay, so you probably have not thought about that, but I can’t stop wondering about it! How do we become the people we are with unique interests, talents, predispositions and personalities? Were we shaped out of the clay of the earth with each characteristic etched-in and perfected before we took our first breath or did we explode into this world a blank canvas to which we brush in new details as we travel this wild and precious life? Everyday that I sit with young children, I wonder how much control we have over our story, the personal narrative we write for ourselves.
How much of who we are comes from our view of ourselves, from the environment around us, from the “truths” that we tattoo on our hearts from a young age. I was a lucky child. I am grateful for words of affirmation and opportunities, for wild adventures and passionate parents. I am grateful for an ability to express myself in creative ways. More than anything I am grateful for permission to dream like a child, to play, to create and to drift off into magical worlds of the imagination.
To illustrate is to open the gates, break down the walls and let the possibilities twist, wander and dance around the room. Characters emerge out of the white paper, their shape, form and personality come to life and make a home in my heart.
So how do you sum up my identity as an artist, a storyteller or a person in three to four sentences? Only with the grace of God, a little bit of imagination, a dash of truth and a whole lot of pixie dust.
(20 revisions later I settled and told myself I could always redo it later)
From the ocean to the mountains Ashley Young spends her life exploring the wild places and documenting their inhabitants in her sketchbook. An artist of many mediums, her subjects are unique and expressive animals drawn from her experiences as a zookeeper and environmental educator. At home in Fort Collins, Colorado she spends her days dreaming, creating and adventuring with her four-footed sidekick Harvey.
Author & Illustrator
Ashley M. Young