Artist Focus: Brianna Ashby

The films of Wes Anderson have inspired a dazzling array of art, most notably through the Spoke Art collective and the book based on their annual group art show, Bad Dads. We hope to regularly feature works from artists inspired by Wes Anderson in this feature. If you are interested in being featured, email us at edwardappleby@yankeeracers.org. We shall first focus on Brianna Ashby.
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Photo credit: Brianna Ashby
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Her bio: “Brianna Ashby is the hired pen and art director of the digital film magazine Bright Wall/Dark Room, where she helps to put a new lens on film one doodle at a time. She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2004 with a BFA in Illustration, and a concentration in advanced costume party studies. When she’s not in the studio covered in ink and coffee, she is most likely in the kitchen covered in flour and coffee.”
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Rushmore was the first Wes Anderson movie I ever saw (and it remains my favorite to this day). As an artist, it’s unsurprising that the first thing that attracted me to the film was it’s very particular aesthetic. I was fairly cinema literate at the time, but I couldn’t recall ever before seeing anything on screen that felt so visually complete. A carefully chosen font, a red beret, a well-loved library book; all of the details that had been paid such meticulous attention were more than just window dressing, they all served to deepen and enrich my experience of the story. The dedication to creating a wholly immersive world, both nostalgic and timeless, struck a chord.
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I also found in Rushmore, and subsequently in the rest of Wes’ movies, a warm, beating, slightly battered, and very human heart beneath the veneer. I’ve never found any of his work to be cold or superficial, and frankly cannot understand that criticism. There’s a quietness to the emotion that I’ve always appreciated, and find endlessly relatable. More often than not, our feelings manifest themselves in muted and prosaic ways- we sigh instead of scream- so seeing two adults lying in a children’s tent, resigning themselves to a life apart, feels more real to me than a spectacular display of pleading and sobbing.
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Along with Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom are the other films I return to most frequently. As I grapple with getting older, I’ve found that my readings of the films have shifted, and I relate to them in new ways. I was 19 and in the midst of four years at RISD when I saw The Royal Tenenbaums, and I had no contextual understanding of the notion that the brightness of gifted young stars can go dim. As a 34-year-old working artist, it is now a concept with which I am all-too-familiar (haha). That’s not to say that I find the movie bleak. Far from it. An underlying current that runs through all of Wes’ work is that we’re not doomed by our flaws, which is a tremendously comforting thing to remember when we’re lying in our beds hoping we get sucked out into space. There’s still lightning in us yet.
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The richness of the Wes Anderson Cinematic Universe has been such a boon to artists like myself (not to mention writers, and crafters, and creatives of all sorts). From Matt Zoller Seitz’s incredibly comprehensive and stunning books, to Spoke Arts’ “Bad Dads” art show, the array of beautiful things being put out into the world in homage to these films is pretty stunning.
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I’ve had the opportunity to create a few Wes Anderson inspired pieces of my own that I am quite fond of, this Fantastic Mr. Fox print taking the cake:
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Another personal favorite is this painting of M. Gustave:
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As for products that I didn’t create but I adore, the Darjeeling Limited inspired luggage from Very Trouble Child is incredible:
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And this Scalamadre umbrella is a perennial favorite:
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Links:
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