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Artist Interview: Misha Ashton

1. Tell us a little about your background (education, studies, travels, interests, etc.) and how you got to be where you are now.
I am a photographer, graphic designer and adventurer. Ever since my first photography class in high school, I have known that photography was what I wanted to spend my days doing. I studied business and graphic design along the way so I could own my own business and run it the way I wanted. During that time I took a few darkroom classes, worked full-time in photo labs, and have freelanced for a few magazines and newspapers here in Portland.

Most of my interests revolve around photography. I am obsessed with national parks, road trips, and world travel. This is a great obsession to have as a photographer, the more adventures I go on, the more artwork I create.

2. What kind of sources do you draw on for inspiration? (ie other artists, locations, the natural world, your own life/experiences, etc.)
I am greatly inspired by the natural world, but more so by good design. The colors, textures, composition, and good typeography. Having studied graphic design, I believe it makes me a little more attuned to the composition of an image.

3. Can you tell us a little about your process and how you create your work.
I take photos, lots and lots of photos. All of my work is in 35mm film, and a bit of medium format and polaroid. I archive all of my images, scanning the negatives to my computer at hi-res. Each roll is archived in its own folder, labled with date and location. If there are images I like from the rolls, those get copied and put in a folder entitled “New Images”. Throughout the year, I slowly work these images into my collection and while retiring some of the old ones. Sometimes I will get a whole new series from a roll, other times I
won’t get anything at all.

Much of my work is mounted on woodblocks. I do every step of this process from start to finish, cutting, routing, painting and finally mounting the image.

4. What projects are you currently working on?
Currently I shoot with 11 different film cameras, each used for a different project. The biggest project I am working on right now is my Flora and Fauna Series, where I photograph animals at natural history museums, then rewind the film and photograph over plants and flowers found in the natural world. This project is done entirely with an old manual Minolta SLR, a camera my parents gave me when I was 13.

All of my lo-fi cameras, like the Lomo LCA, Holga, 360 Spinner and my Quad Camera, are all used towards my book series, “Adventures in Lomography”. I will be launching a kickstarter for the next book at the end of this month, so keep your eye out for that.

I am also working on a collaboration with a friend in New York. He shoots through a roll of film and mails it to me, to then shoot over his images. We don’t tell each other what the other has photographed, so that it is a suprise when we get the roll of film developed. This
is a very new project and don’t have many images to share yet, but you can see his personal work here: www.jeffmoerchen.com

5. Do you have any plans for future shows, bodies of work or long term projects? We know you have a show at Breken Cafe in Northwest Portland that will be there through March.

I am very excited about my show at Breken Cafe – http://www.brekenkitchen.com/.  It features my Flora and Fauna Series on a large scale. Some are mounted on woodblocks, the rest I framed in gold and white, thrifted and vintage frames that I have been gathering for the past year.

I will also keep photographing at natural history museums, but have been experimenting on what I double expose over the animals, as well as other ways to “mess up” the negatives.

6. Can you tell us about your book “Adventures in Lomography” and how that project came about.

Oh, I am very excited about this project. The idea of creating a series of books based around my lo-fi photography occurred to me when I realized I had all of these photographs of places I have traveled and no one was seeing them but me.

My first step was to figure out if the idea of self-publishing a book was even feasible. My second step was to find the money to follow through with the idea. I ended up running a month-long Kickstarter, which helped to fund the production of 150 copies of my first run
of “Adventures in Lomography, Volume One: New York.” The book was released November 2011. I have sold out of my first run and have printed a second round that is available at Clic Gallery and Bookstore in New York, Memento PDX in Portland, Oregon, as well as in my online shop. The entire book was photographed, designed and written by me, with ghostwriting and editing by my friend and freelance editor, Cori Willis.

I am currently working on the next few books in the series, New Orleans and Chicago, with many, many more to follow. I would like to acquire a few more Lomography cameras along the way, though, because the four cameras I used in the first book just weren’t enough. I am also hoping to find a publisher to pick up the series.

7. Do you have favorite subjects to photograph? Favorite places?
I pretty much love photographing everything. I spend much of my spare time on photo excursions. My absolute most favorite thing to photograph though are amusement parks, mostly the older, less commercialized ones. I love everything about amusement parks, the
colors, the design, the nostalgia. Plus, I LOVE getting to ride the rides. It is hard to choose a favorite, but if I had to, it would be a tie between Coney Island in New York, and the abandoned Six Flags in New Orleans. I cannot wait to release my NOLA book, there is an
entire chapter dedicated to the abandoned Six Flags.

8. Do you have a favorite brick and mortar shop or online shop? Or Portland food cart?
You mean besides Tilde of course. That’s a hard question, there are so many great localy owned shops in Portland, but I would have to say currently, my most favorite is Appetite Shop. It appeals to my style, everything from their handmade goods to their collection of
vintage decor. (22nd and E. Burnside).

As for food carts, with out a doubt, Koi Fusion. YUM!

Tilde • 7919 SE 13th Ave • Portland, OR 97202
T: 503.234.9600 E: info@tildeshop.com

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