Ashley Alford-Dollar inspires us with her passion for textile art, mural art, and her family. This Colorful Eclectic Mom on the Street opens up with us about her art inspiration, family life, style, and more.
Hi! I am Ashley Alford, and I am a textile designer mom of an 18-month-old Iris, and we are excited to announce we are pregnant with baby number 2. I work from my home studio with my husband Steven and our pup, Motif. I create hand-painted drapery, pillows, fine art, wallpaper, and custom fabric. When I am not working or chasing after our daughter, I enjoy cooking, painting, and relaxing in our hammock, scrolling Pinterest.
Colorful Eclectic Artist Beginnings
Have you always enjoyed art and design? What made you interested in being an artist?
Yes, as a kid, I always loved creating. My mom used to save a big bag of recyclables, and I would be entertained for hours making toys and art. I didn’t really know that I could be a full-time artist until I started searching for colleges. I knew I wanted my career to be in something I enjoyed and was interested in, but my family wanted it to be in something that you had a skill in so I could make money.
What is the inspiration behind your work?
This is always such a tricky question. I am drawn to many different things. Each piece I create is based on what I am inspired by at that time and what specific medium I am working in. But a few of my favorite motifs that I am always inspired by are florals, henna tattoo motifs, heavily patterned pieces, bright colors, global textiles, and the 70’s.
What do you enjoy painting most?
Probably loose florals are my go-to. In college, we did many in-depth floral studies, so I am drawn to them now.
Colorful Eclectic Textile Artist
What is your experience as a textile designer, and what sort of products do you create?
My degree is in Textile Surface Design from FIT in NYC. I have over 12 years of experience in this field. I have worked in all aspects of home decor—bedding, wallpaper, decorative fabric, rug design, tabletop design, and drapery design. My specialty is custom products. I love creating pieces that work perfectly in a client’s home or workspace, like hand-painted curtains, pillows, custom art pieces, wallpaper, and fabric designs. If you have a creative project in mind, I can help create it!
What are a few of your favorite products/ designs you have created for your products or art?
The project that I am most proud of was my first hand-painted drapery project—60 yards of a hand-painted blue ombré fabric. I also created the artwork to coordinate with the drapes, and the space is just fabulous.
What are your tips for those wanting to get started in textile design and art? Are there certain websites or product spaces people should avoid?
Of course, I have to promote my ” Ol’ Stomping grounds” at the Fashion Institute of Technology. I loved my time there. The teachers were amazing, and I learned so much information on site. I would also suggest skillshare. They have many excellent tutorials for repeats and the Adobe design suite. We are so lucky today that we can learn anything at any time with all of the resources online.
Colorful Eclectic Mural Artist
You are also a muralist. Tell us a little more about this and how you started painting murals?
As an artist, you have to be a jack of all trades. I always really loved murals and was interested in them, and I enjoyed working on a large scale. A couple of years ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to move into an area that was called “Art Alley. ”It was a dead-end street, and there wasn’t very much art. So I decided I would liven it up and paint some murals.
They were a big hit. I think we did ten murals in total on the alley. It was so awesome to live there at the time because I got to see so many people enjoying them. Graduation, engagement, 50th birthdays, group pics, prom photos, and lots of other people took photos in front of the murals, and it was so cool!
From there, I started getting called to do other murals around town at restaurants and businesses. The hardest one we did was at a new dispensary in Oklahoma, and I was eight months pregnant. Getting up and down was a struggle. When you are in the zone of creating, you don’t realize how physical mural painting is; it is hard work but so rewarding in the end.
What is your favorite mural you have done to date?
That is a tough one… but I think it would be the mural I created for a restaurant called Okaloosa. I got a lot of creative freedom with that mural, and I just love the way that mural turned out in the back garden. When I look at that mural, I think you can see a lot of my style in it.
Art Business and Family Support
What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of being an artist and business owner?
Gosh, there are many challenges of being an artist and business owner. It can be a little lonely sometimes; you don’t always know when the next job will be coming in. I find that constantly promoting yourself or trying to exposure for your work can be pretty challenging. It doesn’t matter how good your work is; if no one sees it, you won’t have sales. Also, it is a lot more than just creating; the creative process seems to be the smallest part of the business sometimes.
But man, the challenge is so worth the reward. I can’t imagine doing anything else. Painting and creating are my favorite things to do. I will do this for the rest of my life. One of the best feelings in the world is to see someone really enjoying something you have created for them; it is such a wonderful feeling.
Do your husband, kids, and friends support you as an artist? If so, how do they help you in your work/artist endeavors?
One of the many reasons why I married my husband is he has always been so supportive of me being a full-time artist. It is a job that is not for the faint of heart. There are a lot of disappointments, and it can be a feast or famine type of career. I couldn’t have done the mural work without him. He did all of the heavy lifting and always gives good creative critiques.
Where can people find you online or on social media?
Colorful Eclectic Style
Which three words best describe your style?
Colorful, comfortable, eclectic.
What are your favorite places to shop?
I LOVE the goodwill! Thrifting is my favorite. But I also love Desiqual, Sam Edelman, and of course, Target.
Who’s your favorite style icon?
CHER! Hands down. I just love her and her style. I wish I had her wardrobe (and fantastic body to go with it;))
What article of clothing/accessory would you not want to live without?
A really great fitted basic white tee.
Which trend would you want to see make a comeback?
I think everything tends to cycle back into style, but I love the looks of the ’70s.
What should NEVER make a comeback?
Really low-rise jeans with the thong string showing. NOT CUTE.
What fashion/style did you love at the time but now cringe when you see old photos?
The “Blossom” style hats with the big fake flower on the front from the ’90s. Man, I thought those were awesome then, but they look so tacky to me now.
What’s your best style secret?
If I don’t do anything else, I always put on lipstick. Usually red.
Stilettos or flats?
Flats all the way. I am 5’10, so flats.
Colorful Eclectic Family
What’s your favorite way to spend time with your family?
I feel so very lucky to be able to do this every day. (One of the many reasons I am so thankful to be able to work from home for myself.) My favorite part of the day is in the morning when we first wake up, and my husband and I drink coffee in the living room and watch my daughter Iris dance and eat her banana. It is just so precious.
What’s been your best family vacation?
Iris was born in November of 2020 during the pandemic, so we haven’t taken any family vacations yet. We will this year, so we are excited about those upcoming trips.
Best parenting advice:
Gosh, I don’t know…. my daughter is 18 months, so I feel like I am still figuring it all out. I guess so far, it would be “pick your battles” I don’t like saying no all of the time. So I try to use it when I really mean it. Although I am not really sure that approach is working because now before Iris does something she isn’t supposed to do, she looks at me and shakes her head no and then does what she isn’t supposed to do! In some cases, it is pretty hilarious.
Parenting true confession:
I noticed that Iris was becoming very interested in kids and could tell she needed more social interaction. So I signed her up for a mothers-day-out program on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The day before school started, I asked what she needed to bring to school. They said she needed a nap mat. Well, I didn’t have a nap mat, so I went to several different stores the day before looking for one and couldn’t find one. So I settled with a very comfy dog mat!! I didn’t tell my husband for a while because I knew he wouldn’t be happy about that. After looking at all of the plastic nap mats online, I think she has the comfiest one in her school! LOL
What’s your go-to family dinner?
Anything Greek-inspired is easy, quick, and healthy. Iris loves it!
What’s your favorite family restaurant?
Mexican food! Iris loves some queso!
Colorful Eclectic Life
What’s your favorite show to binge-watch?
I really loved the Bridgerton series.
If you could pick anyone to star as you in a movie based on your life, who would it be?
Probably Anne Hathaway. I have been told we resemble each other. Plus, I think she is a great actress.
What’s your favorite beach read?
Anything Stephen King
What song would you dance to when nobody’s watching?
Anything from the DJ Elderbrook
If you could go shopping with anyone from history, living or deceased, who would it be?
I would love to go shopping again with my late grandmother. Although I think she would be floored by the price of clothing now.
What’s at the top of your travel bucket list?
Art and Mom Lifestyle
We love Ashley’s colorful, eclectic take on life and art. Her love of creativity inspires us to pursue our passions and run with them. We can’t wait to see her family grow and see her grow as a textile and mural artist! Be sure to check out her Instagram to view more of her art and FamilyApp’s Mom on the Street page for more fun and stylish moms.