After working as an in-house designer for many years, Ashley Lotecki felt that while it had been great experience and creatively challenging, her identity as an artist was completely anonymous. So when a couple of major clients closed down and the company she was working for laid off the creative department, it was a hard but ultimately perfect opportunity.
“I had already been considering starting my own business for a while so at that time it seemed like a natural transition. In 2013, I became a registered business and have been working hard on it ever since! When I made the decision, it was a huge thing for me to register the business under my own name – Ashley Lotecki Design.
“But it is a wonderful feeling to be able to have my name joined with my identity as an artist now, and for people to recognize my style and associate that with my business.”
Her style is fluid, asymmetrical and whimsical. It conjures thoughts of simpler times, a childhood filled with playful kittens, puppies and dolphins, of watching your mother at her sewing machine, and being utterly besotted with the antique clocks on your grandparent’s mantelpiece.
The Canadian designer explains that digging back into her childhood is a wonderful source of ideas. “Some of my favorite places to pull inspiration from are my memories of growing up in the Canadian Prairies and adventures exploring my grandparents’ farm. The temperamental extremes of weather encouraged excessive amounts of make believe, art creation, and dress-up for entertainment! If I think back to a specific memory involving craft or design that stands out, it would be of adventures at my family cabin. Between my siblings, cousins, and friends, the cabin was always full of kids (frequently at least ten of us) so we were always coming up with art projects and crafts. We used to dig up clay on the beach, which was fairly deep underneath the sand, take it back to the cabin and sculpt all kinds of things out of it. After letting it air dry, we’d paint our creations in bright primary colors. Some of those relics still exist to this day!”
In translating her ideas to screen, she always endeavours to keep the original organic, fluid lines of the original drawing. “I generally start with loose pencil sketches and sketch until I get to a point where I’m happy with the visual direction. After that, I scan the pages in and reference them when I start working digitally in Adobe Illustrator, sometimes adding in additional textures in Photoshop. This method helps me translate the asymmetric, hand-drawn aspects of my style more organically even though I am working primarily in vector.”
Although most of her time is spent illustrating and creating surface patterns, Ashley also teaches digital illustration to university students and is a guest artist with an elementary school district, working with teachers and students on collaborative illustration projects.
She also spends a fair proportion of her time sewing, and has worked as a costume designer on a regular basis for many projects, including live shows, films, and web series – creating and constructing original characters and pieces, including clients such as Mattel. The combination of digital and tactile creative projects strike a good balance for her – “I love to sew and try to create original projects whenever I can.”
Sewing is kind of like my break time, I find it relaxing and a nice tactile change if I’ve been working on the computer a lot.
“I am also a tutorial contributor for the lovely sewing website Sew Mama Sew and as well as that have been working on a few collaborative sewing projects that I hopefully get to share sometime soon.”
“I have a multi-purpose workspace containing my computer work station, (fairly substantial) storage for fabric and art supplies, and desks/tables for sewing, cutting, and silk-screening on. I like order and simplicity in my workspace, so areas like my desk and projects table are usually pretty bare unless I am working on something at that moment. That being said, the walls of my studio are covered with printed squares of surface patterns I have been working on. I love the visual evidence of what I’ve been doing and accomplished, but along with that I find it very helpful for developing and expanding on my collections of patterns so I can see what I’ve done and how the patterns look with one another. I also have large white boards up so I can write myself temporary notes and to do lists. I am a chronic list writer, it helps me stay organized. Also, physically crossing things off a list is a seriously great feeling!”
In her old designing job working with outside clients, Ashley gained great experience in what it meant to create a brand, and this has helped her a great deal in creating her own. “Consistency is important in every aspect of your branding, so make sure anything visually accessible relates back to your brand identity – fonts, colors, sizing, layouts, etc. If you are posting photographs of work or products for sale online, they should look as professional as possible. Creating a small light box out of foam core can be very helpful for taking better photographs of products, also allowing you to keep the scale and directionality of the objects the same. Additionally, I highly recommend learning a program like Photoshop so you can make any modifications necessary and format your images properly.
“I have years of experience working on licensed artwork, developing new brands, and creating style guides, so I know what can define the success of a brand and how to manage it.”
“That being said, it is a little different when you are deciding how to brand yourself and your business identity versus a client, so I spent a long time considering what I wanted my brand to represent and how to visually convey that.