Frequently Asked Questions

​Art
  • How long have you been drawing?

    The truest answer is my entire life. I don’t ever remember a time I wasn’t drawing. My parents remember me drawing earlier than I do. The more precise answer is over 20 years. I’ve been making art professionally since 2011, when I was still in high school.
     

  • How did you get so good at drawing?

    By drawing! I know that’s an unsatisfying answer, but the key to doing anything well is doing it poorly, a lot. The more you do it, the more you learn, and the better you get. There are of course things I did that helped, like doing studies and watching other artists work, but the core is to just draw.
     

  • But doesn't that mean making bad art? I don't wanna make bad art!
    Yup. Get used to it. You don't learn anything by doing everything correctly the first time. No in the world makes 100% perfect art all the time. Every artist makes mistakes and every piece has its flaws. It's important to remember too that artists on the internet are (usually) trying to run a business, so they only want to show their best work, because it's essentially advertising. They don't show as much of the messy scraps and failed attempts - but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

     

  • What tools do you use?

    For black and white work:

    - Rotring mechanical pencil (0.5 mm)
    - Orenz mechanical pencil (0.2 mm)
    - Koh-I-Noor woodless graphite pencils (2B-9B)
    - General's charcoal sticks and white charcoal pencils

    For color work: ​
    - Daniel Smith, Holbein, and Windsor & Newton watercolors
    - Zig Clean Color Real Brush watercolor pens
    - Finetec metallic watercolors
    - Prismacolor and Koh-I-Noor Polycolor colored pencils
    - Princeton Neptune watercolor brushes

    Surfaces:
    - Bristol
    - Gray or tan toned drawing paper
    - Cold and hot press watercolor paper
    - Aquabord
    - Illustration board
    - Favorite brands: Strathmore, Canson, and Arches, but I do use others.
    - Sketchbook is the Strathmore 7.75x9.5 inch soft cover mixed media art journal

    For digital work:
    - Wacom Cintiq 13HD
    - Clip Studio Paint EX
    - iPad Pro + Apple Pencil

  • Did you go to art school? Are you self-taught?

    Yes and no. I did go to Stockton University, which is not an art school but a general college, and I did major in fine art. However, I dropped out after three semesters, as I didn’t feel I was learning as much as I should for what I was paying. I hesitate to call myself entirely self-taught, because I learned much of what I know from talking with and listening to other artists, and adapting their advice to fit my work. The rest has mostly been a lot of experimentation, trial, and error. And screaming. A lot of screaming.
     

  • How did you develop your own style?

    This is a question new artists ask a lot. I can’t speak for other artists, but for me, personally…. I didn’t. I never sought out a style. I just drew and painted in a way that I liked to do and felt comfortable and natural. I can say that experimenting helps, like trying new techniques or tools that you’re not used to using, and that you should have multiple artists that influence your work, as opposed to say, Disney only. In the majority of cases that I’ve seen (because there are always exceptions), developing a style is not a conscious decision. And yes, everyone has a style, because no one can draw exactly the way you do, because they are not you. Embrace it!
     

  • Can you teach me how to draw/paint/do xyz?
    Nope, I can't. Teaching art takes years, and teachers get paid. Some artists offer paid mentorships, but I'm not one of them. At this time I just don't feel comfortable or qualified to teach in any formal capacity.

    I recommend checking out resources like Proko, Ctrl+Paint, Cubebrush, Aaron Blaise, James Gurney, smART School, Schoolism, and your local colleges and arts foundations for art lessons instead.

     

  • How long does it take you to finish a piece?

    That depends entirely on size, medium, and subject matter. Small or simple pieces may take a few days, while more involved pieces may take several weeks or months.
     

  • Can I use/reference/copy your art?

    You may not use my artwork for commercial use without permission, and in most cases will have to purchase the rights (if you're interested in licensing, please email me to work something out). Personal use varies - you are welcome to use it as a desktop or phone wallpaper, but for online uses like icons and profile pictures, I ask you link back to me and do not claim that you drew the art or own the characters in it. The exception to this rule is art that you commissioned, or was commissioned for you by someone else. If you’re unsure, you’re always welcome to ask! I will never be upset with someone for asking for clarification.
     

    I do not allow the direct copying of my art, with the exception of master studies, in which one artist copies another artist’s work to learn and understand the style and techniques the original artist used - if you do this, you are free to post it, but please credit and link back to me wherever you do. It’s respectful and appreciated!

    As for referencing my art, you will learn more, make better art, and make better art more consistently if you reference photography, video, and life rather than other art. If you reference another artist’s work, you may make the same mistakes and pick up any bad habits they have - and believe me, we all have them!
     

    For more information on permissions and licensing, see my Terms of Service or email me at ash@gildedashes.com.
     

  • Can I get your art as a tattoo?
    Yes, you can! I ask that if you like a piece enough to have it engraved into your skin for life, you’ll hopefully like it enough to either pledge to my SubscribeStar or buy a print of the image first. Unless, of course, you’re commissioning me for a custom tattoo design; in that case, of course you can! And of course, I want to see the end result!
     

  • Do you accept art trades? Do you take requests?

    I do art trades with friends and trusted peers only. I do not do free requests, but you are more than welcome to commission me!

Characters

  • What is the end goal for your Absolute Data/Apocrypha/DISE/other story projects?
    Honestly, I have no idea. These all started out as personal sandboxes that I just played around in for fun. It's only relatively recently that I've decided to pursue them in any grander capacity. Whether they end up as graphic novels, webcomics, illustrated novels, or just a series of illustrations and short stories, I genuinely don't know. I think it's still too early to know what media will suit each one best.
     

  • How do you come up with stories? How do you handle worldbuilding?
    I make shit up as I go. No, really. Sometimes I take worldbuilding "worksheets" from the internet (Reedsy has a good one) and just wing it, then go back to make sure none of it is contradictory. Sometimes friends or fans will ask me questions, and if I don't have an answer, I make one up on the spot. Seriously!
    The story is the part of the project I struggle the hardest with. I have no problem designing characters or making up general world lore, but for general plots I still rely pretty heavily on suggestions and "what-ifs" from my boyfriend and friends. They often provide me with a super basic skeleton, and then I have a much easier time filling in the big blanks myself from there.

     

  • How do you come up with your characters?
    Honestly, I don’t even know. Some of them start out as just one-off sketches, and I end up drawing them again, and again, and again, until they finally get a name. Other times I sit down with a goal in mind and I throw ideas at the wall and see which ones suit the goal. Once they exist, I get occasional vague feelings about their personalities, backstories, etc. - this part usually takes a long time, often years, and is also usually a never-ending process. My characters are in a constant state of fluctuation, because as my life changes, as I change, they change along with me.
     

  • Can I draw your characters?
    As long as you’re not claiming them as your own and you link back to me, absolutely! Fanart is always an incredibly unexpected but indescribably welcome surprise. Make sure to let me know so I can show it off, too!
     

  • Are your characters for use/sale?

    Unless otherwise stated, no.
     

  • Someone else is using your character! I think someone is using your art without your permission!

    Please let me know! You can email me or send me a private message on any of my social media or gallery accounts with any evidence you have. I’m just one person on the internet, so I rely on other people keeping an eye out for me to catch copyright violators. You’ve helped me in the past, and I can’t thank you enough!


     

  • I have a question that’s not on this list!

    Ask away! You can email me at ash@gildedashes.com, or contact me on any of my social media or gallery pages. I’m always happy to answer questions!