STOIC AND SEEDY
Ashley Love has the rare ability to specialize in a genre of tattooing, yet make it distinctly her own. She works mostly in American style, rendering traditional multicolored designs that still carry the gradually dissipating defiance tattoos once symbolized. These tattoos have layers, whether they be metaphoric ones or physical ones made of color and shadow. There is depth, intensity, and joy in the technique and solidity of Love’s work, making it not only appealing to the eye, but also purely interesting.
To me, Love’s tattoos are a perfect representation of Americana; that evasive element, both stoic and seedy, that gives America its luster. The bold outlines, confident and sure, are markers of traditional American tattooing, and Love uses them to frame the meat of the piece in a way that establishes the permanence of the tattoo. This brings me to another quality I noticed right away in Ashley’s work- confidence. The colors and compositions she chooses are not subtle, nor are they muted, and the piece does not merely look animated- it glows.
Ashley handles subject matter that has been handled many times before, but puts a bit more of herself into it. I see it in her pinup girls and her arachnids, both brilliantly robust and satisfied. Every rosehip and butterfly wing is given depth and a vast range of shadow. Love’s interpretations of light and volume give her tattoos the misty air of restlessness and wanderlust. It’s a feeling one might get while looking down an empty highway with a neon-lit motel/strip bar on the left, and open country on the right. Love’s tattoos are like a lonely teenager from Minnesota playing an old punk song on a secondhand banjo- so independent in spirit and melancholia, yet so without a doubt American. I get the feeling that Ashley’s artistic process reflects parts of her personality in it’s confidence and unabridged display of joy; her work is lionhearted.
Ashley Love’s tattoos are polaroids of the suspended space between memory and anticipation. With bold outlines and vivid coloring, they are evocative and wistful. Love brings us a traditionally American genre of tattooing, yet does it with enough certainty and splendor to distinguish herself from any homogeneity there may be in the field. She gets it. Ashley works out of Yellow Rose Tattoo in Salt Lake City, Utah.