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Drawn From the City : Ashley

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DRAWN FROM THE CITY: Illustrations and Interviews of SF’s Best, first appeared in The Bold Italic in 2015 and ran through 2016. We at liked them so much we asked Crystal if we could put them out again as a time capsule of SF’s creative scene during the height of the most recent tech boom and demographic change.


Ashley is a San Francisco based artist and fashion designer

Interview with Ashley

When did you move to San Francisco?
I’m from Chicago but I’ve been in San Francisco for 4 years.  I actually came here when I was 15 to visit my uncle who has been here for 40 years, it was beautiful, and I liked the vibe.  Back in Chicago I was going to school for business and hospitality management and realized it wasn’t for me so I asked my uncle if I could come out and stay with him.  He has a 6 bedroom by himself and he said yes come out here!  So I took the train out, it was 54 hours, I had so much stuff being a fashion major, it was crazy.  The train came into Oakland and as I crossed the bridge on the Amtrak bus the city was so beautiful I even got teary.  As soon as I got off of the bus there was this super hot transgender guy, so cute, I was like yes honey, and it smelled like weed at the same time and I was like I have arrived!

Was there a moment when you felt like you belonged in the city?
There was a moment before I lived here when I wore this crazy vintage outfit to this suburban mall in Chicago that I worked in fixing watches.  I wore this crazy cream vintage blouse with a beautiful necktie attached and these Aztec print palazzo pants and everyone was like what the hell is going on here.  I always followed blogs and tumbler for fashion in San Francisco and I found a woman literally wearing what I was wearing and I was like why am I not there?

Now that I’m here people are so open and friendly and the vibes are high and I am confirming all of the time that this is where I am supposed to be.  It’s very mystic here too, I’ve met three jewelry designers out at Zeitgeist who I’ve ended up working with and doing style grids for.  I always feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

What is your occupation?
I’ve been in retail since I was 16; now I’m a wardrobe consultant, creative consultant and freelance stylist.  I make jewelry, costumes and clothes. I’m working on a line of hand painted denim pieces, button-ups and high-waisted shorts, I have Female Rebel, Pussy Party, Girl Power, I’m excited for those.  I also love drawing, painting and collage, I just recently did my entire wall in my room as one giant collage.

What is your inspiration?
The 90’s I was born in ’91 and my mom had me when she was 18 so that’s what she knew.  To sum it up I would say my style goal is Spice Girls with a Salt-N-Pepa attitude.

Was there a moment when you to decided to do fashion?
I was floating around until I was 20 and moved here. I went from corporate retail to boutique and I felt more connected to the clients.  They would come in after having a baby and they were like my body is not rocking it and I would help them find something they loved and felt good in. Then I would see them out looking cute on their dates because it’s all local.  My mom is a mom of eight and she has a hard body to fit, she is short and has a big butt and big stomach.  I’ve helped her find things and have made a few things and she is super stoked, it brings out her confidence.  With fashion I can get personal and I like it.

Do you have a favorite neighborhood?
I like going to North Beach by myself, going through the tunnel, and the park and reading poetry in City Light Bookstore, and I don’t see too many people I know over there.

Do you have a favorite memory in North Beach?
It was pretty fun day.  We are pretty big drinkers and most neighborhoods I know where to get the two-dollar beers, so in my neighborhood the place to go is the Bean Bag.  My friend Jasmine and I had fros and were froing out on a Sunday there and met these guys from Canada.  We are double dating all of a sudden, drinking and playing poker for quarters and then we decide to go to North Beach.  We read poems together in the park, then went to the bookstore and read more poems, and went to a bar, it was a fun spontaneous time.  The sun was shining and it was a great day being alive, and I was like I like you North Beach.

What is the weirdest thing you’ve seen in the city?
I see a lot of weird things. But the weirdest was the first time I saw Santa Con, What???  I spent the night in the East Bay, which I never do, I was with my home girl Jasmine and we got on Bart.  I haden’t fully re-set, I am still a little wonky and everyone is a Santa on the train.  Jasmine and I were still a little drunk and we were like this is not real. More Santas are getting on as we get closer to the city so finally I go on twitter and find that it’s Santa Con and they all piled off at 16th with us; it felt like they were following us they were everywhere. It was like a dream I had never seen anything like it.

Do you have a favorite San Francisco weirdo?
My favorite is the wizard man, that’s my homie.  Every time I see him he has a scooter with a color wheel on it that spins when he’s rolling and a sparkly pointy hat with a really big beard.  I’m like yes wizard man.  I talked to him one day and he is this crazy scientist doing super cool stuff.  Who would have thought that this wizard man is doing cool things besides scooting around all day? He gets the cake!

Do you have a favorite San Francisco moment?
The pillow fight was amazing last year!  I had on a yellow and brown dashiki with a purple bandana over my face and thigh high boots; I was straight up warrior status.  I even had a mini backpack with a flask and joint inside.  My friends and I had a plan not to lose each other, but when 6:30 hit and that horn blew everyone was gone and there were pillows flying everywhere.  I was warrior-calling out to the crowd, and after a while I was getting so beat up because I’m so small so I strategized and under cut the pillows!  Then I bump into my friends we had a drink on the side and come back and we were pillowing everywhere.  This one guy did this crazy move, he had two pillows and he jumped so high over a crowd of people wheeling both pillows it was the craziest thing I have ever seen.  I felt like that was the best thing I had done in my adult life.  We heard this reporter hating on the pillow fight so my friend Carly goes up and whacks him, she like it’s a pillow fight dude! Everyone was like cracking up about it.  Then we went to one of the piers and reflected on everything and then ended the night with In-N-Out, it was greatest thing ever!

Another great moment was Bay to Breakers.  Carly lived in Upper Haight right next to the Panhandle.  Jasmine and I had matching headphones and we were like disco girls in there dancing it up and playing freeze tag it was great. Then we run into this guy I was casually dating and he was like I have a limo, it was so random.  So thirteen of us pile in this giant limo and took it to Ocean Beach and freaked out at the beach for the rest of the day.  

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Crystal Vielula

Crystal Vielula

Crystal Hermann is an artist, fashion and costume designer living and working in San Francisco. She graduated with a BFA in Fashion Design from the California College of the Arts. She currently teaches fashion, sewing, painting and drawing to school age students in the Bay area.
She loves drawing and creating things and is constantly learning new exciting skills that she applies to her work. Besides creating things and teaching, she enjoys riding her bike and dancing. You can see more of her work at