About the artist

A portrait of soft surrealist artist, Ashley Geiger

This week, we meet Ashley Geiger. By day, she is an interdisciplinary scholar (Humanities) with a doctorate in Philosophy and a particular interest in the new field of Visual Literacy. By night, and on the weekends, she messes with perfectly lovely photographs to create her self-titled style of Soft Surrealism. These visual experiments have found a home in several publications. Most recently:

The Harold, digital artwork, in Nunum. Inaugural Issue, Summer 2018.
Erasure, digital artwork, Ponder Review, Vol. 2, Issue 1.
When Orchids Dream, digital artwork, deluge Literary and Arts Journal. (forthcoming)
Helios, digital artwork, Sonder Midwest, Issue 2.
A Wrinkle in Time, digital artwork, Zoetic Press, NBR #17.
Parrot-(r)ing, digital artwork, Instamatic, December Issue, 2018.

I am endlessly enthralled with the process of layering , filtering, and masking. It fascinates me that with one small choice of filter, the look of an image can change so profoundly. It is a deeply mysterious process that has me completely hooked. — Ashley Geiger

Discover more of Ashley’s artwork in her entry in our Artists’ Directory.

How did you first get into digital art?

I suspect it is a direct by-product of my being a pretty lousy photographer, but one with high expectations about how photography, mine at least, should look. I found myself making increasing use of basic editing tools such as tonal adjustments, remove blemish, etc., until one day, as I was reviewing my photographs, I realised they were morphing into something quite different.

This discovery led to an epiphany — maybe, just maybe, this is art. Throw into that mix my general tendency toward control freakery and taking pleasure in altering reality at the touch of a button, and you have the recipe for the making of this digital artist.

Why did you choose digital art as your medium?

I would say that it chose me. Like so many people, I am constantly juggling multiple commitments, roles, and responsibilities. As much as I relish working with different art supplies, — I have a full-blown paper fetish — they are less portable. The great thing about working digitally is you can work on the fly between meetings (and if the meeting is really boring, in it!), during long waits at the doctor’s office, waiting in the car line for your child after school, etc.

I confess that I also like the immediate feedback you can have with digital art. Within seconds of posting a picture, you can get comments on your work from people halfway around the world. How cool is that?

Tell us about the process you use to make your art.

I often joke that I am a woman “without a style.” I say this because in part, I am continually exploring new apps, but also because I really try to listen to what each photographic image has to say about how it wants to be treated. That said, a review of my work over the past year and a half (I started digital manipulations in earnest in November 2017), suggests that more often than not, my work has a subtle — and sometimes not too subtle — surrealistic vibe.

Finally, as a newcomer to the digital arts scene, I am often forced into interesting artistic conundrums and problem-solving due to my lack of formal artistic training. This has been a blessing in disguise, as I learn and grow by imitating the artists who I most admire — many of whom have graciously shared their tips and tricks with me.

Much of my work is in response to an on-line challenges offered by other people’s photography. I love how the challenges prompt me to think in new ways and interact with themes that I might not otherwise consider. I try to approach each challenge by thinking about what style the theme demands. While my ‘go to’ style can probably be best characterized as ‘soft surrealism’, I try to keep an open mind before I commit to a style or even to a series of apps.

I am always experimenting and it is not unusual for me to have five to ten different versions of an image going before I finally commit to one. I also am constantly studying other peoples’ work, trying to figure out how they have constructed their images. In the process I develop something uniquely mine by way of failing to achieve their effect!

What artistic styles are you particularly drawn to?

I was an Art History major as an undergraduate, and am quite promiscuous in my aesthetic sensibilities. I love art of all types. That said, I am smitten with —and in fact collect — Japanese prints; I love the condensed simplicity of the line, the power of their composition, and their bold palette.

What inspires you?

I am constantly awed and inspired by all the great art-making going on in the world today. That so many people take the time to dedicate themselves to an artistic practice gives me hope for the world.

What is your artistic motivation?

One of the things that draws me to art-making in general, and to digital art in particular, is that it presents a series of challenges. I often liken the process to putting together a puzzle, only you don’t have the box top to know how the piece will look in the end. At best, you begin only with a dim picture in your mind.

I am endlessly enthralled with the process of layering , filtering, and masking. It fascinates me that with one small choice of filter, the look of an image can change so profoundly. It is a deeply mysterious process that has me completely hooked.

Of all your images to date, which is your favourite and why?

That is like asking who is your favorite child! Like any good mother, I will politely decline to answer. (Smile).

Which three words or phrases would you use to describe your work?

Experimental, improvisational, unpredictable.

What memorable responses to your artwork have you had?

I think my very favorite response was something along the lines of, “You can make art out of anything.”

Name three artists who inspire you

I would name IGers, except I could never limit myself to ten (let alone three). Most of my favorites likely know who they are because I shamelessly attempt to imitate their style.

Along with the great masters of Japanese prints (Hiroshige, Hokusai, etc.), I am drawn to artists who are or were affiliated with Dada and Fluxus, mostly because they are so process-oriented, experimental, and irreverent; I appreciate too, that they have a healthy disdain for people who take themselves too seriously, or who are inclined to draw sharp boundaries between ‘art’ and ‘non-art.’

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to when you started making art?

Don’t be so shy to ask the artists you admire, “How did you do that?” More often than not, they are eager to share their tips and tricks with you, and flattered that you asked.

What devices/equipment do you use to create your art?

I work almost exclusively on an iPad or iPhone X, or a combination of both. It is only when I prepare work for publication on paper that I work on a desktop computer, and then, it is just for formatting the dimensions of the piece.

Which apps/programs do you use to create your art and which are your favourites?

To my mind, iColorama is the queen of apps. It is also a beast — in a lifetime, I don’t think I could exhaust its endless potential. Superimpose X is my goto for composing images. As I become more interested in digital collage, I find myself working in Bazaart frequently; there is something about their interface that makes me think differently about how I build a composition. Finally, I use Dreamscope for its crazy filters (and love making my own) — but, those images demand a lot of fine-tuning; again, that is where iColorama is invaluable.

Do you use images from stock sites as well as your own photos and if so, which are your favourites and why?

Yes. My two go tos: Unsplash and Pixabay.

And finally, do you find that people dismiss digital art as a valid art form?


Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your artwork wih us, Ashley!

Discover links to more of Ashley’s work in her entry in our Artists’ Directory

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