Ashley Taylor is living the Disney dream and using her formidable artistic talent to inspire others to pursue their dreams.
While working as a cast member at Walt Disney World, Ashley honed her cheery, whimsical style, which has since come to characterize everything from the Disney Parks Blog’s daily Disney Doodle, to numerous pieces of Disney-themed art, to fashion from Her Universe and Disney’s Dress Shop Collection, and even an inspirational book.
Her distinctive work — inspired by such classics as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and legendary artists Eyvind Earle and Mary Blair — can also be found at WonderGround Gallery, BoxLunch, and Hot Topic.
I know I’m not the only person who looks forward to seeing what clever mashup or cute flight of nostalgic fancy Ashley will come up with next on the Disney Parks Blog. I also can’t be the only one who has salivated over her gorgeous Dress Shop prints, which perfectly capture the joy of favorite park attractions.
When she’s not busy touring with bestie Ashley Eckstein of Her Universe to promote their beautifully illustrated “It’s Your Universe” book, dreaming up new scenarios for classic characters, or combing the Disney archives for important details, she can be found doing commissions or creating fantastical original artwork for her Etsy shop.
In “Your Universe,” Taylor and Eckstein encourage readers to “dream it and do it,” which is something this artist definitely has gotten the hang of.
You can enjoy more of Ashley’s artwork and follow her on Instagram here.
You’re a Disney artist whose charming work is featured at Disney Parks, WonderGround Gallery, and on products for Her Universe, BoxLunch, and Hot Topic. So basically you are living every geek’s dream. What does that feel like?
It feels unreal at times! I’ll check my email and see messages from various brands and retail stores and I’ll pinch myself at times! It has been a long road to get to this point in my career and I don’t take a second of it for granted! Every Monday morning feels like Christmas morning to me! I’m so incredibly happy to be living my dreams here in California!
Your daily Disney Doodles are featured on the Disney Parks Blog and they are the best thing ever! Can you tell me a little about the process of creating these doodles? Where do you get your ideas?
Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoy them! The Disney Doodles are a collaborative effort between me and the Disney Parks Blog. Every time an idea pops into my head, I write it down. Then towards the end of the month, I’ll send Disney my ideas and they’ll add some of their own and we’ll come up with a game plan for the next month.
I try to add some unique characters every month. I love seeing how the Disney community responds when they see a character they haven’t seen in years. I remember I decided to draw Archimedes from Sword and the Stone and so many people shared amazing childhood memories of that film with me. That’s what it’s all about! Creating a little bit a fun and joy during someone’s day!
As far as drawing the Disney Doodles, I usually create a month’s worth of doodles in a day. (Roughly 8 or 9 doodles.) My schedule is so crazy, I have to be able to draw exceptionally fast.
Many of them are the cutest and cleverest Disney mashups. How do you determine what will make a good mashup?
Truthfully, the characters do all of the work for me. I just pay attention to their storylines, likes, dislikes … etc. And I always try to keep the character’s integrity. For example, I created a Disney Doodle of Princess Tiana dancing at the Country Bear Jamboree. Tiana is from the South and she loves cooking, singing and dancing. So she would enjoy singing and dancing with those Country Bears. I always try to look for attractions that would pique the interest of the characters. It’s a lot of fun!
Clearly, you are just immersed in Disney characters and properties. Do you have a soft spot for any specific personalities, movies, attractions, etc.?
Oh goodness, so many!
Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella are the Disney films that made me want to be an artist. The colors, backgrounds and details are absolutely stunning! As I got older, I connected with Tangled and Moana. I love seeing fearless girls follow their passions!
My favorite characters has always been The Blue Fairy from Pinocchio and Princess Jasmine. I love how Jasmine is smart, fierce, and strong-minded while the Blue Fairy is poised, elegant and kind.
And as far as attractions, I will always love The Country Bear Jamboree and It’s a Small World. I love the classics!
You must spend a lot of time researching Disney-related images and details. Can you tell me more about what that research can entail?
I research everything! I am very thorough when I research Disney-related imagery. I have gone to the Disney archives and visited the parks to make sure all of the details are accounted for. I want to remain as accurate as I can while being able to deliver artwork in my unique style.
Do you also collect Disney items?
I collect a Disney ornament every time I do a signing at one of the Disney Parks. And when fans give me artwork, gifts or letters, I laminate them and turn them into ornaments as well. So every Christmas becomes a trip down memory lane.
I’ve read that you discovered your unique personal style as an artist while working as a cast member at Walt Disney World. How did your style evolve during this time and what did you learn?
I always tell people to start drawing what they love, because that’s when you’ll really start to connect with your subject matter as an artist. I love fashion, so being around Disney really piqued my interest as a designer. I started to experiment with various mediums until I found one that suited my style the best. Digital illustration and clean vectors really suited my design taste and style.
I understand that, as a child, you were influenced by Sleeping Beauty. Who and what are some of your other influences?
Yes, I was mesmerized by Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella when I was a kid. So, naturally, Eyvind Earle and Mary Blair were huge influences
I’m always inspired every time I travel. I think traveling and exploring the world becomes an artist’s best resource.
You and Her Universe’s Ashley Eckstein recently released the book “It’s Your Universe.” The Disney-themed illustrations are beautiful and really make the book memorable. Tell me more about your collaboration with Ashley on this project.
When I first read Ashley Eckstein’s manuscript, I knew this project was something I had to be a part of. I knew this book was going to change lives and help so many people visualize their dreams.
The creation of the book was labor of love for both Ashley and me. Being able to provide visuals for Ashley’s inspiring words, lessons, and stories brought me so much joy! As close friends, it was easy for me to understand what her expectations were of me and my artwork.
“It’s Your Universe” aims to teach young women about “dreaming it and doing it.” What’s your advice on this subject?
Don’t shy away from your dreams just because you haven’t seen anyone else accomplish them. Don’t be afraid to be the first. Don’t be afraid to build your own Yellow Brick Road.
You and Ashley recently returned from a book tour. How did that go? What’s your favorite thing about meeting fans?
Our tour was incredible! We were on a plane almost every single day. It was long hours, but incredibly exciting! Meeting fans was my favorite thing about being on tour. I love being able to connect with people and meet aspiring artists. There’s nothing better than watching people’s faces light up when they talked to us about their dreams. I’ll always remember those little moments!
Aside from Disney, what are some of your favorite fandoms?
I love Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Sailor Moon, DC, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Jim Henson, and Tim Burton. I’m sure there’s a ton more. I find that there’s something I like about every fandom I’m introduced to.
From your art, I gather you’re into Moulin Rouge, The Greatest Showman, and La La Land, among other things. Do I detect a love of musicals here?
You know, it’s funny, I’m not that big into musicals, but I LOVE the art direction and costumes in those films. All of them are so strikingly beautiful! I do love to sing along with Hugh Jackman, though. How could I not?
You also have a thing for Audrey Hepburn. Why do you admire her?
Audrey Hepburn is so much more than a beautiful actress. She dedicated her life to helping others. She was a humanitarian who dedicated her life to UNICEF. I have always admired her as an actress, style icon, and as a person. I have her photo in my office as a constant reminder to keep giving back to others. It’s wonderful to follow your dreams and your passions, but it’s more important to contribute something to the world.
Your art seems to focus on a lot of female characters. Is this intentional?
I know that my artistic style is extremely feminine and delicate. So I try to draw subjects that bring out the best of my abilities. I also love mermaids, circus performers, and ballerinas, so those costumes are so much fun for me to draw.
Prints of your art are available in your Etsy shop, LoveAshleyDesigns. Many of these feature adorable mermaids, centaurs, Nessie, cats, and other magical creatures (I think cats qualify as magical creatures). Where does your fascination for these kinds of characters come from?
I think a lot of artists love drawing fantasy creatures because they are entirely created in our heads. We don’t use references, we just allow our imaginations to have a little fun. When working in the world of retail, I welcome those little breaks to create something light and pretty.
I can’t stop obsessing over the designs you’ve contributed to Disney’s Dress Shop, which include dresses, skirts, and cardigans that are to die for. What do you enjoy about creating art for fashion?
The best part about art for fashion is creating something that people live their lives in. I love seeing my designs become part of someone’s first trip to Disney, engagement session, birthday celebration and so much more.
How do you feel when you see people wearing these outfits?
It’s one of the greatest honors an artist can have. It’s still so surreal every time someone comes up to me in the parks wearing my art. I love seeing people create special memories in my art!
Through this aspect of your work and also your work with Her Universe, you’ve been able to model and wear a lot of amazing geek fashion. What has that experience been like?
Designing and modeling for Her Universe has been a dream come true. Her Universe, like Disney, is a brand I completely believe in. Her Universe allows fangirls from all walks of life to flaunt their world and showcase their fandoms through fashion. It gives a voice to the female fan community and allows fangirls to not only feel accepted, but to be the best versions of themselves. So to be a small part in that community has been incredible!
What are some of your future goals as an artist?
I have so many future goals. And a lot of them are coming into fruition! The most important goal is to keep growing and challenging myself as an artist. I’d love to do a worldwide press tour and be able to meet my amazing fans around the world. That would be amazing!
What’s left to do on your Disney bucket list?
I’d love to create artwork for some of the international Disney Parks, like Tokyo Disneyland. That would be amazing! I’d also love to create artwork for one of the Disney resorts or a Disney attraction.