Ashley Taylor ’12 teaches printmaking and design in the College of Arts and Humanities and was formerly a professional printer and designer for Flying Horse Editions, a nonprofit publisher of limited-edition prints, artist books and art objects by internationally renowned artists, and a collaborative research studio for UCF visual artists.
She is the 2021 Chuck D. Dziuban Award recipient for Excellence in Online Teaching given by the UCF Center for Distributed Learning, and she was a featured artist in The Corridor Project Billboard Edition, a recent exhibition featuring the artwork of 30 Orlando-based artists on billboards throughout the area.
Why is art important to society?
Art is communication, and design is how we arrange imagery to be perceived. I use design more than the term art. Design is all about intention. In making art, we are using design methods of combining line, shape, space, value, form, texture and color to express ideas or ask questions. When you think about how much imagery you see in one day, you realize your world is made up of artists questioning the world in which they live.
Where do you find inspiration?
I believe the role of an artist is understanding one’s relation to the world in which they live. For my personal work, I find inspiration from the day to day, observing the world around me. I walk outside and I see imagery, typography, color and human interactions. I love observing how humans interact and these observations find themselves perpetuated through satire. I came to realize that the history of caricature and satire is the foundation of my work. Embracing that I am a satirist, my subject is social commentary. I comment quite a bit on the current state of contemporary society in particular, human behaviors influenced by cultural rules, by attitudes, emotions and values. The work takes shape in the form of prints and drawing.
You recently received a UCF award for online teaching. How do you integrate technology and art?
One of the courses I teach is Introduction to Computer Art, a foundational design course. I create an educational experience to accommodate a broad spectrum of individuals, majors and career goals because I instruct both majors and non-majors in design courses. Students enrolled start off very eager yet concerned that they aren’t creative or proficient in the software. By the end of the semester, they prove to themselves that they were always creative, they just needed the push. They design for real world situations, including creating the concept and executing a finished polished design for a food truck, gig poster, social media campaigns, editorial design and package design. They complete assignments that help them develop their own resume and portfolio. Receiving the Dziuban Award for this course is a tremendous honor.
How did you pivot during COVID?
When we had to go remote, the last thing I wanted were daily Zoom classes — they sounded horrible! I wanted to honor everyone’s learning styles so I decided all my courses would be asynchronous. I created video tutorials for most of the assignments and allowed students a chance to work at their own pace. This was quite interesting when teaching drawing. I would hold weekly optional Zoom check-ins for students to get one-on-one feedback. The experience was great. When we went back to school, I continued to incorporate video tutorials for additional help.
What impact has the university had on your life, as a student, as a faculty member and as an alumna and what impact do you hope to have on the university and future Knights?
UCF was the first place I felt connected to other creatives. I found my best friends here. I didn’t start drawing until I went to UCF; I learned Art History, and I discovered a love for design and printmaking. When I graduated, I learned about the professional side of printmaking, working as a collaborative printer at UCF’s Flying Horse Editions, and now I get to do the thing I love — teach.
I want to help students find their voice. I strive to instill in them a desire for risk-taking and problem-solving. I show them that making mistakes is part of the process. I encourage this mindset because the mistakes lead you to somewhere unexpected and usually the best solution.
Why should we fund the arts?
The arts are a vital part of our community. Imagery shapes our culture, helps express our ideas and records our histories. Funding the arts creates a more authentic and enlivening world.
This features appears in IMPACT: The Magazine of the UCF Foundation – Spring 2022 issue.