Ashley Newton

is creating techno-art w/ microcontrollers, rainbows, robots, pens, & more

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About Ashley Newton

Hi. I'm Ashley. I love rainbows, robots, and things that glow. :)

I create multiple types of art, much of which blend analog, digital, and high-tech tools and techniques. Interactivity and light play a major role in my creations— I like to describe my art as being made with "techno-magic". I create interactive LED sculptures that are often robotic; immersive interactive art experiences; light-reactive drawings and paintings; wearable tech art; experimental garments; fluorescent crafts and sculptures; and more. And I love to explore different tools and techniques for art creation, bridging the digital and analog worlds. I create art with computers, machines (like laser-cutters, 3D printers, vinyl cutters, sewing machines, etc.) ,and my hands (draw, paint, physical fabricate, etc.)

A selection of my art.

Quasi Mission Statement

Art doesn't happen in a void... By revealing some of the “magic” (and/or struggle) behind my art, as well as sharing my ongoing experiences, I hope to connect with people—with you. I hope through connecting, we can all grow and learn at least a little bit. Connecting may simply be through providing some interesting (or amusing) content; or it may be by inspiring some to try something new or to express oneself creatively; or it may be through receiving constructive feedback or answering questions; or maybe even by collaborating. :) Whatever it is - I hope this will be a two-way dynamic. I encourage all of you to engage with me.

In a world of increasing homogenization and digitalization where we are often divorced from the physical world around us, it can be easy to feel powerless to effect change — even if that might simply be trying to fix a broken appliance rather than replace it, or to change something in your life. What I have found immensely helpful is going through the process of coming up with an idea and trying to make it real (which might challenging and risks being unsuccessful). The more I have done this, the more I have felt empowered to change the world around me — to envision different ways a thing could be, or a cool thing I could create, or even just to try to learn a new skill or fix something that is broken. I like to describe it as being able to “hack” the world around me.

My grand hope is that I might be able to inspire some of you to take the risk to express the ideas inside of you by stepping out of your comfort zone; to engage actively in the world — questioning whether things could be different— and that you could in fact be the one to change it (even a little). My theory is that as more of us regain our sense of agency in our lives, we can help create a “better” world (or at least something different from the one that gets pushed onto us by society, by big corporations, by politicians, by the media, and even simply by our family and friends). I believe through little steps and small changes over time, big change can happen. But it only works if we each take the risk to try and fail.

(And now I’ll get off of my “soap box”.)

Demoing my "Neuroflowers" project (brainwave-controlled robotic flowers), part of the Market Street Prototyping Festival.

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The Purpose of this Patreon

1) Support me as an artist (so that I can, you know, make more art, and be less distracted/constrained by finances, and have breathing room to take more risks and to sometimes collaborate on large-scale unpaid art projects, like Dr. Brainlove, an art car I helped create lighting for).
2) Create focus and accountability so that I regularly create and share (I get distracted easily).
3) To connect with more people (like you!) so we can all grown and learn, and maybe even co-create
4) To explore the unknown!

This is also a place for some vulnerability, I hope. I intend to share my challenges and failures along the way, not just my successes, so that we can all grow and better connect — to create some safety to take risks. (It’s okay to fail! After all, challenges and failures push us to grow and learn. Let's embrace this.)

Over the last couple years, I have struggled to be as productive as I would have like. There have been a lot of life-challenges, but I’m starting to come out of them (I hope).

With the help of my Patreon backers, I am very excited to explore where this artistic journey will take us. I hope you will join me in this adventure! No pledge amount is too small, after all. :) You can also contribute a one-time donation if that is more appealing to you: donate via Paypal.

Dr. Brainlove "Neuronal Light Nodes" I designed in 2014.

Dr. Brainlove 2.0 - I designed the lighting covers that protected and diffused the LEDs and enabled people to climb on top.

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What Happens with the Money

Money from Patreon supporters will help me cover my expenses -- my monthly living expenses, new equipment and tools (I recently bought a robot that draws!), and supplies -- which really adds up!

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Backstory (for those still reading...)

A little over four years ago, I began to question my direction in life — I had a successful but unfulfilling career in market research and was increasingly unhappy. So much of my personality and creative drive was unexpressed and withering, with no real outlet. I longed to create, but felt trapped in the world of business analysis and research. Life had to be more than this, right? I began to consider my options and my passions. Around this time, I became friends with Sean Stevens, a life-time “maker,” who introduced me to technology-enabled creativity — Arduinos, programmable LED strip, robots and motors, sensors, and the power of CAD and digital fabrication tools like laser cutting and 3D printing — and then everything clicked. (Read more about what I've done since then.)

First: soldering an LED panel I designed (2012);  Second: demoing my first LED project - fuzzy rainbow LED belt! (2012)

I realized that I needed to be creating Art, and that an amazing repertoire of tools and technology were available and accessible to me. So, after some time struggling to juggle my creative endeavors, learning many new skills, and my soul-crushing job, I took the leap: I quit my job and moved from Boston to San Francisco, to create an educational 'art-up' — dubbed  Sustainable Magic — with Sean.


Sustainable Magic has supplied me with awesome infrastructure, an inspiring mission, and sometimes paid work... but also a bunch of credit card debt, stress, and time-consuming business tasks like marketing, accounting, sales and customer management, and more... and not that much “free time” to actually spend experimenting and creating art without an express financial aim in mind. While I've received numerous art grants to make new art, those grants have mostly only covered the material costs, so I've rarely broken even on those creations either. 

While I will continue to be a part of Sustainable Magic, creating interactive art installations and teaching, I am now focusing more on my solo career in an attempt to be more productive and independent.

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About Patreon

Patreon is a platform that allows anyone to become a patron of the arts. This is a stuffy way of saying that here we have a streamlined way for you to support an artist directly. Think of it sort of as an ongoing, online tip jar; if you like an artist's work, and can't afford or don't want to necessarily buy the artwork regularly, but still want to support them in some way? This is a great way to do it. It's a nod of your head, saying, "hey, I like what you do, thanks for sharing." It's all totally optional, you can quit doing it at any time. When you pledge, you will be charged only once per month, at the end of the month, and you can cancel any time you want. Only want to tip once? That's totally okay! Read the Patron FAQ here if you have questions about how the money part works.

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Other questions? Contact me by sending a message through Patreon.
5 of 50 patrons
I'll raffle an art piece to all backers who've pledged at least $50 cumulatively.
1 of 2

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