TSKC's Ashuni Pérez interviews border town bruja Ashley Tristán!
Let’s start at the beginning. How did Moonhowler Press begin?
Moonhowler Press started off with me wanting to start an Etsy shop to sell my artwork while I was in college. I wanted a name that represented me and that was easily recognizable. I couldn’t think of anything for a year or so and then it just clicked. The name was an inside joke with my friends during college and for some reason I just woke up and it just made sense to me. I am a night owl and everyone at school would call me a bruja. It just seemed so fitting that I stuck with it. It use to be just me getting a few sales a year through my online shop. Now my family and friends help me out with my shop and I travel throughout Texas with my printing assistant to a bunch of art events.
You have experience in plenty of mediums like painting, printmaking, and even three dimensional work with printed materials. Do you have a favourite medium? Are they are any mediums you’d still like to explore?
Printmaking is my main concentration and what I enjoy the most. Within that, relief (making woodcuts, linocuts, etc.) and bookmaking are by far my favorite mediums. I love that it’s a good mix of working with 2D and 3D elements. It keeps my hands and mind busy. It also allows me to make multiples of the same work and makes art more accessible to those who can’t afford to pay high prices. Also printmaking has its roots in DIY grassroots and guerrilla movements. It’s very community based and allows me to connect more hands-on with other folks that certain mediums just don’t. I’ve dabbled in a lot of other mediums but lately I’ve been really wanting to get back into screen printing. I took some classes in college and had a hard time with it but I’ve been inspired lately to try again.
Quite a few typical Mexican home remedies appear in your work; the kind that an abuelita might insist upon you. Have you tried them all?
I’ve tried so many home remedies sometimes I didn’t even notice that they were home remedies versus actual medical advice. I’ve always just thought of them as a regular form of treatment. There’s just something so nostalgic and a great sense of trust whenever you get a burning funnel placed in your ear or having your momma rub a cold egg all over your limbs.
There’s a lot of humor in your work. From pizza to chihuahuas, to be honest, your work consistently puts a smile on my face. How do you decide which ideas make the cut?
I carry around a sketchbook with me almost everyday and jot down ideas whenever I get the chance. Sometimes I don’t like a sketch that I’m working on so I’ll move onto something else. Then months or years later I’ll just randomly decide to work on it again and it’ll just come together. I like to work on things that make me happy or help ease the pain of everyday life. Things that people can relate to no matter how silly or depressing it is. If it makes me feel good or helps me to heal while in the process of making it, then it makes the cut.
Where do you find inspiration for new pieces?
Usually within my community, my culture, and the way humans interact and react to one other. Especially here on the Texas-Mexico frontera. Also storytelling and hearing about other people’s lives and theirs stories, whether they are true or tall tales.
I quite like your Loteria series and the way you’ve revamped the traditional images. La Borracha is an especially relatable card. Will you be continuing the series?
Yes, I am! I’ve slowed down on the series since I currently do not have the space to be making big prints but I already have a few more designs lined up to start carving. Hopefully I’ll be getting out “El Sol” by the end of this year. Fingers crossed!
The theme of this issue is Yellow. What comes to mind when you think of yellow?
Yellow to me is growth, clarity, nostalgia, introspection, spiritual enlightenment. It’s buzzing sometimes dizzying.
What’s your favorite way to use yellow?
I love using it in the background and as highlights. It’s my favorite color but a little bit goes a long way.
Do you have any projects in the works right now?
I’ve currently been sketching up some ideas for some tarot-themed prints. Also have been working on some new spells for velas (candles) but it’s taking some time to test them out.
Where can we see more of your work?
You can find more of my work online at my official website and webstore, MoonhowlerPress
For more personal, behind the scenes content you can find me as @MoonhowlerPress on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter.