Artist Interview: Ashley Longshore

Ms. Longshore with one of her chairs at the Chelsea Market Anthropologie

Anthropologie is constantly looking for new talent to develop both clothing and homewares. For the recently-opened Chelsea Market location in New York City several gifted artists were tapped to contribute unique projects. I had the opportunity to sit with one of the artists, Sarah Ashley Longshore, last Friday at City Crab for a meal and a chat. Ms. Longshore and partner Michael Smith were still basking in the glow of the store’s launch party the night before. They were effusive and so fun to talk to!

Ms. Longshore, a pop artist living in New Orleans, created a special line of painted latte bowls specially for the Chelsea Market store. Much more on this project below. She also created a line of abstract chairs which are currently available on Anthropologie’s website. The connection to Anthropologie came through fellow New Orleans resident Seema Sudan — known to Effortless Anthropologie’s readership as the designer behind LiaMolly. Sudan is also a former Anthropologie designer who helped to set up the company’s sweater line. During a New Orleans visit Sudan took several Anthropologie heads by Ms. Longshore’s Market St gallery where they were captivated with a new chair project. Though Ms. Longshore typically works with materials like glittered vinyl and patent leather for her vividly painted chairs she was working on a new construction from hand-painted muslin. This proved to be love at first sight for Anthropologie, which promptly ordered a run of the chairs for its stores and catalogues.

Ms. Longshore was given one year to produce the chair line and described the experience as incredible. “It was so hard,” she said. “Because I knew about this project for a long time but I had to keep it a secret! But it was so much fun too. Anthropologie’s team was so supportive of letting me maintain my artistic integrity. For a company like Anthropologie to approach me…it was huge for me! It’s important to utilize corporate collaborations to get your name out there but you don’t want to sell out either. Anthropologie gave me such freedom as an artist. There was very minimal direction on their part.”

The result is a mid-century-styled armchair upholstered in cotton. Adorning the cotton is a hand-painted abstract inspired by a painting of a girl swimming. The colors clearly evoke spring and summer while the painting itself mirrors current pieces in Anthropologie’s clothing line. And like almost all of Anthropologie’s furniture products this chair is made in the USA.

If production is the nod of approval, then additional projects are the true mark of success. So when Anthropologie’s Special Projects Director Patty Isen contacted Ms. Longshore earlier this year about an additional venture it was a thrilling surprise. This time around Anthropologie commissioned Ms. Longshore to create 300 hand-painted latte bowls specifically for an artists’ series at the Chelsea Market Anthropologie. Longshore quickly agreed and got right to work. The company was once again impressed and quickly grew the order to 1,000 bowls (!!!), eventually topping out at over 3,000. But that’s not the best part — in late February it became clear that the Portugal factory producing the bowls was not going to be able to ship in time for Ms. Longshore to complete the entire order and get those bowls to NYC. So Anthropologie sent Longshore (and partner Smith) to Portugal to wrap up the project at the source. The couple spent a few weeks in Portugal as Ms. Longshore created her abstract works of art. And the result? An intriguing set of bowls with no two alike. Over 500 were in stock at Chelsea’s launch party last Thursday but were selling quickly. These bowls will also be available in limited quantities at Anthropologie’s New Orleans outpost (opening in August 2010).

I asked Ms. Longshore if Anthropologie gave more direction for this second project. “Oh no, no,” was the reply. “They gave a very general frame of reference. Nothing too figurative, they said. Abstract. I had free creative license just as I did with the chair project. And it frees you up to do your most interesting work.”

I got a good look at both the bowls and the chair at the Chelsea party. And let me admit this — I’ve since bought two of the bowls for myself. They are spectacular. I hear Ms. Longshore met Urban Outfitters CEO Glen Senk at the Chelsea party. How’d that go?

“You never what you’re going to get with a company CEO. Usually they’re removed from the day-to-day. I expected to have to explain myself and my role, why I was there. Instead [Mr. Senk] immediately asked me about each of my projects for Anthropologie. He was so personable!”

Lucky duck.

So what’s next for Ms. Longshore? Another project with Anthropologie, debuting in May. (More on this in an upcoming post.) The pop artist also runs her own gallery in New Orleans, featuring her aforementioned chair line as well as huge contemporary portraits and photography. She counts actresses, producers and royalty among her clientele. Ms. Longshore also creates performance art and is working on a cocktail ring line. It’s true — the woman never sleeps!

And why should she? So far her personal journey has taken her Montgomery, Ala. to Montana to Europe to New Orleans, with plenty more destinations to come. After eating one meal with Longshore and Smith I felt like I’d known them for years and had been along for the ride all along. And it’s impossible to walk away without wanting to champion Ms. Longshore’s work. Her passion, spirit and proclivity for success shine through an irrepressible smile and infectious personality.

“Art — to me, is serious, exhilirating and nerve-racking at the same time,” Ms. Longshore told me. “Buying fine art is like falling in love. I channel all of those emotions into everything I do.”

Besides Ms. Longshore’s gallery in New Orleans, she also has reps in New York City, Los Angeles, Houston and Miami, as well as international representation. If you’re interested in contacting her directly you can visit her website, email her or call her at (504)-458-5500 to set up an appointment.


  1. April 20, 2010 / 9:25 pm

    LOVED THIS POST! I would enjoy more like it Roxy. This is a great idea.

  2. April 20, 2010 / 9:32 pm

    Totally agreed, I had such a blast writing this post. It was like being back on the A&E desk at my college paper. 🙂 Would love to do it again…

  3. April 20, 2010 / 9:35 pm

    I WANT that chair! What a beautiful design by a very talented artist!Thanks for the wonderful interview, Roxy.

  4. April 20, 2010 / 9:43 pm

    What a great interview and I love her work! That chair is amazing. Thanks for posting this–I really enjoyed reading it.

  5. April 20, 2010 / 9:52 pm

    This is so cool! Thank you for sharing with us your conversation with the artist. I adore the chair!

  6. April 20, 2010 / 10:05 pm

    What a great, well written interview piece Roxy! 🙂 It was really so interesting to read. Ms. Longshore's work is fantastic and I love how Anthropologie has chosen to collaborate with and support talented independent artists like her. And that chair is just fantastic by the way! It reminds me of the underwater shot of the Flying Lotus dress from last May's catalog 🙂 I hope to see it turn up in one of my local stores soon.

  7. April 20, 2010 / 10:38 pm

    Great post, Roxy! I love reading about the "behind the scenes" parts of Anthropologie. It's nice to know more about the people behind the products/decor at our favorite store 🙂

  8. April 20, 2010 / 11:51 pm

    I really enjoyed this, Roxy. Thanks for doing it and doing it so well!

  9. April 20, 2010 / 11:59 pm

    Wonderful post! I really enjoy that Anthro works with artists on this kind of level and how nice to hear they have freedom in the creative projects.

  10. Stephanie
    April 21, 2010 / 12:17 am

    Great post Roxy!

  11. April 21, 2010 / 2:54 am

    What an interesting post! It's always neat to hear more behind the scenes from the artists. The chair is beautiful and makes me wish we were redecorating!

  12. May 10, 2011 / 4:31 pm

    great article. As an artist this is hopeful and inspiring!!xo

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