Artist who made $10 million last year: 'It's an incredible time to be an entrepreneur'

Artist Ashley Longshore.
Courtesy Alexandra Arnold

Ashley Longshore is succeeding in ways most artists only dream about. The 44-year-old, who is based in New Orleans, tells Grow she earned $10 million in art sales in 2018 — and says her deals are getting bigger, with values increasing for collectors.

The painter has inspired comparisons to Andy Warhol. The New York Times called her "fashion's latest art darling" and "an avatar of pop feminism" in 2018.

Longshore revamped Bergdorf Goodman's Palette cafe in New York City with her splashy paintings and furnishings in 2018, and she created a series of $6,500 handbags for Judith Leiber that same year. This year, she debuted a collection for Diane Von Furstenberg, featuring 37 portraits of inspiring women, which will hang in the fashion icon's New York City flagship shop through the end of 2019.

Her works, averaging $25,000 for a 50"x50" piece, feature icons such as Audrey Hepburn and Abraham Lincoln, and sometimes a line of irreverent text. Although she could partner with a gallery, Longshore chooses to sell from her own gallery in New Orleans, so she can keep more of her income. Her collectors include "Gossip Girl" Star Blake Lively and United Therapeutics founder Martine Rothblatt.

She develops lucrative partnerships with brands: In August, she launched a limited-edition lipstick collection with Maybelline.

She also makes skillful use of social media. This year, Forbes reported she sold $1.3 million worth of artwork on Instagram in under 2 hours. Her AshleyLongshoreArt feed, with 225,000 followers, features her artwork plus fun photos and videos such as a group of Miami cheerleaders dancing, to get us, in Longshore's words, "so amped for the coming week."

She speaks to her followers in a tone that blends friend, life coach, guru, and rock star. (Her other Instagram feed, @AshleyLongshoreWorld, where she posts art, press, and notes about her process, has an audience of 40,200.)

"It's an incredible time to be an artist," she tells Grow. "It's an incredible time to be an entrepreneur."

Here are some of Longshore's top tips for crushing career and financial goals:

She gives herself a daily pep talk

Longshore makes each day count. "I wake up at 6 a.m. and I have my formula of producing artwork, being inspired, traveling, meeting people, making global entrepreneurships," she says.

"Every day at 9 a.m, [my 29-person staff and I] have a pep rally and we set the tone for my day," she says. "We don't know ... if it's gonna rain money. We are gonna try to make something inspiring every day."

"George Washington x Matisse" by Ashley Longshore.
Courtesy James Letten

She says she keeps a sharp focus on her goals, and recommends that for everyone aiming to move ahead. "The vision of where you want to be. You have to have that trifecta: to learn from your past mistakes, hit your goals in the future, and be productive in the present," she says.

Longshore says her positive self-talk started early, and she credits her success to it: "It was about, 'Why can't that be me?' and that constant rhetoric inside my head of, 'This will be me.'"

She invests in herself — and the market

"If you're starting to make a little money, the most important investment you can make is in yourself. My investment margins are usually about 50%," she says. She puts earnings into her team, travel, and art supplies.

"In my particular field, my greatest commodity is my thought," she says, so Longshore nurtures her thought with regular trips domestically or abroad. "I'll learn about a lot of things culturally to open my mind up. I'm never going to get anywhere if I just sit in front of my easel morning, noon, and night," she says.

She also invests in the stock market and real estate, and she's in it for the long term. "I am not a high-risk investor. I like a slow and steady climb," she says. "Instant gratification only gets you high, pregnant, or drunk. I don't look for that in the stock market."

I am not a high-risk investor. I like a slow and steady climb. Instant gratification only gets you high, pregnant, or drunk. I don't look for that in the stock market.
Ashley Longshore

She is her own most dedicated fan

The artist is known for her inspiring attitude, self-acceptance, and boldness. This includes a lot of trust in herself and the concepts she creates. "The weirdest idea you have could be the best idea you have," she says.

"I feel like the most important thing is to make sure that [your] inner voice is a very optimistic one. The only person you spend your entire life with is you," she says. "Every day is a new opportunity to get the ball rolling. Other than being a hard worker, positivity has gotten me where I need to go."

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