Mood Board

The Hudson Company + Ashley Seil Smith

New York based artist Ashley Seil Smith

New York based artist Ashley Seil Smith

I like the warmth and texture inherent in the Reclaimed Heart Pine flooring, there’s a lot of character and line variation within the grain, which I think complements the line work in my drawings.
— Ashley Seil Smith
The artist at work.

The artist at work.

The Hudson Company + Ashley Seil Smith

Ashley Seil Smith is an artist based in Manhattan, New York with a studio in the lower Hudson Valley.  She has a background in cultural anthropology but earned an MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay from the School of Visual Arts.  In 2012 she cofounded The Period Store and eventually sold it in 2015 to focus on editorial illustration, fine art, and teaching. Ashley's commercial clients include Google, Case Agency, Forbes, Oyster Books, Isthmus, and various academic journals and nonprofits. The artist lives, and often works, in Manhattan, but escapes to the Hudson River and her studio near Bear Mountain whenever she can. In addition to freelance, commissioned, and fine art work, Ashley teaches art to a variety of ages around Manhattan with Scribble Art Workshop.

The Hudson Company first discovered Ashley's work via her inspiring Instagram feed which is, like her work, full of whimsical observations of both the natural and built environments. It would be easy to peruse Ashley's work - particularly her pen and ink drawings and ethnographic prints - and see it as simplistic. But we think that it is precisely this deceptive simplicity that is so intriguing about Ashley's work. In our opinion, there is a timeless, reflective beauty in her (often small scale) drawings as well as an exotic mystique to her prints and graphic design work.

This summer we reached out to Ashley and asked her to allow us into her creative process. Along with the insights below, Ashley was also kind enough to create a custom mood board for us, using Reclaimed Heart Pine [Original Face] as her backdrop. 

5 Questions with Artist Ashley Seil Smith

Tell us about the tools that you've included in your mood board, what's their origin story? 

I enjoy collecting older tools that can actually be used in my art practice.  Some of them were picked up at antique stores across the United States (particularly along the Hudson River Valley, where my studio is), others I inherited from my grandma, who dabbled in art and was a wildly creative person.  A lot of older tools were designed beautifully, simply, and with quality material, so using them is an esthetic and practical as well.  My rulers are my favorite tools - natural material with interesting designs and stories to tell.

How do you use mood boards in your work? What role do they play in your creative process?

Mood boards keep things concise - I believe "good" mood boards have some parameters - a limit on how much you can add, so it forces you to think through what really inspires you and why.  So much of creativity is about making decisions, and a mood board helps you identify specific things you like or aim for in your own work.

I always keep a small collection of images on a folder in my desktop, and these act as a general mood board for my work, which spans across many mediums.  They are images that I truly love and that inspire me in some way, whether it's the color palette, technique, concept, or the way the image makes me feel.  I go through my little desktop mood board about once a month and always end up editing something out and adding other things that I like better.

There are so many places to go for inspiration these days, where do you go to get inspired?

I like going to places that set my aesthetic standard pretty high, and since I live in Manhattan, I have the opportunity to visit museums fairly often - the Met, MoMA, or Museum of Natural History are some favorites.  If an art exhibit inspires me I always buy the exhibit catalogue, so I have a nice collection of art books started and I refer to them when I'm in a rut.

Other than museums, I also turn to creative sources I trust, like The Great Discontent, and I see a lot of wonderful work on Instagram and Pinterest.  Pinterest, in particular, is great when I'm doing initial research for a project.  And, like many artists, I find a great deal of inspiration in nature. If I'm not working, I'm likely walking outside with my dogs or out for a trail run or hike around Inwood Hill Park.

What can you tell us about the drawing you included in your mood board: was that an original for this mood board or something you created separately? 

This particular ink drawing was done at the beginning of the year and was inspired by Yosemite National Park. I find myself drawing a lot of scenes from places I love or that inspire me. As you can tell, I enjoy the simplicity of pen and ink as well, it's a simple medium that's good for travel, so a lot of my ink drawings are done on location.

Why did you chose this particular Hudson Company flooring as the background for mood board?

I like the warmth and texture inherent in the Reclaimed Heart Pine flooring, there's a lot of character and line variation within the grain, which I think complements the line work in my drawings. I'm a big fan of Hudson Company flooring - you manage to cover all parts of the spectrum, from rustic to modern to classic and beyond.  Natural textures paired with modern design inspire me, which is one of the reasons I started following Hudson Company on various social medium platforms. 

You can learn more about Ashley's work on her website and you can follow her creative journey on Instagram. All above photos are taken from Ashley's website or Instagram feed. All mood board photos by Gentl and Hyers

Learn more about Reclaimed Heart Pine [Original Face] here. 

Mood board by Ashley Seil Smith for The Hudson Company

Mood board by Ashley Seil Smith for The Hudson Company

The Hudson Company + Amee Allsop

Custom mood board by architect  Amee Allsop , created for The Hudson Company. Photo set by  Gentl and Hyers.

Custom mood board by architect Amee Allsop, created for The Hudson Company. Photo set by Gentl and Hyers.

Growing up in Australia gave me a love for the sea and the indoor/outdoor lifestyle; since it is such a young country it is not bound by many archetypes. It was there that I learned to find beauty primarily in functional forms, rather than in decoration.
— AMEE ALLSOP

The Hudson Company + architect Amee Allsop

This year, The Hudson Company has been closely following the inspiring work of New York based, Australian-bred architect Amee Allsop.

As you can see from the photos above, Amee has a distinct approach to architecture which she describes as 'an amalgamation of the city and the sea' - a theme she has developed as her career has taken her from the South Pacific coastline to New York City. With design experience in these two juxtaposed contexts, Amee is continually inspired by the contrast of wide open landscape and dense verticality.

With each architectural endeavor, Amee's design process considers space, proportion, light and materiality whilst working closely with the client and building site. For Amee, quality materials and craftsmanship are both of central importance so that her designed spaces do not feel 'disposable' but, rather, timeless and inspiring. In the spirit of Australian living, Amee's work elevate the simple and beautiful essentials of living - such as a bathtub in an open bedroom - and embodies a minimal lifestyle, rich in tactual details.

This summer we asked Amee to create a custom mood board for us and then share some insights into her creative process as well. Here are our 5 Questions with Amee Allsop...

5 QUESTIONS WITH ARCHITECT AMEE ALLSOP

Tell us about the items included in your mood board, what's their origin story? And, is there one item that's a favorite?

The origin of these materials is, for the most part, a mystery to me. And I think that is really what makes them so beautiful to me. Mostly, they are found objects: a lump of concrete right off the street, a sample of metal work from a SOHO workshop, some shelled walnuts from the corner store, a few elegant bits from the art supply shop, and then there's this gorgeous handmade copper spoon (which I've always been so curious about). 

But my favorite object has to be the photo of my son’s squishy bum. The photo was taken when he was newborn and it sits on my desk and reminds me that everything I do is not for me, it’s for the future.

How do you use mood boards in your professional work? 

Honestly, I don’t always use mood boards when I'm designing because materiality tends to evolve over the course of a project. But there is always a need for a starting point, and so, in putting together a mood board for The Hudson Company, it all started with the wood flooring sample. 

In my work, I tend to use contrasting materials in a way that makes them feel like they belong together: raw steel with smooth marble, copper and linen, walnut and oak. I feel like it's a way to use tension to create harmony. For this mood board concept, I was drawn to the character of this Select Harvest White Oak [Capella Finish] and how it was perfectly imperfect.

There are so many places to go for inspiration these days: books, blogs, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc. What sources do you typically or consistently turn to? 

That's true, these days, there are almost too many places to go for inspiration. So, the challenge becomes about reduction. When it comes to things that inspire me on a regular basis, I’m often surprised and challenged by tailored clothes and personal style, by the arts and also by traveling.

I recently travelled to Scandinavia and was inspired by the street lamps, signage, and grate drains in the streets there - they stood out to me because they were so different to what we have here in NYC. It those little things that you don’t see photos of on the internet everyday that tend to catch my eye and challenge me to think in a new way.

When it comes to design, how do you feel your Australian background has influenced you? 

Growing up in Australia gave me a love for the sea and the indoor/outdoor lifestyle; since it is such a young country it is not bound by many archetypes. It was there that I learned to find beauty primarily in functional forms, rather than in decoration. And yet, this is really contrasted with the New York City aesthetic and its history of industrial ornamentation, which is also so inspiring. I suppose I’m still on an ever-evolving journey of finding the harmony between 'The City and The Sea.'

Why did you chose this particular Hudson Company flooring as the background for mood board?

When I visited The Hudson Company Showroom in Brooklyn, this particular flooring was just begging to be touched. When I first noticed it, I didn't know anything about the Select Harvest White Oak [Capella Finish] but it looked to me like it was from some really old tree that had had a good, long life and now was given a new life as a carefully crafted and functional object.

You can learn more about Amee work on her website and you can follow her creative journey on InstagramAll Amee Allsop Studio photos provided by Amee herself. All mood board photos by Gentl and Hyers

Learn more about Select Harvest White Oak [Capella Finish] here. 

The Hudson Company + Amanda Jane Jones

Define Magazine,  founded by designer Amanda Jane Jones

Define Magazine, founded by designer Amanda Jane Jones

Define came out of what felt like a need. There were so many artists that I collaborate with who talked about wanting more opportunities to create work just for the sake of creating.
— Amanda Jane Jones
The designer at home.

The designer at home.

A peak inside  Define Magazine.

A peak inside Define Magazine.

The Hudson Company + Amanda Jane Jones

Amanda Jane Jones is a award-winning, freelance graphic designer and art director based in Chicago, IL but currently living with her family in Geneva, Switzerland. During her career, Amanda has collaborated with a variety of creative brands, including VSCO, Solly Baby, Kinfolk Magazine (as co-founder), and Artifact Uprising. Amanda's current passion project is the elegant new creative quarterly, Define Magazine.

When we asked Amanda to create a custom mood board for our ongoing series of creative collaborations, we knew it would be be a gorgeous, minimalist's meditation on color and simplicity. In this, we certainly weren't disappointed. But it's the story behind the items that Amanda chose to feature in her mood board that are especially fascinating: photos of her children, Pantone color swatches, and skipping stones from the shores of Lake Michigan.

Here is the story behind Amanda's lovely mood board for The Hudson Company...

5 Questions with Amanda Jane Jones

Tell us about the items included in your mood board, what's their origin story? Why did you select them for this mood board?

I'm always looking for calming influences in my life and strive for my home to be minimal, quiet, simple and calming. And since we live just a quick walk away from Lake Michigan (where I vacationed as a child with my family) I often take my children there throughout the year. The colors of the lake have always inspired me. Every time I visit the lake, I come home with at least one rock that we keep in jars on our bookshelves. The homes along Lake Michigan - especially in the Glen Arbor area - have always inspired me as well, with their white-washed wood exteriors. The Lake brings back peaceful, happy, calm memories. If the kids (or I) are ever grumpy or in a slump of some sort, the Lake is the first place we visit - the wind coming off of Lake Michigan seems to cure all. 

How do you use mood boards in your professional work? What role do they play in your creative process?

I utilize a lot of mood boards in my work. It's a huge part of my design process. I start with brainstorming, looking through my collection of books to get ideas. I also have an inspiration wall at home that I love to cover with ephemera I've collected from my travels or received from friends.

Tell us about your inspiration for Define Magazine: where did the concept come from and what inspired you to create this publication?

Define came out of what felt like a need. There were so many artists that I collaborate with who talked about wanting more opportunities to create work just for the sake of creating. It's hard to make time for personal work amid the day to day of creating for clients - so it was born out of an idea to create a space for artists to feel free to create for the sake of creating.

From my own experience, I know that artists hunger to work on projects uninhibited by the client filter and we jump at a chance to collaborate with other artists on a global scale—to make something beautiful and thought-provoking. The basis of Define is simple: each issue focuses on a single word defined by a unique set of artists through various mediums. 

So far it's been exciting to see artists explore the same theme through different perspectives. We hope it's a magazine that resonates with both artists and art lovers, so that we are able to accumulate a collection of definitions that create a beautiful anthology to be enjoyed and re-defined for years to come

Are there specific places that you turn when you need fresh ideas or inspiration? Particular books, other creative people, blogs, etc.?

When I'm in a design slump, I always go for a walk. Fresh air is always a quick fix. Also, books - both old and new. I don't think you can ever have too many books. Oh, and I love Maira Kalman - she's an endless inspiration to me.

Why did you chose this particular Hudson Company flooring as the background for mood board?

With Select Harvest Ash [Neva Finish], I love how white it is - the color is just perfect. Again, there's something calming about this kind of floor and so I'm naturally drawn to the tone and fell of Neva. At home, we recently painted our kitchen floor white and I love how it's brightened our space.

You can learn more about Amanda Jane's work on her website and you will certainly want to follow her on Instagram as well. Here you can learn more about Define Magazine. All mood board photos by Gentl and Hyers

Learn more about Select Harvest [Neva Finish] here

Custom mood board by designer Amanda Jane Jones for The Hudson Company, featuring  Select Harvest Ash [Neva Finish] flooring.

Custom mood board by designer Amanda Jane Jones for The Hudson Company, featuring Select Harvest Ash [Neva Finish] flooring.