Ashley Bella has always been drawn to the arts. Growing up, she was an athlete but decided that she was better at creating art. She oscillated between music and theater before identifying visual art as her preferred outlet.
Ashley knew she wanted to become an entrepreneur and major in art; however, family pressure swayed her to change her college major. Before completing her undergraduate degree at Georgia State University and majoring in art, Ashley started getting involved in the community. She became an advocate for mental health and started fighting against sex trafficking.
Ashley realized she could utilize her love of art to help victims of abuse, so she took the steps to get licensed in art therapy. The women she helped encouraged her to start creating her own art again.
A year later, Ashley quit her job and hosted a paint party with the last $50 she had. This was the beginning of ArtzyBella studio. Ashley did not charge for attendance to her paint party and used the experience as a sort of focus group. A friend paid Ashley $150 to paint a mural in her apartment around the same time, which led to Ashley getting mural requests.
Today, Ashley continues to paint murals as a commercial art and design studio and host paint parties through ArtzyBella’s brick and mortar studio in Southwest Atlanta.
Ashley and her company are fusing art and technology by building an app (currently in the fundraising stage) to make art therapy accessible to all. Despite appearances on Forbes and other major publications/networks, Ashley remains closely tied to her community. She had a dream of to creating jobs for other creatives and strives to tap into the local public art commission.
“I want to help cities develop strategies that celebrate the talent in their own neighborhoods,” said Ashley. Ashley now co-chairs Cultural Arts for the 13 cities that make up Aerotropolis Atlanta to do just that.
In 2023, Ashley plans to release her first body of work since takin her big jump. “These first five years of entrepreneurship have kicked my butt, I’m ready to celebrate making it this far by making art thats just for me and those who love the way I tell stories visually”
Ashley has learned that even while working with high end clients like Marriott Hotels, Delta Airlines, the people who collect her work don’t just love her use of color and line art, but they stand behind her mission.
Ashley wants to continue to tell the story of what it was like to serve and work with trafficking survivors. She also wants to visually capture the story of black women in the South and inspire young people to “shoot for the stars.” “I didn’t allow anything that I went through to make me dream small,” shared Ashley.
She encourages aspiring artists to leverage their own network and to do art any way they can. Ashley encourages “Accept that until people see what actually comes of your craft, they may not believe in you. Do it anyway,”