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  • Ashley Griffin, with much support from husband Mike, delves into horror fantasy art, from pin-up centaurs to pencil drawings of “Vikings” TV characters Ragnar Lothbrok and Lagertha.
    Photo by Zach Sparks
    Ashley Griffin, with much support from husband Mike, delves into horror fantasy art, from pin-up centaurs to pencil drawings of “Vikings” TV characters Ragnar Lothbrok and Lagertha.

Shot Through The Heart: Ashley Griffin Makes Scary Good Art

Zach Sparks
View Bio
September 19, 2017

Ashley Griffin has many friends, but not all of them are living.

The Pasadena wife and mother has an affinity for horror fantasy art, so much of her time is spent sketching aliens and painting superheroes, and, through the lens of realism, transforming the dead into the undead.

“I love the gore and the zombies and the horror,” said Ashley, naming “Silent Hill,” “The Legend of Zelda,” “The Witcher” and “Final Fantasy” as some of her favorite games and movies.

Although she has influences, her work does not copy images that have been plastered all over the web.

“She will throw her own thing on instead of copying,” explained Ashley’s husband, Mike Griffin. Flipping through her portfolio, he added, “Where else are you going to see a pin-up centaur?”

The work and the mediums are diverse. Bound within the same pages as the centaur are pencil drawings of actors Natalie Portman and Heath Ledger, watercolors of a menacing Cheshire Cat and Leeloo from “The Fifth Element,” and a digitally enhanced watercolor of a Klingon woman.

There are also works created entirely from Ashley’s imagination: a zombie lady with flesh ripped from her nose and mouth, and a turquoise alien with horns clutching a deer’s heart. A digital piece renders a crow squawking as it perches itself near a woman’s clavicle.

“With the portraits, like Natalie Portman, things are relatable because everyone knows them,” Mike said. “With the mythological and original work, it’s cool because everyone can have their own interpretation.”

Those creations are the work of an artist who is mostly self-taught. Ashley’s grandmother, a painter, showed her how to draw through simple shapes.

She took a few classes, Color Theory and Finger Drawing, but mostly learned through books and videos. “I like a lot of contrast, like putting dark against white spaces,” she said.

“Originally I wasn’t a color artist,” she added. “I was forced into that world because of a tattoo apprenticeship. But here, you can see colors that sing together.”

Ashley is open to doing art for a comic book or doing character design for a video game, and in the last year, she has traveled with Mike to several conventions. For the second time, she will set up a booth at Baltimore Comic Con – held from September 22-24 at the Baltimore Convention Center – lugging with her a batch of her artwork digitalized and put on cardstock.

By her side, Mike will brainstorm ways to make the table appealing to event attendees. Last year, he concocted his version of Nuka Cola, a fruity soft drink introduced in the “Fallout” post-apocalyptic video game franchise.

A Navy veteran who is into woodworking, leatherworking and Norse mythology, Mike doesn’t mind. He is equally intrigued by the convention scene, and he used to fashion his own cosplay costumes.

Together, the couple formed The Griffin’s Forge to market their work. For more information, visit www.agriffinart.wixsite.com/griffinsforge or find “The Griffin’s Forge – Ashley Griffin” on Facebook. As for the future, Ashley will keep pushing into uncharted territory with her paintings and drawings.

“My primary work as a tattoo artist is what pays the bills,” Ashley said. “It’s so permanent that it scares me sometimes. But I have a great mentor. As far as the artwork, I would like to do more conventions. I’ve seen so many artists successful in the convention world and they get to travel all over.”

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