ASHKAHN is the studio and company of artist and designer Ashkahn Shahparnia, who brings a surf/punk/beach culture aesthetic to a wide range of work that includes graphic design and video productions, t-shirts, prints, greeting cards, postcards, beer koozies, caps, tote bags, and pencils. Danielle Rago reports.
Educated at Otis College of Art and Design, Ashkahn was deeply influenced by the aesthetic and branding acumen of street artist and designer Shepard Fairey, and interned for him after graduation. He has worked on a variety of campaigns from Sprite and Red Bull to Virgin Records and Obey, and credits his diversity and overall design sensibility to those early years working with Shepard Fairey. Like his mentor, he is endeavoring to mix high and low art and commerce in a seamless way.
On Fairey’s influence on his work, Ashkahn said, “his process really inspired me and shapes the way I work today in which everything is done by hand, very organic, different ways of creating shapes and marks which gives it a different feeling than just doing it generically through a computer program. Shepard’s work looks like he did it on a computer but he actually would cut all the shapes out of rubylith or black paper, stuff like that to achieve a different look.”
ASHKAHN’s output includes small art objects that are made in Los Angeles and incorporate everyday imagery with catchy phrases and messages. The cards, prints and fine paper goods are printed using a letterpress printing technique on cotton papers that are embossed with reflective foils and/or fluorescent ink for the text.
The inscribed phrases are all trying to communicate something whether it be a sweet nothing you might whisper to a lover or a note to a friend. Some of my favorites include: ” To me you are a work of art,” “Your kisses taste like crème brulee,” “Today Is Your Day,” and “Thanks for Saving My Ass” (right).
In person, Ashkahn comes across as playful and expressive as his cards, with a curiosity that comes across in his diverse body of work. Most recently, Ashkahn launched a shaved ice company called Lono’s Sweet Shop this past summer at the Standard Hotels in West Hollywood and Downtown LA, that just traveled to Miami for Art Basel.
Lono’s was based on Ashkahn’s memory of delicious shaved ice from Hawaii where he spent most summers as a child. He channeled that nostalgia into small batches of ice crafted from local and seasonal fruit, organic cane sugar, and reverse osmosis ice.
Find out more about ASHKAHN, Lono’s Sweet Shop and his products here.