44: Ashley Harder

When we last put the spotlight on 100 creative forces in Phoenix, it was no secret there were more than 100 individuals who were making waves in the local arts community. So as we count down to our annual Best of Phoenix issue, we're profiling 100 more. Welcome (back) to 100 Creatives.

44: Ashley Harder
Ashley Harder

Ashley Harder grew up around old buildings in Boston, and says she learned a lot from her sister, who currently redevelops big-city structures and neighborhood buildings in their hometown.

In 2005, she landed in Arizona (for the second time, but more on that later) with a cosmetics gig and a social life in Scottsdale. But after she started driving Downtown and becoming involved in the arts and business scene, she decided to ditch the cosmetics industry and start investing in the infrastructure in the heart of the city.

In 2011, the local arts advocate started her own business, Harder Development, and transformed the 3,000 square-foot space at 335 W. McDowell Road into a multi-use retail spot that's hosted gallery shows, community meetings, and will soon be home to a handful of local retail businesses (and a pretty sweet mural going up this weekend).  

44: Ashley Harder
Ashley Harder and local artist Sebastien Millon, who had a show at Harder Development in 2011.

I came to Phoenix with... My high school sweetheart in my Mom's Volvo station wagon. I wanted to escape a New England winter and thought moving west to California was too much of a cliché. I'd never been here and immediately thought I'd moved to the ugliest city I'd ever seen. But being 18 years old I was determined to not admit defeat by leaving and I stayed on for a year. I came back in '05 because I was ready to admit that I loved AZ, ugly parts and all.

I make art because... I don't consider what I do 'making art' but I am a creative person that seeks out ways to express my creativity. Something within nags me to give it an outlet. This something would probably eat me alive if I didn't tend to it. I don't know, I'm trying to not find out so I take that monster out on a walk as much as I can so to speak.

I'm most productive when... I'm nurturing my creative side and pursuing work I'm passionate about. Deadlines and ample time alone don't hurt either.

My inspiration wall is full of... Photographs of my family, pictures of places I want to travel to, lots of maps and aerial photos of Phoenix and artwork made by my nieces.

I've learned most from ... Getting real with myself and acknowledging my fears, then more importantly taking a giant cannonball jump through them. This has allowed me to "do" and you learn from doing.

Good work should always... Engage its audience and be well crafted.

The Phoenix creative scene could use more... Entrepreneurial investment. We definitely aren't lacking the talent but some vehicles to guide its growth and harness the potential could be helpful.

The Creatives, so far ... (And while you're here, check out 100 Tastemakers on Chow Bella.)

100:Lara Plecas 99. Isaac Caruso 98. Brandon Gore 97. Kelsey Dake 96. Hector Ruiz 95. Caroline Battle 94: Jennifer Campbell 93. Jeff Chabot 92. Tiffiney Yazzie 91. Daniel Germani 90. Irma Sanchez 89. Daniel m. Davis 88. Kirstin Van Cleef 87. Emmett Potter 86. Sarah Hurwitz 85. Christine Cassano 84. Fred Tieken 83. Lindsay Kinkade 82. Ruben Galicia 81. Robert Uribe 80. Heidi Abrahamson 79. Josephine Davis 78. Travis Ladue 77. Taz Loomans 76. Mikey Jackson 75. Alex Empty 74. Joe Ray 73. Carol Roque 72. Daniel Funkhouser 71. Carla Chavarria 70. Hugo Medina 69. Cavin Costello 68. Claire Carter 67. Lindsay Tingstrom 66. Catherine Ruane 65. Christopher Crosby 64. Aaron Johnson 63. Brenda Eden 62. Colton Brock 61. Ernesto Moncada 60. Benjamin Phillips 59. Brad Armstrong 58. Angela Hardison 57. Tyler Quinn 56. Andrew James Benson 55. Charles Anthony Darr 54: Tiffe Fermaint 53. Eric Cox 52. Victor Vasquez 51. John Randall Nelson 50. Lauren Lee 49. Kyle Jordre 48. Julie C. Kent 47. Sean Deckert 46. Niba DelCastillo 45. Joseph Benesh

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