December 2015 - Austin Trip

(Scroll down for the photos from this trip!)

For a couple of months, my friend Shellee Laurent and I had wanted to get out of town for a while. We'd been wanting to take a break from Laredo in hopes of replenishing our minds and even get some sort of inspiration. My friends over at AcoustiCanvas were having a "Holidaze" show and vending opportunity so we took it as an excuse to get out and just go have some fun and try to make some extra cash on the side.

The morning of December 11th, we loaded up my car, grabbed some coffee and embarked on our little adventure! Despite the crazy truck drivers switching lanes without checking their blindspots, the drive to Austin went smoothly and took about 3.5 hours (as per usual). Shellee and I talked the whole way over and only stopped at Buck-ee's for cough drops since I had been getting sick and a quick restroom break. As soon as we hit the Travis County line, my excitement to be back in the city was radiating out of me and could not be contained.

Our first stop of the day was of course food. We decided on burritos from Freebird's since we'd actually had been craving a good burrito just days before. On the way over to the South Congress location, I was showing Shellee all the places I had been and talked to her about all the good memories I've had and the other awesome restaurants that were just right down the street from our destination. She seemed to have liked the vibe the city was giving off and it was honestly such a perfect weather day that it gave a better likeness to it.

After eating half our burritos, we decided to hit up the HOPE Outdoor Gallery (aka Castle Hill). We ended up spending a few hours walking around and just taking in the city from the amazing view on top. We saw a couple of graffiti artists working on their craft (one in particular named @____flat____) and even spotted @DaddyOtis walking around but wasn't able to say hello to him since he was talking to a couple of folks and then disappeared when we got back to the bottom. We even had the chance to talk to Lakey for a brief moment as he was eating what seemed to be a giant cereal marshmallow treat. I pointed out to Shellee all the cool pieces on the wall done by graffiti artists that were part of the Spratx family and that I followed on Instagram. We were slightly bummed that we didn't bring any cans to do a bit of painting but as we were walking out, we saw a little trailer that was selling some nifty spraypaint. (Assuming they were some of the folks from Spratx.) We bought a black and a green/tealish color and did a couple of cheesy things where it wasn't blocking or covering any cool pieces that were already up.

Since it was getting close to traffic time, we decided to head north so we could be closer to our vending destination later in the evening. We decided to stop at Terra Toys to go see if my wonderful friend Liz Hermanson was working. Luckily we were able to catch her at good time. We caught up for about an hour and talked about a million things. Luckily she's one of those types of friends that you continue from where you left off even though you haven't seen each other in a while. It was like if I had just seen her the day before and we were still living close to each other. She shared some exciting news with us and she said that EAST went very well for her, so I was very happy to hear that. Shellee bought her kids some cool gifts and we had a fun time looking around.

Finally we headed to our main destination for the night. Since I had not been near the Lakeline area very much, I had the hardest time finding the Austin School of Music over there. So bad to the point where I turned into a nonexistent road and onto some grass. We called my friend Jasmine Jew to help us find our way. Luckily we were in the right plaza, just on the wrong side. We unloaded the car and set up our tables. I was so excited to see all my artist friends such as Jasmine, Amber & Christina (from the Austin Batbox), Angel, Brenda (also known as GrannyGoodfish), Anissa, and Mooncat. As the night progressed, some of my other Austin friends joined us. I got to see my best friends Alexis and Anastasia. Even got to see my art school friend Rachael and her boyfriend and finally got to meet Jaime, one of my Instagram friends, in person. For some reason the vending part was a blur. I met a bunch of new folks and even talked shop with some guy who was starting his own screenprinting set up. I remember drinking half my beer and feeling already buzzed since I was feeling the high from all the excitement and not eating dinner.

Then as always after an art show, some of my friends, Shellee, and I headed downtown to go get a couple of drinks and go dancing. Now this part was more of a blur than anything. I was fine, I did not drink much but I was feeling the cold I had kicking my ass but I pushed through it. As per usual, we hit up Barcelona and Rain on 4th. We met up with my hometown friend BJ who I hadn't seen in a very long while and even got to see my friend Jerry Martinez. Since we were staying with Anastasia for the night and she had to work the next morning, Shellee, Anastasia, and I headed back to her place. (Shoutout to Stephen and Anastasia for being so kind and letting us crash with her.)

The next day we got up early since Anastasia had to work and we normally don't sleep much anyways. We were both feeling the night before hitting us but we were alright. We got lunch at Mesa Rosa off of FM 620 with my friends Angel and Priscilla Serenity since Priscilla was not able to go to the AcoustiCanvas show and we hadn't seen each other in a year. It was very nice seeing her again since she has been offline for a while. Alexis also met up with us there one last time before we headed out so it was a good time.

As we were finishing eating and paying our tab, I got a message on Twitter from my online friend Matt Magill asking if we could meet up for drinks since we were in town. I slightly panicked 'cause I was definitely not expecting a message from him and especially 'cause I rarely check my Twitter messages and I was surprised that my phone even alerted me. I asked Shellee if she was up for meeting another artist and she gave the A-OK. I messaged him back and we ended up meeting at Stay Golden. The first thing I noticed about him was how amazingly tall he was. Like I still can't get over the fact. (Sorry, Matt!) He bought us a couple of beers and we sat outside and all talked for a good while. He definitely remembered a lot of things about me that pretty much made me blush 'cause he's one of my favorite artists living in Austin. I definitely felt really shy the whole time (and slightly hungover) but I was very excited to have had the chance to have met him. He even gave me one of his drawings, a print, and a bunch of stickers and that I was blown away by his kindness! Since I had my art stuff with me, I gave him a couple of my pieces in return. We all took a picture together but had to take several because I didn't realize my manual focus was on.

Finally, we said our goodbyes and headed out to do a couple of last things before we returned to Laredo. We wanted to go to ToyJoy but since their newer location was downtown, it was hard to find cheap parking especially where they are located. But since we were in the area and wanted to get some sweets before we left, we went to Voodoo Doughnuts. We got there at the perfect time and it only took us a few minutes to get our treats for our families.

The trip back seemed to have taken forever. Maybe because we were tired, sleepy, and we kept stopping for small breaks. By the time we hit San Antonio, my cough was worse than ever, I was losing my voice, and my mind was going numb. But we made it back in good time and after dropping Shellee off, I passed out for 12 hours.

I feel like this was a much needed trip for the both of us and I feel like it's made our friendship stronger because we were able to be around each other for over 24 hours and we still had a really good time. All my friends loved Shellee and thought that she was the sweetest. I don't think I have felt as happy as I did then in a good while so it was great to have done this trip. Even writing this a couple of weeks later, I still feel that high from the trip. It put a lot of things into perspective that I had been trying to push away or just didn't realize how I was feeling internally. It helped me realize that I really need to push myself creatively and find a way to get back to Austin. It's going to be hard and might take a while but I really need to do what makes me truly happy. Laredo is home and always will be no matter what. But being in Austin has turned me into a better person and I truly enjoy the big city life.

So as the year comes to a close, I've been looking back on all the things I have accomplished and done. I've been a part of several shows and even had my first solo show, which even though it was just at a cafe, it's still a pretty big accomplishment for me. I've been a part of a print trade, worked with a model for my "clothing line", done a lot of vending ops, and I am very thankful for all of it. I'll be making another blogpost soon with photos that summed up 2015.

Thanks for reading and for all the love and support. So let's give it up for the new year!


Ashley Tristán