Ashley Naftule: Actor, Improviser and Theater Performance Organizer

Ashley Naftule, actor, improviser and theater performance organizer, photographed at Desoto Central Market in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Ashley Naftule, actor, improviser and theater performance organizer, photographed at Desoto Central Market in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero


Ashley Naftule
www.ashleynaftule.com

For followers of the Phoenix community theater scene, Ashley Naftule is a constant fixture, whether he’s organizing shows like 7 Minutes in Heaven at Space 55, performing characters such as professional arm wrestler Thunderbolt Tsunami on stage, or presenting short plays he has written at events such as Phoenix Fringe. The 32-year-old Scottsdale resident constantly comes up with creative personalities and ideas for the stage to keep audiences entertained, and you can catch him next this Thursday, December 3, when he’ll be performing at the PEP (Phoenix Educational Programming) Rally variety show at Lawn Gnome Publishing in Phoenix. The show kicks off at 8 p.m., and this week’s theme spotlights vignettes about the occult.

Naftule, who works as a copywriter for marketing agency Loud Rumor during the day, is the “Czar of Limited Engagements” at Space 55, where he runs special events at the theater. He shared why he’s so passionate about the stage and the local theater scene, and you can hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born and raised here. My whole family is from France. My mom is from Algeria, and my dad is from Switzerland, and they moved to the States around 40 years ago and drifted here.

I was born in Phoenix, went to Horizon High School, and went to ASU for a few years. Continue reading

Natasha Duran-Lynch: Fashion Designer and Founder of Hues of Ego

Natasha Duran-Lynch, fashion designer and founder of Hues of Ego, photographed at Kierland Commons in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Natasha Duran-Lynch, fashion designer and founder of Hues of Ego, photographed at Kierland Commons in Scottsdale wearing a coat she designed, by Nicki Escudero

Natasha Duran-Lynch
www.huesofego.com

In just a few years, Natasha Duran-Lynch has catapulted to the center of the Phoenix fashion scene, winning Phoenix Fashion Week‘s Couture Designer of the Year title this year, after only graduating from fashion design school in 2012. Duran-Lynch has her own line, Hues of Ego, which focuses on blending structure with femininity.

You can catch the 32-year-old Scottsdale resident on home shopping channel EVINE Live early next year, where she’ll be selling some designs inspired by her award-winning line. Keep reading to learn the inspiration behind Duran-Lynch’s designs, and you can hear her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

My mom. We moved here when I was in high school. I’m originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and she just didn’t see us being there any more.

I graduated from Highland High School and went to ASU, where I was studying for my master’s in architecture and a minor in design before attending Collins College. Continue reading

Michael Carson: Artist

Michael Carson, artist represented by Bonner David Galleries, photographed at his home in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Michael Carson, artist, photographed at his home in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Michael Carson
www.instagram.com/mcarson1999

Michael Carson’s paintings are pieces that transcend time, with figures that emanate classic cool, in muted colors that give the works an immortal feel. It’s amazing the 42-year-old Phoenix artist is self-taught, since he has collectors from around the world who have followed him since he pursued his professional art career a dozen years ago.

You can see an exhibition of more than 20 of Carson’s works starting this Thursday, November 19, at Bonner David Galleries in Scottsdale. The Nefariousness exhibition includes some paintings on metal and runs through December 8.

Carson, who is also represented by Arcadia Contemporary in New York City, talked about what has inspired his latest collection and how he’s made it as a professional artist. You can hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video below.

What brought you to Arizona?

Five years ago, my wife got a job opportunity. She didn’t want to take it, but I was in a spot in life where I needed to move some place. I had that need, that feel for travel, and I was selling out of a gallery in Scottsdale called Bonner David. It seemed like the stars aligned, and we took a chance and moved here in 2010.

I was born in Minneapolis and lived there basically my whole life until moving here. Continue reading

Kerrilynn Gallagher: Stand-Up Comedian

Kerrilynn Gallagher, stand-up comedian in the Phoenix area, photographed at Luci's Healthy Marketplace in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Kerrilynn Gallagher, stand-up comedian in the Phoenix area, photographed at Luci’s Healthy Marketplace in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Kerrilynn Gallagher
twitter.com/kergal14

Kerrilynn Gallagher brings uber-relatable comedy to Valley stages, tackling serious real world topics like entering your 30s and dealing with 401ks and giving them comedic spins that keep audiences laughing. The 30-year-old Paradise Valley resident just started sharing her stand-up with audiences this year, but she’s already established herself in the scene, performing in Flagstaff and at places such as Monkey Pants and Dos Gringos in Tempe and Chop and Wok in Scottsdale.

The comic, who works at a healthcare IT firm during the day, is competing in Stand Up Scottsdale‘s comedy showcase this Wednesday, November 11, at 7:30 p.m. Gallagher shared what inspires her sets and how she hopes to impact audiences, and you can hear her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

Like any girl, a guy I met brought me to Arizona. I went to ASU, played lacrosse and double-majored in psychology and marketing. While I was out here finishing my degree, I met an incredible guy who kept me out here.

I was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania — the greatest place on earth. Continue reading

Paul Sebastian Melendez: Founder of The Brand Smith Co., Graphic Designer

Paul Sebastian Melendez, photographed outside Sydney's Cafe & Market at Tempe Marketplace, whose graphic design he created with The Brand Smith Co., by Nicki Escudero

Paul Sebastian Melendez, photographed outside Sydney’s Café & Market at Tempe Marketplace, whose graphic design he created with The Brand Smith Co., by Nicki Escudero

Paul Sebastian Melendez
www.thebrandsmithco.com

Paul Sebastian Melendez is passionate about working with businesses to help them craft the perfect brand, which he helps them share with the masses through expert graphic design, web development, photography, printing, vehicle wraps and more. As founder of The Brand Smith Co., Melendez works with dozens of enterprises around the country to execute effective brand strategy, forming long-term relationships with those he works with so they always stay at top of mind in their fields. You can see his work at Sydney’s Café & Market at Tempe Marketplace and on dozens of food trucks in the Valley, and his clients include Barrett-JacksonBODI gym in Scottsdale, Superstition Springs Lexus, and Rockford Fosgate.

The 29-year-old Mesa resident shared what drives his entrepreneurial spirit and what he hopes to achieve with his clients. You can hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born in the small town of North Adams in the beautiful Berkshires of western Massachusetts and moved to Arizona when I was 18, shortly after graduating high school. At the time, I wanted to broaden my horizons and go on an adventure, so I randomly picked a design school in Tempe called Collins College, where I got my Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic design. Continue reading