Artist Spotlight: AJA Louden

Photo by Barry Boroditsky

When AJA Louden was a child, drawing was something he did to keep entertained while his parents ran their small businesses. Then one day on a family drive, he noticed the same graffiti tag on a series of lampposts, leaving him with unanswered questions and a lasting impression. Today the needle artist spray paints portraits and murals to transform urban spaces into works of art. Meet AJA Louden…

How do you combat the stigma associated with graffiti and street art?
I designed and teach a workshop called Aerosol Academy to share with people of all ages, but especially youth, the long history and culture of graffiti. This includes stories about some of the most famous artists in history, Michelangelo and Raphael, tagging their signatures on the walls of Nero’s villa in Rome, and the origin and propagation of the legendary “Kilroy Was Here” graffiti that appeared all over during WWII. That said, I think some elements of graffiti fundamentally clash with capitalism and ideas of ownership of shared spaces in particular, so I don’t personally expect the stigma to die out anytime soon.

One of your goals is to make cities more inspiring and engaging. How do you think street art does this?
Graffiti and street art can humanize cities and urban spaces… If the loudest (or only) messages in our shared spaces are commercial, I think we risk cheapening our shared experiences and degrading our relationships to one another.

Photo by Brendan Ryder

Where can readers view and/or purchase your work?
You can find my work on walls around the city and, generally, anywhere else I get a chance to visit. You can follow my work online—everything is @ajalouden—and can get in touch with me via my website.


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