When Aaron Christensen creates artwork for kids’ rooms, he is always mindful of the future. “When I am asked whether I make art for kids or adults, I say ‘yes,’” he laughs. “I try to create artwork that will last, like a racecar theme or superhero, that can be put in a living room or hallway when the kids grow up and it becomes part of the family.” Aaron answered a few questions about his work for us recently:
OD: What’s hanging on your walls?
AC: In my home, I’m like the cobbler whose family goes barefoot—a lot of what’s in my house is art I got at home décor stores. But in my studio, I have all sorts of things that inspire me: 3-dimensional props and antiques, old signs, bulletin boards of color ideas and storyboards for rooms, magazine clippings, and fabric.
OD: Sounds like a lot of creating goes on in that studio.
AC: Sometimes I lock myself in, get inspired, and stay up until four in the morning and realize I never went to bed.
OD: You mentioned old signs. A lot of your work contains road signs. What made you start incorporating those in your art?
AC: When I use signs, they’re usually incorporated into the nine-piece art. What I am doing when I create those collections is thinking of it as an overall theme without bringing in too many expected elements. A speedometer, for example. That’s not usually the subject of art—just a speedometer. But by changing colors, manipulating it, cropping it, it becomes an ingredient to art. So it’s a way to develop the theme of car racing by taking something very literal and using it as a graphic object.
OD: What advice would you give the you of ten years ago?
AC: Dream bigger. I was really focused on local art, local shows, local work. It wasn’t until I started licensing my work that I realized there was more out there—commercial markets, art markets. I would have started that earlier if I wasn’t so distracted by what was going on locally. But now that I am more global and more national, it’s almost full circle. I wouldn’t mind doing more local art shows and exhibitions here in Portland.
OD: Is there anything that stifles your creativity?
AC: Shiny objects. I’m easily distracted.