Aaron Brooks interview


Written by Samuel Stratton

No matter what industry we’re discussing, it’s a general consensus that it’s the fans and the consumers that make the scene in question what it is. But what about the artists and musicians themselves; the people who make these events so lively in the first place? Today we sit with Aaron Brooks to learn and talk about the modern artist in the music festival industry. Brooks’ art can be found in a multitude of musical and artistic media.

Appalachian Jamwich: What made you decide to become an artist?

Aaron Brooks: I’ve always been into drawing, not necessarily painting, but drawing was such a big part of growing up for me. I never thought it would be a career but it was always something I enjoyed. I went to Full Sail University for recording arts and I was really passionate about it. My roommate was taking art classes there for video game design and I always found myself wanting to help with his homework more than mine, and I thought to myself “Man, I’m doing the wrong thing”. Coming to terms with how much I enjoyed it, I just redirected my aim.

Who are your biggest inspirations?

There are different people I look up to for different reasons. As far as expressing one style many different ways, I absolutely love Ross Steadman. Because you know it’s his work when you see it, it’s so recognizable but so different every time he did something. It was so impressive. Diving into more artwork as I realized what I wanted to do I became a fan of Chris Dyer because of his work ethic and color usage, things I realized I wanted to improve on what these guys had nailed down. But it’s more than that. It comes from musicians, friends and stuff like that. I enjoy a lot of different stuff, but I’m really only inspired by the guys who have worked really hard to get to where they are today.

The ones who’ve been grinding from the start. They know nothing other than that, a second nature hustle that they don’t even need to think about anymore, marketing themselves and being professional while not being a snob.

Any particular bands or people that really got you into the scene?

Yeah actually a buddy of mine, his name is Zack Szabo, owner of Essential Productions. He got me my first gig in Kentucky at the Madison Theater performing alongside Keller Williams and Zoogma. Keller was a lot of fun to paint next to and he’s one of the inspirations I can talk about. He has so much fun on stage and I feel the same when I’m live painting at a show. Scramble Campbell was actually one of the first live artists I knew about. He was the house painter for Red Rocks in Colorado. I sent him an email before social media popularized telling him I’d like to do that one day. He actually got back to me with some guidelines for what to do and what not to do.

Is there anything specific to get the creative juices flowing?

I’m a huge advocate of all forms of THC. It helps me with things like getting on stage, even if it’s a small crowd. I still get nervous sometimes, I don’t know if that goes away or not. It’s a huge part of who I am and taking a puff can help ease my nerves. The Cannabis industry actually really helped me get my foot in the door. The first time I ever vended was at the first 710 Cup in Denver. I was teaming up with a lot of glass artists at the time because glass is a huge passion of mine. It’s what I collect. That became a huge help in the end. Like 90% of my work 2-3 years ago were cannabis inspired. Aiming towards that demographic seriously helped with my exposure, those guys hit the social media scene really hard.

They really hit the nail on the head so to speak.

Haha yeah a lot of where I am now can be accredited to the rising cannabis industry and the people in it.

Being one of the biggest names in the pin game, what’s your opinion on the pin industry?

The pinning industry is booming more now than ever. I was lucky enough to be on the cornerstone of when that was really starting to blow up too. I honestly made one out of the interest of just wanting to make one. I thought they were just really cool. Its exciting man, some of these kids are really able to make a living out of it. They’re able to give back to their scene while giving them more opportunities to get more involved, and that’s exciting to me. I’ve even raised the number on limited editions as the fan bases grow, going from 100 to 250 with some designs. It’s definitely an honor.

What were some hardships of becoming an artist?

Finding my style was a project in itself. It was something I would try to force, and that doesn’t work. At the beginning I was asked to do renditions of a lot of cartoons and whatnot. And I loved it, but when you’re doing so many renditions of other people’s artwork you start to drift away from your own style. After I addressed the fact, I was really able to hone in on what made me stand out from the rest. Some of these bigger painters were really able to push me to see how deep and detailed I could really go. Collaboration is a big part of it all. You’re not trying to teach other but you’re there to affect the others style. It’s almost like a natural co-evolution between you and other artists.

Well Brooks, thank you for taking the time to share a bit about yourself, we’ll see more of you this summer.