If you’ve spent any time in Colorado, you’ve most likely seen Abram Aleo’s work. Born and raised on the Front Range, the talented artist has made his mark all over with his imaginative and playful murals, including the Aggie Theater in Fort Collins. Abram says while he enjoys seeing people interact with his work publicly, the true essence of his work is found in the undeveloped drawings in his sketchbook: the heart of where all his ideas and creativity are developed into the bigger ideas that eventually come to life in his larger pieces.
Any hidden talents?
I design clothing and do branding for a local company, Threyda. Also can juggle 5 balls, climb 5.12, and eat way too spicy food.
3 things you can’t work without?
Always changing but right now it’s – coffee, spliff, Korean food.
Best advice you’ve received?
One should use common words to say uncommon things.
How did you get started as an artist?
Growing up, my mom briefly dated a working artist who moved in and shared a bathroom/paint sink with me in the basement. She went out of her way to collect originals, so having a home filled with paintings gave me an appreciation for the artifact of an original painting. Fast forward to high school, I built a working studio in the garage. I experimented with multi-layered hand-cut stencils and graffiti. It wasn’t until college that I truly picked up a brush and started moving on from those early experiments.
Do you prefer to work indoors or outdoors?
Painting outdoors is really fun and chaotic. The smells, noises, and sunlight/moonlight all act as collaborators in the process. Working in the studio is comfortable and focused. I think it’s more important to enter a flow state, which can happen at the places or times least expected.
How do you like to describe your style?
I describe my work as imaginative, playful, and bold. I’m very curious by nature and that influences all of the different creative processes I experiment with. Although I have many digital tools at my disposal, I feel the true essence of my work is found in the undeveloped drawings in my sketchbook. In the last few years especially, I have moved toward those raw sketches guiding my larger works.
What are your artistic weapons of choice?
I am a huge fan of drawing with a bic pen, the tonal ranges and lack of an eraser make it irresistible to me.
Where do you seek vision from when beginning a new piece? Walk us through your process a bit.
I usually start without any thought in mind, like an exhale. I allow my hand to rhythmically dance on the page until I find something recognizable while keeping in mind perspective, composition, and anatomy.
You have done murals all over Colorado and beyond- what do you enjoy most about getting to see your art all over different communities?
Murals instinctively become a landmark, a portal into another dimension. I enjoy seeing people interact with my work after it’s done and I’m hanging back, unrecognized as the artist.
You have done a lot of large scale pieces, what’s the largest piece you’ve done to date?
My largest canvas was 78” wide and my largest mural was at the Aggie Theater in Fort Collins which was over 150 feet long!
You’ve done quite a few collaborations, what are the best parts about working with other artists versus some of the challenges?
Collaborating is a special ceremony of creation, it’s a blessing to share that space with someone else. I focus on making the image as amazing as possible. I think it can be hard not to over-work a collab, I try to keep the balance with each artist’s style.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
Way too many to list so here are some contemporary artists: James Jean, Peter Morbacher, Smithe, Telmo Miel, Totemical, Hera (Herakut), Greg Skimmins (Crayola), Lauren ys, Android Jones, and many many more.
Any upcoming projects we can look out for?
I have a duo show with my close friend John Speaker in April of 2024. It’s both our largest show to date with all new original work. Most of my energy is going into my newest series that will be on display next Spring.