“Sometimes it’s in the fine print…”
“You have to read between the lines…”
You often hear these phrases used in a literary sense but in this case we are talking art.
Enter a young Aaron Golbeck who is busy living his dream of screaming down mountains on a plank of wood in Michigan while at the same time eyeballing bigger cities that offer mountains and a thriving art scene.
After a fair amount of research he points his snowboard and spray-paint can at Breckinridge, Colorado and begins monthly trips to Denver and other cities to meet artists.
Soon after getting up with a series of local artists at Festivals and Sunday paint jams he begins to develop the signature style that is AGPNT. A mix of realism and abstract street style with nods to Japan, the wild west, mother nature and most anything you can see from the window of a van as you drive around the U.S. A. The kind of style that looks different from 20 feet away, then changes the closer you get, often paying tribute to friends, mentors and places while presenting a bigger story. Aaron has no lack of stories and friends, after putting up paint and traveling through over 20 states in his van and trailer. He calls Denver home but truly lives on the walls of America. We were lucky to catch him at a pit stop while putting up a new Gundam in town and grilled him a bit on Audiobooks, Manga and the imagination tornado that is the last battle scene in the Ready Player One movie.
AGPNT on Art, Books, and Libraries
- What book as a kid influenced your imagination to pick up a crayon and begin making art?
I think as a kid that grew up in rural Michigan, I was already surrounded by mystical woods and huge lakes with an air of magic so my imagination always tended to drift more towards human feats and the people that pushed them. All the covers to the Xtreme Mysteries books by Laban Hills were pretty cool to a 10 year old kid and especially any book that was about the X-games was snatched up by me at my local Library. The X-games ones had really cool layouts and the occasional illustration that borrowed from street art. I was using those as jumping points to research the stuff I really wanted to start painting, which was a bit from both worlds. I was already set to move to Colorado to snowboard but the minute I came across a few pieces in Denver, including the giant Gorilla heads painted by Jolt, I knew it was the place I wanted to go to learn and live.
- What book are you currently reading that influences you in either a creative way or a professional way?
I tend to stay mobile these days, working out of my van and studio so I don’t have a lot of space for piles of books but lucky for me there are books on CD and audio streams like the Library’s Overdrive. I will listen to books as I drive between jobs or put it on the truck speakers while I do prep. Currently I burned through the The Art Of War by Sunzi as suggested by a friend, it has tons of things that apply to business and society today, I know RZA suggested everyone who was an artist read it so I can cross that off my list. I also regularly listen to Ready Player One and Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline, they just fit into the essence of the work I do when I am painting a giant Gundam. A really cool series and highly underrated movie.
- What do you think is the most important resource that Libraries provide to you as an artist?
Access for sure, but more in a browsing sort of way. The internet can be so precise, but you can browse the Graphic Novel section of the Central branch and find like 20 things to inspire you that you weren’t even thinking about, that you might have not even known existed.
But you can also do the same thing in the fiction section and just pull things with weird covers or interesting prefaces, next thing you know, you are reading a story that changes your thinking about something or someone. That is an invaluable resource…and it is free.
- What is your current/favorite/most-used branch of the Denver Public Library?
I think the Central Branch, partly due to location, partly due to its massive art book and graphic novel selection. It also has the feeling you want in a city Library, lots of people and lots of knowledge in one place. I travel to a lot of cities but all the big ones have a Central Library and they are always serving that same function.
- If you were offered a gigantic wall on the outside of a Library, what would your paint to display what a library means to you?
Wow, that would be cool….I think I would do a kid sitting cross-legged, book in lap, head down in a traditional style and then fill the entire rest of the wall with his ‘imagination’. Heavy on the background colors, tons of characters from both past and modern fiction swirling and a nod to my childhood with an X-game snowboarder maybe racing a character from Goosebumps. Just go big with the wall and make the imagination spread all the way to the edges…like a Library.
Ex Libris: Denver Artists is a series featuring local street artists, focusing on their connection to books and the importance of libraries to the artistic community. Series concept and interview by Sean Ryerson.