For decades, Austin has been the ultimate destination for artists yearning to create, explorers craving adventure and seekers looking for more. From performance art and fine art to music and more, the city is filled with visionaries from all around that have, over time, sculpted the wonderfully weird Austin we live in today. What began as the mere capital of Texas has, over the years, blossomed into a creative hub where artist can showcase their unique talents. But one of the awesome eccentricities that makes Austin so beautiful and appealing is its one-of-a-kind street art scene. Its vibrant influences can be seen scattered along the city streets, across storefronts and around every corner, turning the city into a giant canvas of mixed media. And at the forefront of this street art movement is talented local artist Lucas Aoki. Surreal, whimsical and mesmerizing, Lucas Aoki’s art has made an undeniable impact on the city.
Raised in Argentina, Lucas is one of those creatives who was born with art in his blood. Though art was not his original pursuit, Lucas eventually found his way to Austin, where he exploded onto the art scene virtually overnight . In 2010, with the support of his spouse, Lucas began to experiment with his art through sketches and canvas paintings, where he eventually sold his first canvas painting to Austin Art Garage. Using artistic influences from film makers like Tim Burton along with artists Shaun Tan and Hayao Miyazaki, Lucas developed his own unique painting style. Within each piece are influences of South American art, children’s illustrations and other animations. Humble, reverent and forever striving for perfection, Lucas uses both his past experiences and his future aspirations as inspiration. Aoki believes art is all about “connecting with ourselves”, and his passion and creativity are reflected in every brush stroke.
Shortly after his art career began, Lucas decided to try his hand at large-scale art. He painted his first mural at the famous HOPE Outdoor Gallery Graffiti Park. A collaboration with fellow artist Mike (Truth) Johnston brought Lucas to the historic Pine Street Station, where together they held their first group show. Soon, other local artists such as Bricks, Tres (Mns), Jason Eatherly, Mouf and Cask began to “Create art for the sake of art” and, following the vision of Heath’s (Mouf) formed the core of SprATX, a local outlet that fosters and supports local artists by showcasing their works.
In order to raise awareness for their art, Aoki began working with local vendors to sell T-shirts and other art memorabilia. Lucas credits local pop-ups to his initial success in the Austin art scene.
The start of Aoki’s mural projects was not an easy task. It began with artists going door-to-door and business to business to find potential prospects for their growing murals. But his talent and the talent of his artistic cohorts had already made a lasting impression in Austin, and soon they were among the most sought-after artists in the city. “At first, it was painting for the sake of painting,” says Lucas of his murals. Now, Aoki and his artistic cohorts make up the foundation of the urban art scene we all know and love.
Though not formally trained, Lucas enjoys challenging himself with each piece; pulling inspiration from other artists and playing with bright colors, bold textures and character storytelling. “Sometimes it starts with a simple drawing or a sketch”. But every work that Lucas creates is a part of his artistic development, becoming more and more complex with each painting. Indeed, there is a sense of wonder and curiosity within each of Aoki’s paintings, which he attributes to his own self exploration both artistically and spiritually. His fantastical, dreamlike images and larger-than-life creatures are a culmination of his love of fantasy and whimsy and sense of adventure.
Today, Lucas is commissioned for murals and paintings all over the city, including old buildings, inside businesses and even personal residences. Most recently, Aoki was asked to help paint a tiny house in Austin, which he completed with the help of venerated artists Sloke and Mike Johnston. You can recognize Aoki’s visually-striking murals scattered along e. Cesar Chavez, splashing the city walls with interesting patterns and intriguing characters. You can also own your very own Aoki canvas piece from the eclectic Austin Art Garage – if you’ve got a couple grand to spare that is…
But the creative exploration doesn’t stop there. Continually challenging himself and eager to learn new techniques, Lucas’s next venture will be into the world of three dimensional art and installations. So we can look forward to even more artistic brilliance to come. Aoki is an artist who will never stop creating and will never stop searching for more, which is what makes him such an asset to the art world. So whatever his next project is, you can be sure it will be even bigger and more breathtaking than ever.