Sunday, July 1, 2012

Aaron Olson-Reiners - Painting

"Retreat," 2012, acrylic on paper, 20x28 inches
Aaron Olson-Reiners

Name: Aaron Olson-Reiners
City/State: St. Paul, MN
Website: profile:
Facebook page:
Twitter: @aolsonreiners

I studied drawing and painting at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. I graduated magna cum laude in 2004 with a BA in studio art and received St. Olaf’s Fifth-Year Art Apprenticeship residency for the 2004-2005 academic year. I live and work in St. Paul, MN with my wife Annie, our daughter Carmen, our beloved Nicaraguan mutt Lily, and a steady stream of public radio.

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?

I work with graphite, ink, and acrylic on paper. Working on paper is great because it allows me to start working immediately with very little preparation and is easy to store. 

I've returned to figurative imagery after working non-objectively for the past 3 years. I'm also using paint again after working exclusively with cut-paper in my previous body of work. I'm also using color now which is a pretty dramatic change. Most of my past work was monochromatic. Thematically, I'm bringing more of my personality and sense of humor into the work. I'm tired of trying to please the art-world. It's exhausting and unsustainable.

"150 Year Disappearing Act," 2012, acrylic on paper, 20x28 inches

What are your earliest memories of art?
I remember carrying around a Mead 5-Subject Notebook, felt-tipped pen, and Nintendo Power magazine. I'd constantly copy video game characters from magazines. I vividly remember copying an illustration of Mega Man from an article about the release of Mega Man 2. My parents have boxes and boxes of these early sketchbooks in their basement.
How did you decide to become an artist?
I've drawn since I was old enough to hold a pencil. It was the one of the first thing I realized I was good at. My parents always encouraged me to draw and my grandpa told me to always sign my work. When I was around 8 years old I discovered that some people got to draw everyday and get paid for it. I immediately knew that was what I wanted to do and decided I wanted to draw for Walt Disney or Warner Bros. While the specifics have changed, the I've always wanted to spend my life making art.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist? 

The best advice I've received came from Wendell Arneson. Wendell is a painter and was my mentor in college. He always prodded me to take risks, avoid old, predictable solutions, and explore unfamiliar territory in my work rather than settle for what is safe and reliable.

"In the Basement," 2012, acrylic on paper, 20x28 inches

Many artists struggle to find ways to sell their art.  How do you sell your work?  How do you market yourself?

I primarily market myself through my website: and my facebook page: I'm still figuring out how to generate more sales without detracting from time in the studio, advancing my work, and pursuing shows. I'm open to suggestions!

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy? 
If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?

Black Dog Cafe's Gallery (
Highpoint Center for Printmaking (
Minnesota Center for Book Arts (
Nina's Coffee Cafe Gallery (
Walker Art Center (

"Mood Swings," 2012, acrylic on paper, 20x28 inches

In addition to, where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise? 

"Inquiring Minds," 2012, acrylic on paper, 20x28 inches

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

1) Continue working with figurative imagery.
2) Exploring the role color can play in my work.
3) Work on a larger scale- I'm curious to see how my work would read two or three times larger.
4) Incorporate silk screen printing into my work
5) Find new exhibition opportunities. 

Aaron Olson-Reiners

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