Graffiti Goodness


September 8, 2021

Words by: Sherri Delle

Art to Celebrate & Uplift

AJA– Adrian Joseph Alexander (pronounced ā-jay) 

graf·​fi·​ti | \ grə-ˈfē-(ˌ)tē– “to scratch into a surface” (Latin meaning, courtesy of AJA)

From the moment you set foot in Timbre, an industrial building that houses AJA and other local artists, you feel a generative energy. High ceilings, white paint, large windows, natural light, common shared spaces, stainless steel, the smell of wood, and of course – canvas and paint. AJA is a welcoming and humble host, his excitement and joy come from his ability to share his passion with others, to collaborate, and to educate.

If you take a sneak peek at his website, you get a sense of the span and scope of the work AJA has shared here in Alberta as well as globally, including murals in public places and schools, as well as those done in collaboration with youth, students, and other artists…all of which hold meaning, power and story. What you don’t get from the website is a sense of who he is and his depth as an individual, focused on the collective good. 

AJA’s passion for creating art started at a young age. “I’ve been making art since I was a tiny, tiny, child. Both of my parents worked and were entrepreneurs, so I had lots of free time—unstructured time that I spent drawing and being creative. Later in life I found graffiti, street art, and just hip-hop culture in general, and really found this a language and medium I connected to.”  Not only did AJA have a passion for art, he loved science too, later enrolling in Sciences at University, dabbling in this and that, and practicing graffiti to “figure things out and figure out where I wanted to fit into the world.” From here he entered the field of graphic design, “doing design work for a local foundry – learning about industrial design and how to build things with my hands.” His work has evolved from moonlighting as an artist while going to school, his years as a designer, to “doing commissioned pieces privately for individuals, as well as small businesses.” The Aerosol Academy, which started in 2011, was born from this extensive background of learning and creating, and his passion for working with youth. “It’s a framework for collaboration with groups, often groups of youth to teach about the history and culture of graffiti and street art and to connect those to the culture of public art.” 

Over the last year, AJA has created a 12-part video series intended to educate youth about this medium. He has begun to explore Art Technology and the possibilities of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality in his work. His latest endeavor, ‘Like Me’, includes portraits of local artists, one of which was in progress at the time of my visit to his studio. “I create art to uplift and celebrate people in a meaningful way – to make them feel seen and heard.”  In my books, there is no better purpose or gift than that.

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