Global impressionistic artist, computer whiz and co-creator of Atelier Brooklyn, Alan Aine shares his human experience as a vector for creation with MindMeet’s storyteller. His tools, ranging from paintbrushes, public walls and sketchbooks to Linux and laptops, amplify his talent for viscerally touching the world. His passionate search for authenticity reveals the unique beauty his eye captures in unexpected scenes—an ephemeral painting on a Brooklyn street, a fleeting face on a subway train, or symbols flashing across a screen.
AH: It is a rare capacity—to be both adept at both computer programming and art. It takes some balancing, doesn’t it? That’s a question we love to ask people at MindMeet: What does balance mean to you?
AA: My wife and Atelier Brooklyn partner, Raquel Díaz and I brought our artwork into my workplace—a one-month exhibition in the lobby. Somehow, I incorporated my passion for art into my passion for computers, and it’s working. I have a coworker who said, “I saw your Instagram feed and your wife and you were doing your art in the street.” It felt a little like he had my whole life on his computers. It can be a weird feeling when everyone knows everything about you.
AH: It makes you kind of vulnerable, doesn’t it?
AA: Well, I feel like I tell the truth. I suppose it’s who I am. And I guess that is part of vulnerability. Never hide who you are. Just express yourself as you are, without a façade.
AH: How do you define love?
AA: Love is undivided attention, compassion, appreciation for something or for someone. To love is to give up everything you have for whoever or whatever it is that you love to be bright or the best they can be. If you can be visceral with your actions, and if it’s true, then that’s love. Love is blue. Love is art. Love is my wife Raquel. There is, as Carl Jung writes about, a collective unconsciousness that we’re all tapped into, and love is when we are aware of it and our connection to each other.
AH: In the world of art, the word “beautiful” can be so subjective. How do you define beauty?
AA: If I look at a painting, or anything, and it evokes some sort of emotion, whether good or bad, I think that’s beauty. It could even be garbage or flowers flying in the street. Things capture your eye and make you feel something. It makes you sweat or cry, or maybe it makes you angry. As long as it’s changing your emotion and connecting you to it, that’s beauty.
AH: What inspires you to choose your subjects?
AA: In a moment, I can walk into a room and someone’s gaze inspires me. On the train, it happens all the time. I see someone, and I pull out my book and I start sketching them. Because I travel a lot and I observe a lot of people, I sense people’s auras and their energy levels. I can see their eyes and what their intentions are. So, I try to capture that. I try to follow my body’s emotions—if there’s pain I try and focus on the pain till it goes away. And I also look at the scenery. I often rush home in the middle of a party or something just to go paint, and then I’m painting for days. It flows through me. I’m a vector. That’s all I am.
AH: When are you happiest?
AA: I’m happiest every day I’m alive, but I do get a sense of bliss particularly when I’m painting. I get this rush of energy—bliss. And it feels like I know why I’m doing this; because this is the best thing ever. When I’m sad and then I start painting, I think, “Why didn’t I do this yesterday or the day before; I know it makes me feel good.”
AH: What makes you remember that—how good it makes you feel?
AA: Lately, it’s been my wife, Raquel. She’s so visceral and she can pull me out of any sadness. We just go out, we travel, have a drink, and then we have these brainstorming sessions. We get inspired by colors or a night out or a visit to a museum. It’s always something related to the external world and it kind of just develops into this manifestation of a new and beautiful art piece.
AH: It’s a good reminder of the power of human connection and how isolation can really work against us sometimes.
AA: Yes. I had a moment where I was unemployed for two years, and I was in a really bad state. I didn’t do art for a long time, but then it was such an exhilarating experience for me when I was able to sketch a person on the train. I didn’t recognize what it was that was giving me this happiness until I realized it was because I was sketching and painting again.
AH: You are very well known for your street art. How is that different from conventional art forms?
AA: My first official art exhibition was in Germany. The culture there is not the same as New York, so I was considered a bit of an oddity. But it was a great experience; people asked me a lot of questions, and I also got a chance to learn German and learn the culture. I also went to Poland and France and met a lot of other street artists. I actually met a famous street artist in France who I learnt a lot from. For example, he taught me to dress very nicely and paint during the daytime when everyone is walking so it looks normal. Then no one stops you. There have been many times when I would do paintings in the street, and the police would walk by and say, “Hey, good job!” Also, because I paint with a paintbrush, not with an aerosol can, it’s a different thing. People love to see an artist creating fine art with a paintbrush in the street.
AH: How do you nourish yourself?
AA: I like to breakdance. I like to run. I make art and I like computers. My mind is always jumping into something that’s nourishing me and giving me what I need to slide out in the world. Raquel once said, “When I came here, all I wanted was a place to live and a paint brush.” It’s so true! That’s all we need: somewhere to live and some way to create.
AH: If you could go back and visit your 5-year-old self, what piece of advice would you give him?
AA: Learn as many languages as you can.
AH: What does it mean to be wealthy?
AA: It’s the level of happiness you feel inside. If I die tomorrow and all I can have in the afterlife is my memories and my past, I would be so happy; I would die a happy man because I know I experienced everything to the fullest. Like the memory of the moment I met Raquel. I was painting a huge mural on the ground for days. I was sitting down, and I looked up and there was Raquel. Something about her just popped out: it was in her eyes and in the way she looked. I said to myself, “If she looks at me three times, I’m going to talk to her.” So, it happened—she looked at me three times…and here we are.
Alan Aine is a popular BedStuy figurative impressionistic artist and computer scientist. He began his art career at the age of twelve, but devoted himself to it full time in 2013. He taught himself how to paint and continues to learn about the creative process from his own perspective. Alan creates works of art by means of mixed mediums. Alan and his wife Raquel Díaz are the co-founders of Atelier Brooklyn.