A visit with our friend + client Aima. - Lightsource

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A visit with our friend + client Aima.


Artist + Photographer

Our friend + client Aima has been working on some pretty amazing work projects. We had the opportunity to ask her a few questions about her process and her studio practice.

Who are you? What medium do you work with?

Hi, my art name is Aima. I am an artist, a photographer, creating a new art style – contemporary sacred art. I’m originally from Ukraine, currently based in San Francisco.

What is your process like and how does LightSource fit in?

The process includes many layers. The first step is photographing a model. In the appearance of this person, there should be something unusual. Their features are almost perfect, but some detail should attract the eyes like a magnet. The next step is a long process of retouching using Adobe programs. I concentrate on the eyes a lot: I change them dramatically by drawing a new picture from scratch above the photo. In this way, I achieve the effect of a parallel reality – feeling like you can meet this person on the street, but in a neighboring world. 

The next step is printing. It’s very important to choose the right print company because, in my process, colors and quality are everything. I work with LightSource San Francisco, and they do a really good job!

A very important piece: I add craft details with gold leaf, which brings the print to a totally new level. LightSource allows me to do it in their office, so I can move the prints as little as possible. I am very grateful for this opportunity and they are happy with gold flying everywhere, so it’s a win-win. It’s beautiful!

What do you hope that your art communicates?

What is contemporary sacred art, you would ask? My inspiration comes from iconic pictures not only from the Slavic churches I grew up around but also ancient images from temples of different cultures. 

Thousands of years ago there was so much life, so much heart and inspiration in that kind of art. Each detail fulfilled a purpose, served a feeling, posed or answered a question. I want to bring all this back to the contemporary galleries and museums, but using modern language and techniques instead. 

At the moment I am working on a series, called Fur and Bones with portraits and abstract works, that you can see on my website

Can you talk a bit about your art community that you organize each week? What inspired you to start it?

Be Art SF is a community that is uniting artists from San Francisco to support each other, share their knowledge, collaborate and make dreams come true. It was created by 3 people: me and two of my friends, Anastasia and Elena. 

At first, we just wanted to use my amazing studio space, because it’s way too dreamy not to share it. But after I realized that in order to thrive, grow and evolve, a person needs friends and like-minded people as a source of happiness potential. The same as creating something truly important or big, you can’t do it by yourself. “You alone must do it, but you can’t do it alone.”

A career as an artist is really a huge life project if you will, and it’s a much more enjoyable journey with talented people around. I want this place to be a nest for support, inspiration and sharing knowledge. To multiply our power by following our dreams. 

So now it’s a big community with a studio full of people every Tuesday that want to draw. In my dreams I want us to become a group of underground artists and a hub for high-quality art projects.

Instagram: @aimanoiono

Our Be art SF group: www.facebook.com/groups/298808657525146/

Photos 1 & 4 credit to Jason Martineau.