Aja Trier's artistic fame started out pretty darn strong when the Van Gogh inspired stylized artist had her painting of The Eiffel Tower mistaken by an education blog... except they shared it as a Van Gogh painting! Truthfully, it's unlikely that Van Gogh ever even saw the now iconic Eiffel Tower because it was completed in 1889 and Van Gogh died in 1890, the majority of his final years living in the south of France. Ever since Trier realized she was on to something she has been working on an absolutely incredible "Starry Night" series featuring a variety of characters and animals.
Lately, Trier's project has focused predominantly on placing dogs in front of a Starry Night background of her own, sometimes experimenting with the classic color scheme, but always leaving us breathless with admiration of her incredible work. You can purchase her work directly from her Etsy Shop.
Aja works on a thick, oil canvas, and is quick to make sure people know she does not use photoshop to enhance her art pieces:
I have had people ask if these are photoshop or some sort of image changing program - nope! It's all me. When you commission me, you receive an original oil painting on canvas.
In 2003, Aja launched her business, "Sagittarius Gallery," when she officially became a full-time artist.
Prior to becoming an accomplished and well-known artist for her Starry Night series, Aja went to art college at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, MA with a concentration in painting.
In an interview with Bored Panda, Aja reflected on her experiences with Van Gogh's art growing up:
We had a lot of art books in the house when I was young, so I am sure the first time I saw a van Gogh was through them. The first time I saw one in person was on a college trip to NYC in 2001.
"The energy and flow of his works is what resonates with me," she said. "The thick strokes - I love being able to see the artist's fingerprint in the art through their mark making. You can almost follow with your eyes the movements their hand made."
[These paintings] take forever to dry. The only other challenge is people taking the work so seriously and legit freaking out on me for 'ripping off van Gogh.' It's hilarious to me, especially considering how this all came about. I think decades down the road, this will be a really funny social experiment from start to finish to recount. Maybe by then it will have come full circle and I can be an old woman who's self proclaimed moniker is '(not) Mama van Gogh' or something. I'd be alright with that.
If you're wondering, Aja has always been pretty consistent about her style of artwork, saying:
I have always painted in an impressionist manner, but did not think my work looked particularly like van Gogh's. Selling your work online, people tend to share and abbreviate what they are sharing for their audience. I had painted an Eiffel Tower piece I called "Seine" in 2011 that people started sharing on Pinterest with the caption "Eiffel Tower by van Gogh" and it spread like wild fire.
Aja does get inspiration from the people who commission her work, but she says it's also a "free flow" process, which makes sense:
Regarding the painting process – there does need to be a free flow to the work for it to be successful. Though I will seek out references, color choices, and a basic understanding of what it is you would like in terms of the final painting, please understand this is a wholly new artistic work and you are commissioning me to translate your vision – not read your mind.
When Aja realized that her Eiffel Tower piece had been mistaken for Van Gogh, she says she tried to resolve the confusion, but it wasn't easy:
One day I came across an French educational blog that had an article on Vincent van Gogh that was advertising a trip around Paris to see some van Gogh works and locations - and there my painting was. It was mind boggling. Especially since it's damn near impossible for van Gogh to have painted a finished Eiffel tower. He had moved to the south of France on February 20, 1888, well before the tower was completed. He never returned to Paris. The Tower wasn't completed until March 1, 1889. I'd told people this previously when they would insist van Gogh painted my painting - but when I saw this French educational site touting my painting as a van Gogh, it prompted me to start my van Gogh Never series of pieces, showcasing things van Gogh never saw.
One fan commented on her work:
She's got Van Gogh's sense of movement mastered, as well as how he would outline subjects in his works.
When trying to resolve the confusion didn't work out, Aja figured she may as well keep going with it, in an interview she said:
I wanted to see what people would actually believe van Gogh painted and reshare it as such. I never pretended to be van Gogh. I still don't think my work looks like van Gogh. The whole thing exploded out of what really was a joke. I even had a paint party studio not two miles away from me schedule a paint night with that painting and get into an email argument with me when I contacted them to let them know it wasn't a van Gogh, it was mine. 'Oh, so I guess you're van Gogh, huh?' was literally their retort. I've had people scoff and state "someone mistook it for van Gogh? I'll take things that never happened for 500, Alex." And that's fair - I don't think my almost neon hued, larger stroke, palette knife paintings look like van Gogh's, either. But it's what happened.
Another fan commented:
Stunning! I wish I could paint like this
At 37-years old, Aja has shared on her Instagram that she's working on her fitness journey in her down time.
In the About Section of her website, Aja's shares a little information about her life including her influences and tidbits about her 13-years old son, Andrew:
Aja's artistic influences include a wide range of artists past and present; from Susan Rothenberg and Cecily Brown to Audrey Kawasaki and Erik Jones, and of course, Vincent van Gogh. Working tirelessly from her home studio where she lives with her son Andrew, she is constantly striving to discover new avenues with which to convey her artistic vision.
It would be hard to imagine a world where art this intricate and wonderful wasn't successful, but it's worth noting that Aja has quite the following. Over 12,000 people follow her on Instagram and her Etsy shop has over 2,200 reviews!
Fans of her work have nothing but praises to sing, whether they chose to commission a unique piece of artwork or purchase a print or product from her Etsy shop.
Aja's work has been featured in publications such as My Modern Met, Huffington Post Arts, Business Insider, and Buzzfeed.
Comments flood in on her Instagram posts, "amazing!" It's not hard to see why.
While her artwork is not limited to dogs, the dogs are some of the best because they really pack in tons of personality.
The details of the dogs and the Van Gogh inspired backgrounds are undeniable.
"Black Standard Poodle Night, 12x12 inches oil on canvas. Original painting was a commission, but prints on paper, canvas, and framed canvas in rectangular and square profiles available, as well as totes, pillows, and iPhone cases available!"
Such incredible details in such incredible work is definitely something to appreciate.
While Aja is obviously inspired by Van Gogh, each piece of her work is incredibly unique, a detailed piece that took skill, time, and effort, and she's been no stranger to people trying to steal her intellectual property and perpetuate it as their own, or sell it as their own merchandise at least. On Facebook recently she addressed it, saying:
No joke - every day I have to send cease and desists to sites like Wish, eBay, Etsy, Alibaba, AliExpress, and Amazon because people right click saved my image and are selling them as prints, magnets, phone cases, and shirts. Every. Single. Day. I could be painting, but I spend an obscene amount of time policing my intellectual property. Why? Because this is my livlihood. It's not a hobby. This is my life.
Aja deserves all the credit she receives, she's an incredible artist.
Fine-tuning her skills over years, Aja is more than talented. She's incredible.
With such delightful subjects to paint as precious puppers, it's no surprise that she's not only a successful full-time artist, but becoming quite the Internet sensation. After all, there are few things the Internet loves more than art and dogs, so the combination is a double-edged sword of awesome.
We can only hope that there are many more years to come of Aja's awesome work, because there's no chance we could get sick of it. Not only that, but there's a clear market for her style.
If you could commission such an incredible piece of artwork of your dog by Aja, would you? You can learn more about commissioning your own piece at her website, here.
There's no chance you'd ever regret owning a piece of her work, it's just that good!
I think we will see nothing but continued success for Aja Trier and her Starry Night inspired work.