Aaron Lowell Denton

Initially, Aaron Lowell Denton wanted to be a farmer. Living in a rural part of Northern Indiana, he thought he would follow in the footsteps of his friends and neighbors. “It was a pretty common job path there. I liked the romanticized notion of that career,” he told me in an interview. When asked if he ever considered the possibility of farming later in life, he was reticent in his response, which is understandable given how in-demand his poster designs have become since quitting his restaurant job and going full-time freelance in 2018.­

Over the last few years, Denton’s gig posters have gained admiration for their vibrant, abstract designs and vintage feel. Though they are visually distinct from one another, there’s an overarching congruency about them as well. His artwork seems to reference things in the not-too-distant past, but what those things are is hard to access. You get the sense that he has spent time studying all the old masters of psychedelic posters, airbrush, and other art movements, absorbed the nuances of line, shape, and color from each, and figured out how to reflect that information in a way that is uniquely and wholly his own.

Slowdive poster
Slowdive poster by Aaron Lowell Denton, 2018

Despite having a consuming interest in the visual arts from a young age, it wasn’t until college that he was finally able to indulge those impulses. “I didn’t have much access to museums or anything growing up, so never really saw any real art until college,” Denton told Amadeus. He recalls going to Borders bookstore and gazing at the artist monographs in awe. At Indiana University, he studied English literature and art history, thinking that he might become a critic one day. I asked where his interest in art came from: “I’m not sure. No one else in my family was very interested in the arts. If I had to guess, it was probably an infatuation with the unknown, something outside of my little town.” 

This infatuation with the unknown is also what led him to play music. Having spent time in bands since he was a teen, Denton gets creative energy from those he plays with regularly. His wife, photographer Anna Powell Denton, is a source of inspiration to him as well. “It’s helpful to surround yourself with motivated, creative people,” he said. “It’s surprising how easily those traits can jump from person to person.”  

Devendra Banhart poster
Devendra Banhart poster by Aaron Lowell Denton, 2020

In addition to his wife, Anna Powell Denton, the Bloomington, Indiana-based artist and designer cites Donald Judd, Helen Frankenthaler, Bridget Riley, Konrad Klapheck, and Wassily Kandinsky as influences: “Kandinsky, especially, has been a guiding light, not only for his work but for his writing. I read Concerning the Spiritual in Art in college and think about the concepts in that book often. I was able to see Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future at the Guggenheim a few years ago, and that was very inspiring as well.”

After college, Denton began designing gig posters for bands, which came as a natural progression from being involved in the local music scene. As he explains it, “Through DIY touring and music-related projects, I began regularly working on design, laying out records, making show posters, etc. After a while of doing that locally, I began to get attention from outside my hometown.” 

Stereolab poster
Stereolab poster by Aaron Lowell Denton, 2020

Recently, Denton’s work as a visual artist has branched out into other areas, including album design, editorial illustrations, and logos. He says that the process for these kinds of jobs are a bit different: “Posters tend to be more casual commissions than, say, an album cover or editorial illustration. There are typically very little constraints creatively.” The more collaborative nature of working on an illustration for a magazine is something he enjoys as well, like two sides of the same coin. 

Denton describes the creative process of designing a poster as such: “I begin by researching the subject. If it’s a band, I listen to their music and try to feel what a poster for them should look like. Stylistically, it comes pretty quick. From there, I’ll do more design-centric research using a collection of art and design books in my studio. Typically, I end up gravitating to one idea and go from there. For a poster commission, I try to have everything pretty well buttoned up on the first draft—no pencil sketches or discussion.”  

To date, Aaron Lowell Denton has completed posters for Devendra Banhart, My Morning Jacket, Fleet Foxes, Slowdive, The Voidz, Leon Bridges, and many others. Having built an impressive client list in such a short amount of time, I ventured to ask what his vision of future success looks like. His reply: “Success is having people in your life you love and respect.” Out of all the answers he gave in our interview, this one is the most revealing. It is perhaps this grounded nature of his that has allowed other artists in the music industry to gravitate towards him so readily.

Tame Impala poster
Tame Impala poster by Aaron Lowell Denton, 2019
Future Islands poster
Future Islands poster by Aaron Lowell Denton, 2021
The Voidz poster
The Voidz poster by Aaron Lowell Denton, 2019
Alvvays poster
Alvvays poster by Aaron Lowell Denton, 2019