Lady Aiko (also AIKO, born Aiko Nakagawa in 1975) is a Japanese street artist based in Brooklyn, New York. In the contemporary art world AIKO is among the most important female street artists from this millennium. In a largely male-dominated form of art, AIKO is becoming an influential figure in contemporary street art. “It’s hard being a girl and a graffiti artist”, she sighs, but continues to make bold artworks that rival Banksy. Known for her ability to combine western art movements and eastern technical artistic skills, she is highly respected for her large scaled work that have been installed in many cities all over the world including Rome, Italy, Shanghai, China and Brooklyn, New York.
Aiko's work is inspired by 18th-century Japanese woodblock printing and has been described as "joyfully, subversively feminine." Her solo artwork on canvas uses a bricolage technique, incorporating spray paint, stenciling, brushwork, collage, and serigraphs. She is inspired by New York neighborhoods and advertising, bringing imagery from Chinatown and Times Square in the form of old signs, billboards, and neon signs. Aiko is heavily inspired by her identity and experiences as a Japanese woman. Through her work she brings visibility and recognition to women and girls as well as gender inequality in grafifti and street art. Aiko enjoys creating art that is beautiful, full of love, and can be shared with anyone. Images related to romantic moments, kisses, and lover are the dominant theme in her work, with subjects always being about everyday life's sexy girls ,lovers, and the romantic stories. Another influence to her work is the process of making. For Aiko, it is the uncertainty and difficulties of large scale street art that make the work more interesting than art made in the studio.
Aiko Nakagawa was born in 1975 and raised in the central area of Tokyo. She attended an all-girl high school. While she was in college in Tokyo, she created a pirate television station that broadcast her own music videos and short films. The broadcast could be picked up within a three-kilometer radius and generated some local press coverage before the government sent her a letter ordering her to desist. In the mid-1990s, she moved to New York City where she apprenticed in artist Takashi Murakami's Brooklyn studio. Her and Muramaki's work are similar by their incorporation of Japanese culture, and have even worked with high-end fashion designer, Louis Vuitton. She studied media studies at the New School University and wheat pasted naked images of herself around the city.
Towards the end of the 1990s Aiko collaborated with artists Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller. The three formed the street art collective FAILE (then A-life) in 1998. Together the artists created "large format, monochromatic, screen-printed female nudes," among other work. They collective became very popular through this style which worked similarly across media from posters, to prints, to gallery works on canvas. In 2006, Lady Aiko left the collective.
In 2005 she collaborated with fellow street artist Banksy for his film Exit Through the Gift Shop.
Aiko's work was included in the Museum of Sex's erotic street art exhibition in 2012. Later that year she created the mural Here's Fun for Everyone on New York City's Bowery Wall. She was the first woman artist to be invited to paint the wall./
In 2013, she attended the international street art festival Nuart in Stavanger, Norway, alongside fellow female graffiti artists Martha Cooper and Faith 47. Working on two walls of a tunnel below the Tou Scene arts centre, she created a work with stenciled representations of silhouettes, women, angels, Mount Fuji, butterflies, flowers and a rabbit holding an aerosol paint can to represent female energy. The same year she designed a characteristic floral and feminine scarf for luxury brand Louis Vuitton alongside other street artists Retna and Os Gemeos
- 2015 EDO CITY GIRL at Ink_d Gallery - Brighton, UK
- 2015 LADY BUTTERFLY Limited Edition Sculpture/ Pink
- 2014 SWEETHEART at The Outsiders Gallery - Newcastle, UK
- 2014 AIKO's Bunny Party at Gallery Brooklyn - Brooklyn, NY
- 2014 AIOK x ISETAN Window Display Project - ISETAN Tokyo, Japan
- 2013 LADY BUTTERFLY Limited Edition/ Pearl White
- 2013 FOULARDS D'ARTISTES, AIKO x Louis Vuitton
- 2012 The Bowery Wall - NYC
- 2012 LADY BUTTERFLY Limited Edition Sculpture/ Cherry
- 2012 AFTER A LONG TIME Exhibition at Merry Karnowsky Gallery - LA
- 2011 UNSTOPPABLE WAVES LONDON Exhibition at PURE EVIL Gallery - London, UK
- 2011 UNSTOPPABLE WAVES Exhibition at Andenken Gallery - Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- 2011 LADY BUTTERFLY Limited Edition Sculpture/ Black and Silver
- 2010 HERE'S FUN FOR EVERYONE Exhibition at Andrew James Art - Shanghai, China
- 2010 The Standard Stairwell Project at the Standard - NY and Holywood LA
- 2009 LOVE MONSTER Exhibition at Joshua Liner Gallery - Chealsea, NY
- 2008 SHUT UP and LOOK Exhibition at Brooklynite Gallery - Brooklyn, NY
- 2008 Aiko "Lady Kill" and "Vandarismo" print release with POW - London, England
- 2008 AIKO BUNNY - KID ROBOT Limited Edition Vinyl Figure