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Laura Aitken

I am a writer and artist from Santa Cruz, California. My work is heavily influenced by politics and current events and often focuses on different forms of activism in regards to global issues, such as the housing crisis and climate change.

Past Exhibitions

  •  Jan 20-23, 2020- Royal College of Art WIP Show, White City Studios, London UK (Screen Prints on Paper and Canvas) 
  • Nov 7-10, 2019- Arlington House, London UK (CMYK Screen Print)
  •  May 3-10th, 2019- Tenderbooks, London UK (Screen Print/Audio/Video) 
  •  March 27th, 2019- Dyson Gallery, Royal College of Art, London, UK (Screen Print) 
  •  February 8th, 2018- Iron Triangle Brewing Company, Los Angeles, CA (CMYK Prints and Textile Prints) 
  • November 16th, 2017- Iron Triangle Brewing Company, Los Angeles, CA (CMYK Prints and Pen and Ink Drawings)
  •  October 11th, 2017-1015 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA (CMYK Screen Prints) 
  •  October 6th, 2017-Stripe Men, Santa Cruz, CA (CMYK Screen Prints) 
  •  July 28th, 2017-American Bookbinders Museum, San Francisco, CA (Screen Prints)
  • June 12th, 2016-UCSC Final Show and Print Sale, Santa Cruz, CA (Screen Prints)
  •  November 6th, 2015-Berdels Apparel, Santa Cruz, CA (Drawing Series)
  • June 10th, 2015-UCSC Final Show and Print Sale, Santa Cruz, CA (Screen Prints)


Published Art

  • Content Free-2020: One of my short writing pieces and an accompanying screen print will be featured in the next edition of Content Free.
  •  Gross Magazine: Relish-2017: Five of my CMYK screen prints were featured in the debut edition of Relish magazine.  
  •  Alpha Omega Alpha: The Pharos-2008-2018: I was employed as a quarterly illustrator for this medical magazine for ten years. 
  •  UCSC: City on a Hill Press-2016: I worked as a weekly illustrator for the university newspaper for one school quarter.    



Royal College of Art- September 2018 to July 2020

London, UK 

Master's Degree in Visual Communication


University of California Santa Cruz – October 2014 to June 2016 

Santa Cruz, CA 

Bachelor's Degree in Art 


University of Oregon – September 2011 to June 2013 

Eugene, OR 

Undergraduate Art Major



Degree Details

School of Communication


My practice is heavily focused on activist movements and social issues. Much of my work documents current events and protest movements and I create research projects designed to inform and inspire social and political change. My work primarily uses writing and experimental screen printing techniques to create imagery. 

In 2020, I will publish the novel Ghosts in the City of Angels which will explore the possibilities of combining these two mediums. The novel follows a group of housemates who are navigating a contentious legal and personal battle with their new landlord who is trying to manipulate and harass them into signing away their rights under California tenants’ rights laws. The book is meant to function as a compelling novel in the form and tradition of pulp fiction mystery while also serving as a tenants’ rights manifesto, wherein the reader can enjoy the story while simultaneously absorbing an understanding of the contentious legal history of rent control in Los Angeles and their rights as a renter in California. Although the legal information described in the novel is specific to California State Laws and history, I hope that this book will inspire a wider international audience to research and campaign for wider tenants’ rights in their own residences as well. 

The novel includes images screen printed with photochromic ink. These images only appear when placed under direct sunlight. This technique references the Californian heat that serves as the backdrop to the narrative and are reflective of the nostalgic ghostliness of rental houses, which house thousands of politically underrepresented tenants throughout the years, each one with their own story. 

Ghosts in the City of Angels-Part One

Ghosts in the City of Angels-Part One — The illustrations in Ghosts in the City of Angels are screen printed directly into the pages using photochromic ink, so they are revealed only when exposed to sunlight.

Ghosts in the City of Angels-Illustration — The novel is set in Los Angeles during summertime, so the characters are affected by the high temperatures and enduring sunlight. In reference to this, the images printed among the pages are screen printed using photochromic inks, which are invisible until exposed to sunlight.

Ghosts in the City of Angels-Illustration — The images are CMYK screen prints reminiscent of old photographs, which allude to the human history of the house described in the novel.

Ghosts in the City of Angels-Illustration — The images show the atmosphere of Los Angeles, where the story is set.

Ghosts in the City of Angels-Illustration — There are eight CMYK photographic illustrations screen printed by hand within the pages of part one.

compilation — The illustrations relate to the motif of ghostliness and anonymity prevalent in the book.

Ghosts in the City of Angels is a novel set in present day Los Angeles, which addresses the housing crisis and tenants' rights issues. It is reminiscent of pulp fiction novels in style and form, and serves as an entertaining story with the added purpose of inspiring reflection and conversation about tenants' rights.

A lack of adequate protections for renters coupled with low minimum wages has led to a global housing crisis that is leaving many people without shelter and basic necessities. This book looks to address these issues in a compelling fictional story in which the reader will absorb information about their basic rights as renters and learn about the process of legally challenging a corrupt landlord. I hope this book will inspire more awareness of renters' rights and compel the reader to work towards expanding on and protecting those rights.

This story addresses issues of underrepresentation and wealth disparity in a pulp fiction style noir mystery story with the theme of ghosts and anonymity. Set in the heat of Los Angeles, the book must be read in the sun in order for its accompanying images to be seen. Throughout the book, invisible CMYK images screen printed among the pages will appear only when exposed to UV light, a reference to the anonymity often experienced by underrepresented communities whose needs are often overlooked as they are caught in a cycle of poverty. The images are reminiscent of photographs in an album—an essence of humanity and anonymity among the pages of the book.


Digital print and Screen Print


13cm x 17cm

Here Am I — CMYK screen print

Here Am I-Detail One — John speaks about how change can be made through protest.

Here am I-Detail Two — John describes his experience with successful protest movements of the past.

Here Am I-Detail Three — John responded with hopefulness when I asked if he thought the Climate Movement could succeed.

I spent much of the last year researching the climate change movement, examining the perspectives of individual protestors. I began my research by interviewing 92 year old climate activist, John Lynes, to learn about his experiences with protest movements in the past, and his thoughts on the climate change issue of the present.
This CMYK silkscreen combines a photograph that I took of John being arrested at a climate protest with a small block of fire to represent the urgency of the movement for climate forward legislation. A transcript of John’s interview is screen printed beneath the image, which describes his thoughts on the potential for success from this movement, and the various challenges we must still overcome.


Screen Print


60cm x 91 cm

Climate Protest One

Climate Protest One

Climate Protest One

Portrait of John

Portrait of John

Climate Protest Two

Climate Protest Two

Climate Protest Two

Much of my practice revolves around experimentation with the CMYK silkscreen process. In this series, I used some of the photographs I took at climate change protests or of climate change activists that I knew and experimented with the manipulation of ink during and after the screen printing process.
With this series, I hope to document and interpret an historic time period that will have extensive political, ecological and social consequences for decades to come.


Screen Prints


40cm x 53cm each

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