Meet the artist behind the official Kentucky Derby poster

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — His works will forever be part of Kentucky Derby history.

For Aimee Griffith, the journey from rookie artist to famous watercolorist happened almost as fast as the fastest 2 minutes in sport.

What do you want to know

  • Artist Aimee Griffith has been selected to create the official poster for the 148th Kentucky Derby
  • Griffith is from Bardstown, Kentucky.
  • The watercolourist also designed this year’s Oaks poster
  • Signed prints of the official poster are available for purchase

As surprising as it may seem, Griffith has only been painting for six years and this past winter she had the opportunity of a lifetime to design and paint the art for the official Kentucky Derby poster.

“I specifically remember doing the horses already and not the background and I just remember…five minutes, everything happened,” Griffith recalled.

While Griffith may be new to the art scene, she says the desire to create art has always been with her.

“I’ve always loved art,” Griffith told Spectrum News 1.

She certainly had a knack for it, even without a traditional background in painting. The popularity of her watercolors quickly grew with family and friends, which led her to sell prints of her work online.

Churchill Downs contacted Griffith out of the blue last winter and asked him to submit samples of his work. Ultimately, she was selected to create the iconic Kentucky Derby poster.

His rendition depicts the home stretch, horses side by side in what would certainly be a photo-finish. Griffith’s scene feels authentically “Derby”, while using unconventional equine colors.

“They always want to try and see if they can do something a little more unique, so I tried to be playful with colors and just try to go with different colors, like blues, purples and greens.”

Official Kentucky Derby poster (Spectrum News 1/Jonathon Gregg)

Griffith completed the poster art last summer, but his work wasn’t done because every artist commissioned to design the Derby poster is also designing the Oaks artwork.

“I wanted to do something that showcased the fashion but also the excitement of the horses as they prepare to go out on the track,” says Griffith. “I feel like the Paddock scene is always about pageantry and anticipation of the race ahead, so I wanted it to be almost like you’re a people watcher…” Griffith continues.

And now, since Griffith’s work will be permanently archived among all the Derby posters, we’ll enjoy his art for years to come.

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