Aref Alhajji is a photographer, creative director and influencer in the Mile High City. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia, Alhajji embarked on his journey to Denver in 2008. His passion to be an artist led him to pursue a major in photography with a minor in business at The Art Institute of Colorado. You can always find Alhajji with a camera in his hands when he explores the outdoors, hikes, travels and shops.

Alhajji has been a RAW Natural Born Artist since 2017 and has surrounded himself in a community he can truly prosper in. RAW is an international arts organization for artists by artists that helped foster his growth as a fashion photographer in the city, a passion he has had since he was little.

“Growing up and learning about photography, I became fond of the fashion editorial side of things. I remember I was obsessed with fashion magazines because of the colors, fashion and concepts that are chosen to create what I call art. Since then I knew photography was my true passion,” Alhajji explained.

We caught up with Alhajji to learn more about how his love of both fashion and photography fuel him.

Aref in red jacket

303 Magazine: How did you know from an early age photography was your passion?

Aref Alhajji: From an early age, I knew I would end up in the art field somehow. I have always considered myself an artist and a creative person at heart — and I choose the least ordinary way. I find fascination with the idea of photos in general and how you can freeze a moment in the past and still tell a story to capture those moments. Moreover, we all have different perspectives — when someone takes a photo they share theirs and how they see the world from their point of view. Growing up and learning about photography I became fond of the fashion editorial side of things. I remember I was obsessed with fashion magazines because of the colors, fashion, and concepts that are chosen to create what I call art. Since then I knew photography was my true passion.

303: How does the Mile High City inspire your works of art?

AA: In my opinion, you can find inspiration anywhere you go. However, the Mile High City is very inspiring with its breathtaking scenery.

303: How is your vision for style and design influenced your work?

AA: As you can see from my personal style I like to create something I can call my own. In order to stand out in a crowd, I love to think outside the box with my own ideas. Moreover, these same rules apply to my work which allows me to be original and creative.

303: Tell us how your diverse cultural background has contributed to your unique work.
AA: Every country has its own culture and tradition. It’s not only different from one country to another but also differs from one city to another in the same country. Moving somewhere almost completely opposite from the culture you are exposed to will definitely allow you to build a bridge to connect cultures. This ultimately shapes an extraordinary perspective and point of view which is how it all shows in my work — and how I think to create art.

Aref in hat and glasses

303: You have been a RAW artist since 2017. How has this organization molded and shaped you into the artist and creative director you are today?

AA: RAW provides a platform for independent artists to bring artists to the people, and people to artists. When you meet those people face to face and hear feedback it gives you confidence. Furthermore, when they buy your work it pushes you to do better for the coming projects. This has really helped me become the artist I am today.

303: How does RAW connect you with a community of other like-minded individuals?

AA: The selected artists receive an opportunity to showcase and sell their work at these events to a crowd of people and artists they probably would have never been exposed to. This is especially beneficial for networking with like-minded individuals. Also, through the online platform, they host online profiles exclusive to their RAW artists. This features artists’ profiles from around the world where they can connect with other RAW artists. The mission is to serve the creative community worldwide. They also provide opportunities for artists so they can be seen, heard and loved.

303: In one word, how would you describe your personal style?

AA: I would say “artsy” because I can express my personality through my sense of style.

303: What are some of your favorite brands to shop?

AA: Scotch & Soda, Neiman Marcus, Urban Outfitters, Zara, Topman and Express would be my favorites. I am also an ambassador for Express on social media.

Aref in white shirt

All photography by Aref Alhajji.