LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Her artwork will forever be a part of Kentucky Derby history.

For Aimee Griffith, the journey from beginner artist to celebrated watercolorist happened almost as quickly as the fastest 2 minutes in sports. 

What You Need To Know

  • Artist Aimee Griffith was selected to create the official poster art for the 148th Kentucky Derby

  • Griffith is from Bardstown, Kentucky

  • The watercolorist also designed this year’s Oaks poster

  • Signed prints of the official poster are available to purchase

Surprising as it sounds, Griffith has only been painting for six years and last winter she received the opportunity of a lifetime, to design and paint the official Kentucky Derby poster art.

“I remember specifically having already done the horses and not the background and I just remember… five minutes it kind of all came in,” Griffith recalls.

While Griffith maybe a relative newcomer 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 traditional schooling in painting. Popularity among her water colorings grew quickly among family and friends, which led her to selling prints of her work online.

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

Her 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 the colors and just try and go with different colors, like blues and purples and greens.”

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

Griffith completed the poster art last summer, but her work wasn’t finished because each artist commissioned to design the Derby poster also designs the Oaks artwork.

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

And now, since Griffith’s work will be archived permanently among all Derby posters, we will appreciate her art for years to come.