• Artist Editions: Josh Balick X UO

    Designed exclusively for Urban Outfitters, Artist Editions is an ongoing series of limited edition graphic t-shirts created by a rotating roster of artists from around the globe. 

    Raised in Wilmington, Delaware and influenced by the urban street culture of Philadelphia, Josh’s work is known to pay homage to past and present-day pop culture, punk rock ethos, and the youth culture at large. This personal exploration of influences and experiences ultimately inspired Josh to create his own company, Propaganda & Propaganda Accessories, that currently serves as an outlet to produce limited edition goods for the contemporary youth culture of today.
    Photos by Noah Sahady
    Words by Anthony Pappalardo  

    What is it that’s so seductive and powerful about punk rock logos?
    I naturally gravitated toward punk rock iconography. I think it goes back to the primal instinct of recognizing what tribe you feel most a part of and recognizing people in that community. My favorite logo of all time is the Black Flag bars. Stewart Dean Embersole said it best, “Black Flag’s iconic logo became punk rock’s secret handshake.” My other favorites are The Misfits’ skull, Minor Threat’s black sheep, and Bad Brains’ capitol with the lightning bolt.They were impactful the first time I saw them. To me these symbols communicate unrest, chaos, and rebellion—they freak people out.

    Every few years, some fashion writer tries to declare that graphic tees are dead or whatever.Why have they endured through so many trends since their inception?
    The list of what there is to do with t-shirt design is endless, and there are so many different people to reach through that particular medium. Whether it’s designing them, printing them, or selling them, I want to learn it all, and understand it, and apply it. I’m just at the beginning, and I feel that there is still so much to do and a lot to learn. I think that the reason the t-shirt has remained so constant in pop culture and fashion is because of its wearability. No matter your shape, size, or age, you can rock it. T-shirts
    also serve as an affordable option for designers to use as a blank canvas for their art, making it easy to create something for the sake of creating it.

    What’s the greatest t-shirt design ever?
    The “My Rules” middle finger tee by Black Flag, drawn by Raymond Pettibon.

    What makes a t-shirt stand out?
    I guess it should communicate: it shares a mutual idea,and connects with people in the appropriate cultural ways. What is its distinct contribution? What makes it unique? Does it stand the test of time? I’ve also noticed people tend to like shirts that invoke conversation—if you can make people laugh you get bonus points. Each person quantifies this differently. However, truly perfect designs will last a lifetime. You’ll keep it in your clothing rotation for years, and even when it doesn’t fit anymore, you’ll save it for the memories it brought you.

    How did you land on the designs you made for this project?
    The “Wave Sliding Club” tee was influenced by The North Shore, one of my favorite movies I watched growing up. It’s an old ‘80s surf flick inspired by a Hawaiian surf gang called Da Hui. Often, their emblem included the phrase “Hui O He’e Nalu,” which translates to “the wave sliding club.” The yin-yang symbolizes the shape and harmony a surfer has in relationship to a breaking wave.

    The “Believe” tee has a glitched-out alien on the front and the phrase “Damned if you do, bored if you don’t” on the back. It was inspired by one of my favorite cartoon characters, Dale from King of The Hill—he’s an exterminator, bounty hunter, smoker, gun fanatic, and paranoid believer in almost all conspiracy theories and urban legends. The phrase is meant to imply the choice of living your life feeling like an outsider, or have fun living in your own reality. 

    What are some design trends that you wish would end in 2016 and conversely, what’s something you’d like to see make a comeback?
    Tucked in t-shirts. Just kidding, nothing really that I can think of right now. Every trend is a building block that contributes to that which came before it. I may not wear it, but as a designer, I respect the trends and observe them. I like to figure out how I can reverse engineer them in order to build products for the long-term based off of the short term hype. Ultimately, trends speak for themselves, good or bad.

    Shop Artist Editions 
    Head to UO’s Space 15 Twenty at 1520 N. Cahuenga Blvd in Los Angeles, CA on February 25th to celebrate the launch of UO Journal issue 2 and the second release of our ongoing Artist Editions series.