• Artist Editions: YAIA 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. 

    Based in Rosario Argentina, YAIA is the personal motto and moniker of Julio César Battistelli. YAIA creates hard-edged graphics with incredible amounts of detailing by blending punk rock and metal iconography with a colorful pencil style. We chatted with YAIA about his process and to find out about the inspiration behind his Artist Editions designs. 
    Photos by pØny Whitenoise 

    Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? 
    My Name is Julio Cesar Battistelli, 33 years old and for the last 21 years I have been living in Rosario, Santa Fe in Argentina, but I was born in a small town in the countryside called Alvarez. I moved to the city when I was 12 because of my mom’s job and grew up there. When I was 18, I started study Graphic Design at the State School of Visual Arts, then I got a university degree in Graphic Design and Visual Communication from the National University of Rosario. I worked in a couple of places until I decided to do something more rewarding with the degree.

    What’s your earliest memory of creating art? 
    I was obsessed with John Deere tractors and the robot manga, Mazinger Z. I think those are the first things I ever drew, but I’m not sure that’s art.

    How is life in Rosario? What is the art scene like there? 
    The weather sucks! Argentina has a strong heritage of great artists.  The contemporary art scene is strong but I’m not really close to that scene. Maybe because I don’t live in a major city or maybe because people here don’t really agree that the work I make for t-shirts can be considered art, who knows…

    How has the city influenced your work? 
    The city frustrated me like all cities tend to frustrate to teenagers. The lack of peers and scene for what I wanted to do made me look for that in other places. The internet changed the distances forever, I guess the indifference to where I lived was a key ingredient to my art.

    What does a normal day look like for you? 
    I sit in front of the computer all day waiting for the million dollar email, like everybody else.

    A lot of your designs are created with pencil. What do you like about working in that particular medium? 
    Because it’s the hardest one. Also, if it looks good on pencil there is no reason to cover that with ink, but sometimes the style of the piece is crucial to what you are trying to tell, so my approach is more of a graphic design kind when it comes to mediums.  Most of the time, style is just there to allow you to resolve the needs of the piece and what you are trying to communicate. 

    What were your early influences on your work throughout your career? 
    Skate culture, punk, metal, horror movies, underground comic books. That’s the stuff that shaped me. Every time I draw, they escape again to the paper. Influences are really important when you draw. I remember trying to imitate my favorite artists and eventually mixing all those references from different fields: Charles Burns, Punk, Otomo, EC comics, Jim Phillips, Freshjive, Jack Kirby, Heavy Metal, Mark McKee, Todd McFarlane, Horror Movies, V.C. Johnson and many more. All of these influences get mixed in unknown ways and end up being something completely unique (for better or worse) that end up on paper every time I draw.

    Can you tell us about your artist editions designs? What inspired the work? 
    I have been drawing stuff that surrounds me as an exercise and those pieces come from that exploration. Both artworks are visual reference to things on my desk, the lighter its there in front of me every day, and the snake was a small part of a big illustration that I had on my mood board that I though it has potential on its own at a different scale.

    What makes a t-shirt design special? 
    Well it’s strange. If you think about it, a t-shirt graphic is conceived in the present, aiming, in many cases, for a future release.  The design should be fresh and appealing, but its inception is actually old. Fashion is actually a 1 or 2 year old statement.

    I think the trick is to have a graphic that on some level can overcome time by its style, theme or message. It’s not the ability to predict the future, but the capacity to stay relevant that makes a design special. 

    What are your favorite t-shirts of all time? 
    The ones I'm gonna do next.

    What’s next for you? 
    I have no idea... I would love to draw some Marvel comics covers though…

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