Where The Art Is With Upendo

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LA is filled with culture and inspiration that is seen and felt throughout the city. In the Arts District, many can attest to coming across eye-catching works created by individuals—each with a story of their own. Among them is local artist, Upendo, who gave us a look into his creative world and showed us what art means to him.
"I do my best work when I collab with other artists. It’s so easy to get stuck in our own little bubbles."
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When did you first discover a passion for art and how has it affected you over the years?
I found the passion for art very young, like 7-8 years old. Art has been my everything and has completely shaped who I am.
How would you describe your style of creative work and what key themes play a major role?
I describe my style as freeform design—you know, like graphic poetry. The key themes to my LINEWORK is music. All vibe.
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Tell us about your design process and how you approach a new project.
It's always something different and that's what I really love about my process. But the constant standard is sketching. I have to put it down on paper.
What’s your favorite genre(s) of music and or artists you like to listen to when you’re in your workspace?
I would say Hip-Hop, Funk, Soul and Jazz. I really like heavy instrumental beats. Dilla, MadLib, Knxwledge, and Black Milk.
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Current song on repeat.
"Rear View" by Raphael Saadiq 
When you’re not creating, how do you prefer to spend your time?
I'm creating most of the time. But when I’m not, I like to read, bike ride, watch movies or docs, hang out somewhere with friends, dance and go to space.
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As an Angeleno, what do you love most about LA and how has the city inspired you?
I really love the diversity of the city—not just the people, but the culture too. Food, art, beaches, mountains, deserts, sunshine, we got it all!
Any favorite go-to spots?
Amazebowls! I’m addicted to that place.
What has been a significant highlight in your career thus far?
That's a great question! I would have to say going from full time 9-5 Art Director/Designer to independent artist in the past 3 years.
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Who are some of your biggest influences?
Some of my biggest influences are Raphael Saadiq, skateboard culture, Hip-Hop music, all my experiences traveling, and the internet.
Tell us about your personal style and how denim plays a role in your wardrobe.
 My personal style is classic, timeless, versatile, and sometimes utilitarian. Denim is the best ‘cause it looks even better when I get paint on it. 
What are your thoughts on our new Advanced Stretch Denim and Sunset Pocket Tee?
Both are super comfy, purposeful standards.
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In your opinion, how does adding original artwork to basic apparel transform the product?
Well that's just it, isn't it? Once you apply any kind of art to a basic piece it’s automatically transformed. A whole new thing, an art piece that you wear. 
How often do you team up with other artists and what has been one of your most memorable collaborative projects you’ve done this year?
I do my best to work when I collab with other artists. It’s so easy to get stuck in our own little bubbles. But the exchange of ideas and information between creatives is important. The most memorable this year is working with Raphael Saadiq for his new album project.
What’s next for Upendo?
Anything and everything that comes my way.
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Keep up with Upendo on Instagram: @upendo_
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