Extra Vitamins is Julia Belamarich and Kyle Warfield, life partners whose interest in zine-making and playful graphic design morphed into a wearable-art business brimming with a combined sense of style and activism. Their trademark squiggles and rainbow hues poke fun at T-shirts emblazoned with commercial logos and translate into pure joy on the turning pages of their zines, encouraging viewers to access an inner sense of wonder. How do they help us find the child within? It’s not as simple as you think. Learn more from their joint answers to the 100CC questionnaire.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Extra Vitamins: We would have loved to collaborate with the designers of the Memphis Group. Their use of vivid and exotic patterns, bright colors and kitsch materials greatly influences our work. They also experimented in making a wide range of art and design objects, furniture and fabrics. We appreciate the breadth of their work and ways in which they pushed the styles of Bauhaus and pop art into their own new and experimental movement.
On a more contemporary note, we hope to someday collaborate with Animal Collective. They’re always on heavy rotation in our studio.
In the design world, we’re continually blown away by the progressive and strange work of David Rudnick. He is pushing the boundaries of communication (and legibility) and changing the way we think about “good” design. Outsiders Division has been a big fashion inspiration recently. Their work is a balance of playful, cute, cool, messy and highly creative.
Another artist and designer we’ve been following closely this year is Robert Beatty. His digital illustrations create nostalgic, dream-like, primitive-future feelings. We’re also in love with his asemic explorations.
The “hipster minimalist” design trend is boring and oversaturating Denver. Too many brands right now are using generic sans-serif and monoline script fonts, X-shaped logos and chunky geometric icons. These brands have a lack of expression and tend to all feel the same. This trend can be seen in streetwear fashion, too.
There are too many clothing brands merely slapping their logo on a blank hat or T-shirt and putting a ridiculous price on it. It seems lazy and egotistical. More expression and originality, please.
What's your day job?
We spend most days splitting our time between client design work and self-initiated projects. We are currently working out of our retail space at OkHi Co.
We’d love to work on larger projects that could impact more people. Building an experimental playground is a dream project. Playgrounds have so much creative potential, and thinking through all the interactive possibilities would be a fun challenge. We’d put money into creating more DIY and live/work spaces for artists and designers. Also, we’d work on creating ways to generate more resources and awareness for social-justice issues. After that, we’d probably put it towards travel, our families, endless art supplies and ice cream.
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
Both. We love the people, the relationships and the new opportunities. Our community here is highly creative, supportive and continually inspiring us. We don’t love the new development — it’s increasingly hard to afford living here, and there is not a proportional amount of opportunity for local artists and designers. We also wish that Denver’s design community was more critical and progressive.
Denver undervalues the role that artists play in creating culture and keeping Colorado weird and relevant. Artists are incredibly important to a city, and Denver needs to put more funding into DIY spaces, affordable housing, arts education and cultural programming.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Truly too many names to mention here. We’re consistently inspired by the artists working and showing at Leisure and Dateline, and the former residents of Rhinoceropolis — especially Coleman Mummery, a visionary artist and musician who is unafraid to be weird and reminds us not to get too serious, even while remaining critical. We’re also endlessly impressed by the output of photographer Luca Venter, who blurs the line between art and design.
Our year is filling up quickly with a variety of exciting projects! We’re happy to report that our Magical Mystery Pop-Up is shifting into a semi-permanent shop inside OkHi, so we’ll be regularly releasing new art and clothing. We’re also developing the branding for OkHi and collaborating with them on new home goods.
We’re expecting to exhibit at one of our favorite local galleries, Leisure, and at a few art-book fairs across the country. We’ll be producing new zines, including some collaborative ones featuring local artists. We’ve got more client design work for local businesses both established and up-and-coming. Additionally, we’ll continue to fight fascism with more socially conscious art and design projects.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
We hope our friend Zak Rose gets more attention for his strange and sometimes hilarious collage work. He’s showing at Dateline through April 29 with Kyle Seis, and we highly recommend checking it out. Emilie Luckett and her embroidery also stands out to us, and we’re pretty sure she’ll get noticed in no time.
Extra Vitamins art products are currently available at OkHi, 3151 Larimer Street in RiNo. Learn more about Julia Belamarich and Kyle Warfield and their company online.