Julia Belamarich and Kyle Warfield, creators of the experimental streetwear brand Extra Vitamins, are packing up shop and moving to New York City later this month. Their reasons: Denver’s rising rent prices and the desire to have their work embraced by a larger artistic community.
“There’s more opportunity for art like ours,” says Belamarich.
The Denver artists, whose backgrounds are in zine-making, established Extra Vitamins in 2016; their work has been shown in galleries across town and even the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. The fashion they produce defies easy categorization: The designs are bright and playful, with squiggles and petroglyphs in place of text and logos.
In New York, there’s just “more interest in experimental art and design,” Belamarich explains. “It’s not as safe there.” Likewise, there’s a stronger community for zines and small-scale art-book pressings, which the artists hope to resume doing.
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Belamarich and Warfield feared that if they didn’t leave Denver on their own terms, they might be forced out of their RiNo studio by rising rent. Having seen DIY spaces shut down by the city without notice, they worried that even if they could afford to keep their studio, it could be at risk of sudden closure.
Warfield also notes that laws in New York protect freelance artists, including requiring that contracts be in place when payment exceeds $800, preventing employers from retaliating against freelancers trying to get paid, and requiring that payments to be processed within thirty days and more. The absence of such regulations in Denver made them even more anxious, the partners say.
While they're looking forward to the move, they’re grateful for their time in the Mile High City.
“Denver really got us off the ground,” Belamarich says. “The community has always been very supportive to us here. From breakfast burritos to gallery spaces...we’ll miss it all.”