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José Argotty, born in San Juan de Pasto southern Colombia, is one of our talented illustrators.
He is the creator of our colorful print CO.7 Andes and of the beautiful design on each SYOU box. He describes himself as an atypical designer and after speaking with him we can certainly understand why. We wanted to get to know more about José and what's behind his art and he was more than willing to tell us about his journey with us and things that have influenced his art.
José has been a freelance designer for a decade. What sets José apart is definitely his wide range of interests. He's interested in culture, anthropology, music and many other things. The extraordinary thing is that he is active in all these. He often gives workshops to young people stimulating culture, he's the music manager of the band "Bambarabanda" and he has he's been part of many anthropologically interesting projects. A very all-round artist indeed. In the artisanal projects he has participated in he has worked together with many indigenous communities, such as Awá. One of his favourite projects was 'Orígenes', a project he found extremely interesting and stimulating. All of these influences can certainly be found in his work, take a look at his design and you will recognize his colourful and vivid signature.
His work with SYOU
As we shared on our blog entry 'Finding the Colombian Talents', in december 2013 we organized a competition for creatives in order to participate on our two-day Creative Talent Conference in Medellín. We released a video inviting all artists to join us on our adventure. One of José's friends saw the video and immediately thought of José. He was familiar with his work and thought this project might be interesting for José. After seeing the video for himself he send his portfolio and short after he got a callback from SYOU inviting him to the Creative Talent Conference. He was one of the 29 lucky ones that got selected!
It was a great adventure to attend to the Creative Talent Conference in Medellín. Since there are no direct flights from Pasto to Medellín, José had to travel 9 hours by bus to arrive to Cali. From Cali he took a plane to Medellín where he arrived very early in the morning. What followed was a two-day adventure filled with creativity, inspiration and new experiences. His design, the CO.7 Andes, was inspired by the many colors of Colombia's everyday life and his experience during the Creative Talent Conference. He feels very proud and thankful to be part of SYOU and our journey.
José told us that the favorite part of the conference was on the second day, where one of the speakers was talking about Colombia's current socio-economic situation and how that came to be. Many things were said about Colombia's centralisation and stigmatisation. He talked about how other cities other than Bogotá, Medellín, Cali and Baranquilla are simply under-represented and many times considered irrelevant. This appealed to José, since this is a battle he's been fighting his whole life. José has a strong opinion the subject, and his perspective is unbeatably worth telling, as he does through his art. During the conference he met many people and as usual most people were from Bogotá, Medellín or Cali. This is certainly not an exception in Argotty's life and that experience has been of great influence in his life; being from Pasto has made a huge difference in his artistic life. In Colombia there is a huge stigma on Pasto and its people, a surprising fact to outsiders, since it has such great diversity, traditions and culture. Argotty knows a lot about his city's history and he told us that Pasto's stigma can be traced back to a long time ago. People from Pasto are many times disregarded and not taken seriously, this is something that Argotty is trying to change. He has made his background his strongest point, and it is inevitably and organically part of everything he does. His background sets him apart and has shaped his work as an artist. Coming from Pasto Pasto gave him an edge and added a different color to his story; Pasto is very under-represented in the artistic scene in Colombia. José is proud to represent Pasto and his work shows a lot of pride, creativity and vision.
It was very inspiring to hear José speak, his intelligence, artistry and knowledge really stand out. After seeing his work and listening to the intention behind it is clear to see we are dealing with an artist with integrity, principles and a cause.We are certainly looking forward to his next creations! Thank you José!