As the summer melts into fall in Buenos Aires, the design culture in the so-called Paris of South America is just heating up. Declared the first City of Design by UNESCO for “its capacity to inspire others” (others include Berlin and Montreal), Buenos Aires has the most design students in the world, with 35,000 design students at the Universidad de Buenos Aires alone. With such a huge pool of talent to pull from, Texas native and world-wanderer Grant C. Dull — pronounced “Duel” — has concocted a platform for local artists to work with global clients on a fresh and inspirational scale, a creative image and sound agency called FeatBA.
Photo by FeatBA photgrapher Marc van der Aa
Grant, 33, has been abroad for the past decade and was first drawn to Buenos Aires in 1999 because of his love for author Jorge Luis Borges and musician Astor Piazzola. In 2004, he started What’s Up Buenos Aires (WUBA), a cultural guide similar to Flavorpill. In 2008, he launched ZZK Records to “put Buenos Aires on the map of urban music.” Late in 2008, hungry for a new project, he decided to launch a creative agency.
“FeatBA is the result of 5 years of work with the local culture,” Grant explains. “It seemed a natural progression to put Buenos Aires on the map of global design.” The meaning behind the creative agency’s name is twofold: “an extraordinary feat of artists all under one roof” and “featuring artists from Buenos Aires.” Since launching in August 2009, it has become an alternative culture, unifying music, graphic art, design and photography.
Now, 11 years later, the “Ambassador of Argentinean culture,” as Argentina’s Director of Creative Industries refers to Grant, has given back to the city that gave him so much inspiration. Undimmed by familiarity throughout his constant travels, he works to deconstruct preconceived notions, working towards conscious paradigm shifts in thought and culture through art. As an American working in Argentina, Grant is able to work on dual levels of communication, managing local artists and executing projects with an international business sensibility. In other words, the self-described “intense hustler,” is– punctual. It’s clear the entrepreneur has his finger on the pulse in Buenos Aires, and in fact, he might be its most vibrant beat.
A blend of music and artistic backgrounds on FeatBA brings Argentina’s creative presence to its apex. With 22 artists on the label — graphic designers, illustrators, video artists, promoters, club owners, journalists, interns — it’s one big committed familia. Below check out some of our favorite discoveries from the FeatBA stable.
Sol del Rio: Her latest show “Ojos de leopardo,” features a series of geometric paintings and sculptures including a painting of a blue leopard. Each tuft of fur and detail on the leopard is a micro painting, inspired by haikus. The radiant young artist digitally recreated each micro scene and toyed with the projected images to mirror each other and fade in and out along with her boyfriend, ZZK artist, Villa Diamante‘s music.
Nicolas Barraza: A pensive dark-haired Argentine, Barraza runs Mite galería, an underground venture he started in 2008, which was recently featured in Nylon. Nicolas began working with Grant when ZZK started in 2008, and is now one of the most prolific artists on the FeatBA label. “There are a lot of boring jobs out there,” he says, “But I have so much fun and liberty working with FeatBA. It doesn’t feel like work. I’m just hanging out with my friends and creating art. It’s ideal. There’s no set structure in our commune.”
Job Salorio: An autodidact graphic designer, Salorio runs Purr libros, a small book design shop in the plaza with his girlfriend Marina, a photographer and poet. Job has been one of ZZK’s head graphic designers for three years and now works both independently and for FeatBA. When asked when he knew he wanted to be a professional artist, the elegantly modest Salorio responded, “I still don’t know if I am an artist.”
Freshcore : The artist behind the cool graphic illustration of the Argentina Soccer Crest for this summer’s World Cup.
Gaulicho: An artist who began painting graffiti in 1998, drawing upon influences such as folk art, religious icons, comic graphics, ’60s psychedelia, and his own urban heritage.