Rock, AZ Jared Yazzie started out his college career with
the intent of becoming an engineer. In fact, he received several
scholarships to help him along the way at the University of Arizona.
After two-and-a-half years of working toward his degree, Yazzie,
24, made a drastic change: he switched his major to graphic design.
In the fall of 2009 Yazzie started designing his own T-shirts.
"I was just doing my own design work," Yazzie said.
That is when he developed the brand OxDx for his designs. It
stands for "Overdose." He said the name came from how
he sees the world because everyone is overdosing themselves with
"I always thought of a T-shirt as billboarding," Yazzie
said. "I just want a way to interact with people, and I think
T-shirts are the most interactive tool. I call it a walking billboard."
Yazzie was doing a lot of design work but he didn't get the
idea of selling his T-shirts until his friends started offering
him money for them.
"They paid me 25 bucks," he said, "and I designed
sold his first shirt design to 25 people, whom he calls his "dream
team." The design on his first shirt was of a Navajo child's
head with a distorted dream bubble floating above him and a bandana
that says "dreamer."
"After that I had enough money to come up with my next
design," Yazzie said.
He left UA and moved to Phoenix in 2010 where he continued to
design his shirts.
"Everything is either hand-drawn by me or graphically altered
by me. I do all the graphics for my stuff," Yazzie said. Each
of his T-shirts is either screen-printed or hand-painted.
Yazzie learned the screen-printing process in his brother's
garage from a friend in 2011. When he first started, his designs
would be sent out to screen shops and professionally printed, but
does the printing himself today.
He would sell his shirts at flea markets, youth conferences,
art shows and fairs. He continued marketing his product in this
manner until he turned OxDx into a real business in 2012 and developed
his OxDx online clothing line.
"Everything before that I was just selling on the rez,"
he said. "It's something I care about and it was just growing."
Yazzie said he has over 20 T-shirt designs "out there that
are just floating around." Each of his shirts is a limited
"Everything I do has a message and I want people to think.
I have some pretty strong messages," Yazzie said, noting his
shirts have been known to start conversations. "It's a way
for Natives to be fashionable and make a statement while doing it."
Yazzie said the designs he produces are some really fun stuff,
but he also likes to touch on Native American issues.
"It's nice to have a design that meshes well with what
everyone is wearing, but it's a Navajo design," Yazzie said
as he described one of his shirts called the "Music Tee."
This design depicts a traditional Navajo woman in full attire
with a pair of headphones on. Within the headphones is the Navajo
wedding basket design.
"I try to do my best to get everything accurate,"
he said, "which is really hard."
Another design by Yazzie is called "Not A Trend."
He said he produced this design in reaction to media representations
of Native Americans.
He said it seems that it's becoming more and more common for
people to dress up like Indians for fun, using as an example the
headdress-wearing model from a recent Victoria's Secret fashion
"It's just kind of crazy," Yazzie said. "It's
like racism that's going on today and it shouldn't be. Nobody understands
it from a Native perspective and I was trying to bring that to light."
As a way to do that he developed the hashtag "Not A Trend"
so people can use it on Twitter and Instagram when they want to
make a statement.
Yazzie said now that his clothing line is developed and his
designs are becoming more popular his shirts have taken on fashion
"I've never seen a T-shirt brand do that. I love that I'm
getting respect on a fashion level," Yazzie said.
He's even being invited to fashion shows - most recently at
Arizona State University, and next in South Dakota at the end of
Yazzie said his shirt "Native Americans Discovered Columbus"
has shown up on the CNN and Rolling Stone magazine Web sites. On
CNN his shirt was worn by a model for a story about the "Beyond
Buckskin" fashion blog, and Rolling Stone showed his shirt
on artist Nahko from Medicine for the People during a performance
in Seattle, Wash.
Alongside his online clothing line Yazzie works for Express
Screen Printing in Phoenix. He is also a student at Mesa Community
College where he hopes to complete his degree in graphic design.
He is originally from Holbrook, Ariz. and his parents are Kee and
Shirley Yazzie. He is Ashiihi born for Todich'ii'nii.
For more information visit: www.oxdx.storenvy.com.