Jared Yazzie, a Diné artist and activist, is the founder of OXDX, a streetwear company that brings awareness to Native American issues and he has been creating this art from Tempe since 2009.
“OXDX has become my life work and grown to a point of influence within the community. I feel I have a responsibility to show correct representation of Native people and to shed light on indigneous issues,” Yazzie said.
OXDX began when Yazzie was in college when he would “draw designs instead of taking notes and take to the streets with spray cans to display (his) ideas.”
College was a turning point for Yazzie. He said that he thought he would be in a math or science-related career, taking advanced math courses throughout high school.
In high school, Yazzie applied for “many engineering-based scholarships” for college, but he lost most of them when he changed his major to graphic arts.
“My family has always been very math-oriented. My mother is a math teacher at the high school, my father is a civil engineer for ADOT, my brother works in construction, and my other brother became a mechanical engineer for NASA,” Yazzie said. “Naturally, I believed my path would be in math and science.”
“My original major going into the University of Arizona was for engineering but I planned to take an architecture route to become a drafter,” Yazzie said.
“Jared is a guy from a small town, had a vision and is now running with it. He has a huge following and has mass respect and support from the Native American community. It’s impressive seeing what he’s done with OXDX and where he’s going to take it,” said Josh Lerma, videographer from Holbrook.
Another turning point in college for Yazzie was social awareness.
“There are a ton of differences and racism that occured that I never processed until I was in college,” Yazzie said about growing up on a border town to the Navajo reservation.
“Most of my childhood friends were white, and I was involved in all the advance study classes where I would be the only native person,” Yazzie said. “I found my perspective and thoughts on Native people became something I had to actively voice in these spaces because there was little representation.”
Yazzie also is an advocate of unity.
“Growing older I naturally gained mostly native friends, we all joked the same, had similar pasts, and knew the same people. There was a sense of family and strength in culture,” Yazzie said. “I have an urge to seek that now that I live further from home.”
One reason OXDX stands out is the representation it provides for Native Americans.
“I’ve found Native people to misrepresented in today’s society. There is nothing out there that represents me or even looks like me,” Yazzie said. “I can see the atrocities happening on and off the reservation that need voices to make others aware.”
One of OXDX’s popular designs, the Native Americans Discovered Columbus design, brought in the company’s current technical designer.
“I was living in Chicago, thinking about moving to Phoenix so I was always trying to look into arts, markets and events taking place in the area. I distinctly remember finding a re-post of his ‘Native Americans Discovered Columbus’ design from a market page on Instagram, and I started following OXDX from then on,” said Allie Stone, OXDX technical designer.
“I thought his work was making such strong and important statements,” Stone said.
When OXDX started Yazzie said he was making hand-painted tees that were in high demand, he then started making bulk designs that would sell out in days.
“One sold out design led to the next, which led to the next, and the next, and soon I was creating lines each year. I’m currently on my tenth year of designing and fourth year in making scheduled releases,” Yazzie said.
“A person’s body is as good as any public wall or billboard to express your views. I’ve been a fashion lover for years and tapped into this uncharted territory with ease,” Yazzie said.
Being trusted to portray Yazzie’s art is amazing and has a ripple effect, it brings back joy and positivity, Alyssia Sanchez, model and fashion creative from Albuquerque, New Mexico, said.
“My work has become an ongoing effort to normalize Native features and issues to the general public as to show we are still present and in need of equality,” Yazzie said.
“I believe that OXDX’s drive to make not only amazing print work, but also a voice for Indigenous nations for the daily problems they face (makes OXDX special),” Kiara Jones, a model from Glendale, Ariz., said.
According to Jones, OXDX “makes statements with their designs to spread awareness for #NODAPL, (#MMIW), police brutality, and the misrepresentation of our nations.”
What’s next for OXDX? To keep growing.
“I hope my work can be seen by companies and enterprises that will soon create opportunities for me to collaborate,” Yazzie said. “I can only do so much myself but with the help of more established businesses I would like to push my art onto other mediums and products.”
“Jared is very focused, driven and forward-thinking. When he wants to make something happen, he finds a way. That’s the best part about being on his team, our dreams are only getting bigger and we’re always moving up,” Stone said.
Jones has worked with Yazzie for five years and says “it’s been an amazing opportunity to work with him and see (OXDX) grow over the years.”
OXDX tries to work with as many Indigenous creatives as possible, Jones said.
“My favorite moment working with OXDX is being able to represent not only their designs but the amazing people they hire on,” Jones said. “”OXDX tries to work with as many Indignous make-up artists, photographers, jewelry makers, music artists and models as they can, to really show how beautiful our art and people are.”
Yazzie says his identity as a Diné person has shaped who he is, “has shaped (him) to someone that speaks out for my people.”
“Native people have strong opinions on changes and progression. This is perfectly understandable due to our history with the American government and what colonizing has done to our communities and culture,” Yazzie said. “The world is changing and we need to progress and adapt if we want to survive.”
“I find push-back when creating new ideas and am met with strong criticism. We tear each other down when what we need now is unity,” Yazzie said.
According to Sanchez, the communication between creatives has allowed her to work with OXDX.
“Jared listened to my vision and how I wanted to be represented. He pieced together a specific look for how I felt and envisioned confidence,” Sanchez said.
Working with other Indigenous people is something Yazzie strives for.
“Ideally, I want to create a space for myself that is welcoming to young and eager artists where I can have the resources for the future generations to learn and grow in art and business,” Yazzie said.
“The youth needs to embrace every part of themselves, whether you are full native, mixed, part, gay, educated or not, language speaking or not, and just have pride,” Yazzie said.
Stone sees “the impact OXDX has on its community, especially the younger generations, and it’s inspiring.”
“I will always support and believe in this brand,” Stone said.
OXDX is different, Sanchez said.
“OXDX is different in feel, (it) gives me edge and fierceness with a story of the Indigenous population,” Sanchez said.
According to Yazzie, Native Americans “need to be loud and lean away from the years of bad thoughts society has ingrained in us. (Society’s) goal is to divide and conquer, we are not conquered yet so the only answer to survival is to come together.”
“Be truthful, know your faults, change for the better, and have faith in people,” Yazzie said.