When you think of Atwater you probably don’t think of the big Hip-Hop scene, but there is one place that has been keeping it alive in the small town North of Merced. When you walk in the first thing you see is graffiti art and portraits of your favorite Hip-Hop artists on the wall, they’ve put on Hip-Hop events giving local talent a chance to be heard as well as hosting legends like Mystik-Journeymen. The room breathes Hip-Hop all over and is a relief to see the true art-form and culture alive in the Valley. If you’re cruising in that area of the 99 make sure and stop by to see for yourself.
We asked Levi Ortega, owner and operator of Hellafornia Clothing and Urban Illustrators to tell us a little about the business and his experiences:“Back in 2007, recently laid off from a local lumber yard, I picked up a single color screen-printing machine with a dream of putting my own ideas on shirts. I always been able to draw so I thought it would be dope to see people actually wearing something I did. I didn’t know one thing about screen-printing and after researching and multiple failed attempts we finally got the hang of it. I opened up the shop here in Atwater in April 2008, called Urban Illustrators. By that time I had come up with the term “hellafornia” which was sellin like hotcakes to the homies outta the garage. We all know people down south don’t say hella and neither do most
Americans, but I feel it now kinda represents Central California which really has never had anything to grasp onto or be recognized for in the urban culture aspect and that is what I believe helps us stay thriving in this rough economy and the area we are at. It’s just something new to the area which is being done in bigger cities all around us but not in this area. We have now been in business 4 years and running, offering custom screen-printing, all types of graphic design, banners, business cards, murals, vehicle decals, you name it, I’m sure we can put your logo on it. Our customer base for Urban Ill is stronger than ever and it just keeps growing every day. I believe it’s the designs that keeps them coming back. As far as Hellafornia goes, we have major plans for it in the next few months, just tryna keep it movin and stay relevant! Check out http://hellaforniaclothing.com and spread the word! Thanks for the opportunity.”