Following the aftermath of Japan's devastating Tsunami, luxury brands and fashion insiders were among the first to join the ongoing philanthropic effort. While we appreciate such efforts, we often overlook the heartfelt charity that oftentimes originates in our own backyard. So when we heard about the efforts of one local artist, we simply had to learn more.
Up-and-coming Los Angeles artist, Jess Sluder -- whose work has become a favorite among the Venice Beach community -- has recently taken his creativity to the next level. Japan Project, Sluder's latest endeavor, is a collection of t-shirts designed to raise both awareness and financial aide to those impacted by Japan's Tsunami.
Designed after the highly recognizable "I Heart NY" campaign, each shirt is priced at only $20. But here's the really cool part: 100 percent of the proceeds from shirt sales are donated to the Red Cross and Worldwide Disaster Relief Fund. While Sluder says he is open to the idea of bringing his shirts to store shelves, currently they can only be purchased on www.JessSluder.com.
It was his fascination for the human race combined with the encouragement from friends, family -- and a very supportive girlfriend -- which led Sluder to embrace his creativity and ultimately land what had once been but a mere childhood dream.
"I am attracted to all humans, find inspiration in everyone I meet, and believe everyone is put here for a reason and that everyone has a talent," says Sluder.
"I like listening to people and I find much of my inspiration in the characters and ideas of friends and strangers alike."
Rather than returning to normalcy after what happened to be the largest natural disaster on record, Sluder allowed the gravity of the situation to guide him.
"Just as a doctor may have donated his lifesaving skills, a neighbor may have donated their home to the stranded, as an artist, I donated an image I thought could bring awareness to the situation," he adds.
Whether designed by a luxury label or an independent artist, Sluder believes that fashion has an uncanny ability to advertise and support a statement.
"Just as each country is represented by a flag, a person can represent themselves with something as simple as a t-shirt."