A Toast to Possibilities

Words by: Amanda Qassar

Video by: Rebecca Nuvoletta

Photos by: Kristen Williams

It’s a Friday night in the Arrow Lounge at Uptown Tavern, and Arash alternates between shots of Maker’s Mark and sips of Yerba Mate. This is the launch party for Justified Hype, a project three years in the making.

Guests make merry, browsing the business plan and posing in front of the eight foot Justified Hype backdrop under the glow of visuals from Video Artist Rebecca Nuvoletta.

“The turnout is amazing! Everyone who is in this room is the inspiration for starting this project,” Arash tells the crowd.

“It’s been a blurry vision in the distance. As I work with more people, it becomes focused, actualized. Justified Hype is its members and their passions.”

In between his turns on the tables, DJ Navjeet Sarna retells part of JH’s origin story – an idea to make “high-end, bespoke t-shirts,” using new printing technology and featuring photography from talented community artists.

Later on, another idea emerged – what if there were a public online database for artists and craftspeople – promoting and lifting up creatives who might otherwise fly below the radar?

The ideas built upon each other until a September in 2017. Arash remembers spending three and half hours trying to explain the concept in his head to his first group of collaborators: The First Incubator.

“I just wanted to play with my friends and call it work,” Arash says humbly. His overall drive is to nurture a place for creatives to “make and share cool shit” – a platform that frees people to collaborate and tell each other their stories.

Imagine, for example, one member of a band is a member of the Collective; Justified Hype would cover and share that band’s creations. “As long as there’s a connection – an ecosystem to link back to – that’s the vision. There’s power there.”

I just wanted to play with my friends and call it work.

Rebecca lights up when asked about the incredible visuals she created for the night. After browsing the JH business plan for color-palette inspiration, she spent three solid workdays assembling the graphics that clearly captivate the crowd throughout the night. As she describes her process, she says, “I can float through space and time… ride a camera through these impossible angles and landscapes. I can do that in space and time that doesn’t exist. It’s very satisfying to me.”

“There’s a bunch of stuff I made that is too weird,” she confesses. “I didn’t know – is this a corporate launch or a party?”

Tonight, it’s definitely a party. Time will tell how justified the hype is (the joke of the night) and how far it will reach.

“This is only the beginning,” Arash promises. “We have big, huge plans for the future.

Let’s make cool shit together.”