Biography: Yumi aka Yumgsta was born and brought up on the snowy volcanic island in the far north of Japan, Hokkaido, home to the Ainu indigenous people. Growing up in small country villages, she developed an affinity to the peace of the natural world which has stayed with her all her life. As the child of a family of teachers, she had a strict upbringing without much freedom to express herself, so she began early to dream of pursuing her ambitions overseas.
She won a place on a design course and moved to the UK to begin her studies. Exposure to the rich urban culture of London fed her interest further. Upon graduating from Lambeth College, Yumi embarked on a career as a digital designer. Her digital animations won several nominations and advertising industry awards.
With simple, bold vectors, Yumi applied her skills to use in creating the artwork for “Dear Dilla” by the late Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest. This was a standout moment for her, because it enabled her to connect her art with hip hop. Her designs began to attract attention from hip hop lovers worldwide. Her digital portraits of hip hop stars attracted thousands of shares and downloads, and were bootlegged in products on eBay.
In response to the bootlegs Yumi started producing t-shirts and canvas portraits of her own. It was the first step of her streetwear design career. Her premium, locally hand printed t-shirt series featuring her original manga-style illustrations remain the most popular items in her collections. Most sell out in a single season.
Yumi created the 4649 brand as the hallmark of her streetwear design work, which over several years has grown into a much fuller expression of her singular sensibility. Yumi’s exploration of urban culture has reached an fascinating new juncture as the 4649 collections have grown to encompass hoodies and jumpers, jackets, bags, shawls and headgear, as well as the classic shirts.
Featured: Mad Decent (blog), Metal Lungies (blog) and a few other hiphop blogs
4649 streetwear brand – 3rd Rail Clothing (interview), Mayamada (interview about ‘Creativity’), VisionBombing (interview about HipHop influence)
Clients: Amazon, Lego, Philips, Samsung, Sky, MTV, The Guardian