There’s a long history of beer and art intersecting in Roosevelt Row, the downtown Phoenix arts enclave that’s undergone significant change in recent years.
Before the developers moved in, locals hit bungalows that doubled as art galleries along Fifth Street south of Roosevelt Street during First Fridays, sometimes findings artists with a beer in one hand and a paintbrush in the other.
Now one of those artists, Yai Cecream, is a finalist in an art contest run by Pabst Blue Ribbon. She’s one of 20 artists whose designs are posted on the Pabst website, where people can vote for their favorite design.
The artist goes by Yai, but she entered the contest using the name Yahira Vila. “I randomly found the art contest online about two months ago,” she recalls. “It’s cool that they have different artists create designs that interpret their brand.”
She’s been making comic-influenced art for several years, so she brought that same style to her design. “I tried to portray the vibe of the brand, which is being chill American-style,” Vila says.
Some artists chose to run with a combination of red, white, and blue. Vila opted for a blue-and-white design that makes her whimsical big-eyed characters pop, and accentuates the cheerful feel of her work.
“I wanted to make a really chill and happy design that fits in with my overall style,” Vila says. “My work is basically cartoons for adults.”
It’s a style you can still find throughout the Valley, even though Vila moved about six months ago to Highland Park in L.A. “I still get back to Phoenix every month or so, and I still have plans to show my work there,” she says.
She’s done several murals around town, including Roosevelt Row. And she’s painted a whimsical design on the walls of Welcome Chicken + Donuts on East Buckeye Road. Her work also has been featured in the annual “Chaos Theory” exhibit at Legend City Studios.
Vila first drew her Pabst design on a napkin. Then she switched to a sketchpad, finally finessing it using an iPad drawing program. Now, she's eagerly awaiting news of whether she'll be taking home the blue ribbon.
Oddly enough, her favorite beer is Pacifico. But Vila says she’s perfectly cool with drinking Pabst. “Someone gave me a Pabst eight-pack a while back,” she recalls. “I drank it all."
Update: Pabst Blue Ribbon announced three winners on Wednesday, March 4. Yai Cecream came in second place and will receive a $3,500 cash prize. The top prize went to L.A. illustrator and ASU alumnus Zack Rosebrugh, who will receive a $10,000 cash prize and have his design featured on one million beer cans this fall. Adam Rosenbaum came in third and will receive a $1,500 cash prize.