WESLACO, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A Weslaco man is the first artist from the Rio Grande Valley to collaborate with a collegiate licensing and branding agency for the ‘Arte Con Voz’ initiative.

Juan Jose Bali, 31, is a Rio Grande Valley native and the artist behind this year’s UTRGV Arte Con Voz design.

Bali graduated from STC in 2018 with his associate degree and plans on going back to school for his bachelor’s in graphic design from UTRGV.

This is the first time an artist from the Rio Grande Valley is selected to participate in the initiative.

“Being chosen is pretty cool, because you can start telling people about it, like the next artists that are in line,” Bali said. “It always gets better from here, you know, after me, these next artists are going to be coming up. I’m sure next year, they’re gonna have somebody else in the spotlight to do something like this, and it’ll be a little bit better.”

Bali emphasized that he is excited for new artists in the Valley to step into the spotlight now that he has broken the barrier.

In October of last year, Bali said he was contacted by CLC whose interest was peaked when they saw videos of his work on Instagram and Facebook.

The local artist collaborated with UTRGV to develop the “Arte con Voz” merchandise collection featuring Hispanic and Latino lifestyle artists in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. Bali was the sole artist for the design.

(Courtesy: UTRGV Athletics)

The University of Texas at Arlington, University of Texas at Dallas, University of Texas El Paso, University of Texas Permian Basin, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and University of Texas San Antonio will each have merchandise that pays homage to artistic contributions from the Hispanic and Latino community through customized designs produced by acclaimed Hispanic lifestyle artists, a release from UTRGV Athletics stated.

The design features the UTRGV logo sitting atop a heart and brain with the words “theory” and “logic.” Bali said his inspiration for the logo came from his sister, who is a student and mother.

Her story was one that he felt went hand in hand with UTRGV’s initiative to embrace the beauty of being a student-athlete and a creative.

The artist said the collaboration with UTRGV to create a t-shirt design helped him gain experience in promoting art. He said more artists in Rio Grande Valley need to hone their skills and learn to promote themselves to get bigger opportunities.

Bali aims to one day open a gallery in Weslaco. With Weslaco in the center of the Valley, he believes the city should be the heart of the art scene.

The local artist is currently working on a mural for Top Gym and an 8 by 8-foot paintings that he plans to sell for millions of dollars.