December 15, 2015
A few weeks ago, Eighth Generation was featured in the LA Times list of "Gifts that will Change the World." That inspired me to curate my own gift guide based on the amazing people that supported or inspired me during my journey from an emerging Native artist who drew cultural art on shoes to becoming a leading arts entrepreneur. The main point here is that when you buy from one of the folks on this list, you can be assured that your dollars are sustaining an individual that will help nurture the next generation of emerging artists and arts entrepreneurs. Let's go!
(UNCLE) PETER GONGMy Uncle Pete (Squamish) is a carver based in Mission, B.C. He's always helping me with basic teachings about working with wood, sharpening my carving tools, and our family history. And if I think back far enough, I can remember getting the same kind of mentoring from him while fishing together in the Fraser River and its tributaries. While standing knee high in water, he'd always share little bits of useful information that helped shape my world view. Some of it, such as "always pack out more than you packed in", has never left me, and I try to apply that principle when making decisions that guide Eighth Generation's business activities.
Anyway, take a look at his awesome and truly imposing War Clubs carved from alder. And if they aren't cool enough for you, just get them packaged in one of his bent wood boxes. More pictures of his work are available on Instagram and you can contact him directly about getting some of these war clubs or bentwood boxes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I met Alano Edzerza during the 2010 Winter Olympics, when we were both featured artists at the Aboriginal Fashion Showcase. I had just fumbled my way through the process of producing my first shirt and my first art print at that time. Alano helped me out a great deal by sharing the story of his own business development and giving me some really practical advice about designing. Specifically, he told me with delicate words that I was drawing my eyes too small (and he was right)...and that the shapes of cars can be great inspiration for animal heads.
A Tahltan artist and entrepreneur based in Vancouver, BC, Alano's been steadily growing his business since 2007 - in 2009, he was named “30 & Under Entrepreneur of the Year”. Alano’s artwork adorns shirts, hoodies, leggings, skirts, and jewelry; the online shop also offers original artwork and prints.
Gift pick: Limited Edition Lapis Leggings - $79 CAD
BEYOND BUCKSKIN BOUTIQUE
Since I started putting cultural art on shoes in 2008, I've felt the impact of Jessica Metcalfe's (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) powerful voice in the national discourse around cultural appropriation and her trail-blazing work as an arts entrepreneur. Numerous times, she has included Eighth Generation in her projects, including her own holiday gift guides, which send an impressive amount of traffic to this website.
Visit the Beyond Buckskin online boutique to see artwork and products by artists from all over the country, including this heather-grey, adjustable cap by Sean Vosq (Luiseño).
Gift pick: Obsidian Arrowhead Snapback - $28
I've admired Bethany's Yellowtail's work from afar for a long, long time. So it's especially exciting for me to announce that we will be collaborating with her on a Special Edition wool blanket. Watch for it in May 2016! Bethany, who is Crow and Northern Cheyenne, graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and now resides in Los Angeles, where she founded the B.Yellowtail line one year ago. Her current “Holiday Capsule” collection boasts tops, skirts, dresses, and even a fringed cape, all based on gorgeous cultural designs. Hurry before it sells out!
Gift pick: Miss Crow Nation floral tunic - $170JONATHAN WAKUDA FISCHER Jonathan is the guy who got me started with aerosol art. Back in 2010, I asked him to customize one of the very first pairs of the Mockups Art Toy. He agreed, and I was so inspired by the spray paint stencil work that he applied to the toy that I asked him for a tutorial. Without that tutorial, projects like the Port Gamble S'Klallam Skate Park - which ended up in the 2015 World of Red Bull Commercial - would never have happened.
His “Japanese street art” combines Japanese traditional art with pop culture to explore complex identities. Raised in Wisconsin, Jonathan has shown his work in galleries all over the world - including our joint “Rebels of the Floating World” show at the ArtXchange Gallery in October and November of this year.
Gift pick: “Spring” Katagami Print - $25
MICHELLE LOWDENMichelle Lowden (Acoma Pueblo) was the very first Inspired Natives Project collaborator, and the beauty and popularity of her work has helped our company grow. I really appreciate the courage it took for her to sign on with a small grass roots company to participate in a project that had yet to be tested.
Michelle is known for creating incredibly detailed hand-painted jewelry reflecting the art of the renowned potters in her family. This vibrancy shows through in the rich hues and complex designs of all Michelle’s works. BTW - her Eighth Generation wool blanket design, “Autumn Reflection” (preview it here), launches in January.
Gift pick: “Chasing Summer” Earrings - $70
HOUSE OF HOWESSarah Agaton Howes (Anishinaabe) was the second artist to participate in the Inspired Natives Project, and she is a FORCE for positive change. From the Fond du Lac reservation in Minnesota, she not only teaches beadwork to the community, organizes and runs races with her indigenous women’s running group, writes and performs award-winning poetry, and raises her kids - she also operates her own online shop offering her custom-beaded jewelry and accessories as well as products created through our Inspired Natives Project collaboration. Sarah’s designs feature vibrant, joyful Ojibwe florals, featuring dogwood, strawberry, and wild rice motifs. Keep an eye out for Sarah’s “Restoration” wool blanket (preview it here) - sales begin February 2016!
Gift pick: “Gifts Upon the Water” Hoodie - $50
So those are just a few of the good people I've come across. I could go on and on... Debra Yepa-Pappan, Chris Pappan, Roger Fernandes, Marvin Oliver, Nadya Kwandibens, Laura Kina, Michelle Kumata, Jeff Bana, Victor Pascual...but let's call it quits for now. There's always next year. Remember, if you're buying cultural art, make sure your dollars are supporting Inspired Natives, not "Native-inspired" (and if you're not sure, ask yourself a few key questions before buying). Happy holidays from all of us at Eighth Generation, and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous new year!
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Eighth Generation by Louie Gong