The First People’s logo was conceived and designed for our initiative by Cal Nez, a Utah-based graphic artist. The process of designing an image that represents many things—indigeneity, scholarship, publishing—is both slow and dynamic, particularly so for our new initiative.
We wanted something that served as a synthesis of both meaning and art. We wanted something that would explain the many collaborations that fall within the umbrella of our work, whether they be among Native and non-Native scholars, among authors and editors, among university presses, among author and reader, or among the many combinations of these important pieces.
Navajo artist Cal Nez provided to us the careful thought and skill we needed to weave together all of these elements visually. Cal, Tachiinii Clan born for the Taanaszanii Clan, was originally from Tocito New Mexico. Cal was raised by his grandparents, the late Bitonie and Mary B. Nez, from infancy. He only spoke Navajo until he entered the Bureau of Indian Affairs Boarding School in Sanostee, New Mexico. Cal takes pride in being a Navajo person bridging the gap between cultures. Today, Cal lives with is loving wife, Yolanda, in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he operates his design and communications firm, Cal Nez Design.
Here is how Cal Nez explains the First People’s logo:
How did you come to work with the First Peoples publishing initiative?
I got a call from a very kind and focused individual named Natasha Varner. She explained her conceptual approach regarding this project. She shared her reasons why she called upon Cal Nez Design.
What was your process to create the logo for the initiative?
First, I need a client with a defined concept and direction for their project, which First Peoples had when they called me. Secondly, I interpreted the conceptual approach shared with me. I absolutely agreed with the usage of the circle. I then incorporated “Circle of Life, Circle of Knowledge” the concept evolved to the global approach of Native American ideology. We are apart of Mother Earth and it is our approach to share knowledge and wisdom to the written word, both receiving and sharing philosophies.
What kinds of things were you thinking about as you developed this logo?
Mother Earth, the “Circle of Life,” the “Circle of Knowledge,” the dramatic color of the Native American community artistry, and the Four Sacred directions.
What inspired you in your color choices?
The color of nature. The sunrise and sunset, beginning and conclusion of the day.
On you website, you say that “solving cross-cultural communication through design.” What advice do you have for upcoming students who want to do the same thing?
To learn more about Cal Nez Design, visit his website www.calnezdesign.com.