Shop Native Artist Of The Month: John Pepion

Shop Native Artist Of The Month: John Pepion

Posted By Jared McKiernan March 8th, 2021 Last Updated on: April 7th, 2021

Each month, we're celebrating a Native American artist, whose work you can find on our Shop Native directory, which features both Native American products and products made for Natives. These products include clothing, beauty, beadwork, herbal, art, blankets, and more. With over 40 companies and products already listed, the directory is attracting visitors from around the world.  
 
This month, we're featuring John Pepion of Eighth Generation.
 
Founded in 2008, Eighth Generation is a Native-owned and operated company based in Seattle, Washington. It's the first Native-owned company to ever produce wool blankets—with a flagship retail store in Seattle's iconic Pike Place Market.
 
Pepion is a Plains Indian graphic artist from the Piikani Band of the Blackfoot Confederacy. He is based out of the Blackfeet reservation in north-central Montana. Pepion is best known for his ledger art, an art tradition that developed in Plains tribes as the buffalo hide they traditionally used for painting became scarce, and they were forced to adapt to making artwork on the ledger paper from accounting books. He comes from a family of artists, and ledger art has been in his family for hundreds of years.
 
Pepion shared a little about what goes into his work. 

When did you get into graphic arts?

I have been creating art from a young age, and in 2009 I started pursuing Plains Indian Graphic Arts full time.

Who or what inspires you the most in your artistic process?

The finished piece or project because I enjoy the reactions plus criticism. It helps me grow as an artist. I always feel there is room for improvement.

What creation or design are you most proud of?

Out of all my products, from the silk buffalo scarf to the horse mug, I am [most] proud of the “Lightning Horse” wool blanket.



Pepion's “Lightning Horse” wool blanket

When did you link up with Eighth Generation?

After being a runner-up for a blanket design in 2018, I became part of Eighth Generation’s Inspired Native Project.

What is your favorite thing about working with 8th Gen?

I am involved from the development to the launch of each of my products—from blankets, scarves, prints, socks, enamel pins, earrings, and most recently, coffee mugs. I have also gotten to know the 8th Generation staff at all levels. We are a family.

8th Gen lives by the motto “Inspired Natives, not Native-inspired.” What does being an “Inspired Native” mean to you?

I am just a Rez kid that decided to go for it. If I can inspire anyone, I feel like I am doing my job.  But most importantly, I feel it is important for customers to know they are buying authentic products from a Native person, rather than buying products that are Native inspired. And that it is OK to buy and wear products from Native people.

What would you say to the next generation of Native artists?

I would like to remind the next generation of Native artists to take seriously the role of preserving their traditions while also staying in school and learning to adapt to these modern times.




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