So, who are you?
I’ve been a graphic artist at an independent design business named Zerflin since 2000. I have shown my artwork in over 150 locations and have long-running shows in Los Angeles, Vancouver, Nashville, and Baltimore. My work often uses themes of love, cultural understanding, and futurism to appeal to and inspire the imagination of diverse audiences.
I grew up among the Naskapi in Kawawachikamach in Northern Quebec. I witnessed the notions other people had about this marginalized, indigenous community; and how those perceptions influenced the way the Naskapi people were treated. The disadvantages the community bore were directly related to how well the Naskapi people were understood by people from outside of the community. Once an outsider took the time to begin to understand the Naskapi people, their judgment would begin to soften.
I learned the power that stories and imagery have to create spaces for open-minded communication and understanding. I have carried this understanding with me throughout my life; and have put this practice into action by using art as a gateway for open-minded communication about marginalized cultures.
The most important function of my artwork lives in the conversations that are inspired by my pieces. I use my art as the launching point to have conversations, both positive and negative, when I give an artist’s talk and every time. Creating these spaces on and offline where understanding can be cultivated is my life’s mission.
How did you end up in Northern Quebec?
When I was 4, my family moved to Schefferville, Quebec to begin my father’s work. My father is a linguist and Bible translator to the Naskapi tribe.
I went to Jimmy Sandy Memorial School from Kindergarten through Grade 11, with a couple years of homeschooling in between. I spent most of my time in the village of Kawawachikamach. I learned the language quickly, and found at a very early age I was able to shift easily between the four major languages in Schefferville (Naskapi, Innu, French, and English).
I began exploring three major hobbies; piano, engineering, and art. Engineering played the predominating role at the time; I would take apart and put back together electronics, and my father and I built a snowmobile from scratch.
How did you end up in the States?
When I graduated from the Naskapi high school with high honours, the Governor General’s Award, and the Cree-Naskapi Award, I decided to head to the United States to go to college and become a Mechanical Engineer.
Since Quebec only goes to Grade 11, I took an extra year of high school in my parent’s home state of Connecticut to reduce the culture shock of coming to the US. While attending Robert E. Fitch Sr. High, I had my first ever art class. I became excited about the field of graphic design and began toying with it in my spare time, but stayed focused on my original plan of becoming an engineer.
I was accepted at a lot of colleges and universities, but I was really apprehensive about American schools. My only exposure to them was seeing stuff on MTV’s Spring Break, and I felt the weight of how much it cost. I wanted to study, not party. So I eventually chose to go to Messiah College, outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
How did you become a Graphic Artist?
During the second semester of my second year at college as an Engineering student, I was in the back of a circuits class right before the Christmas holidays. A bunch of us students were bored in the back, and we were passing around a sheet of paper and adding Christmas lights onto a chain.
I drew a light on the chain, and passed it to my friend Erika. She looked at my light, and said “Did you just draw that from memory? This looks like I could pick it up. You’re in the wrong major.”
Though I was good at Engineering, Art is what held my passion, and my greatest talents. After much praying and talking with many of the professors in various departments at Messiah, I made the decision of transferring to a Graphic Arts major.
I began designing in 1999 and immediately saw the potential to grow the skill into a company.
Originally called Blue Eclipse Design, I built up a portfolio by doing massive amounts of pro-bono work.
I was inspired by working for free, and vowed to create a company that would not only be a haven for other freelancing designers but also always be dedicated to providing the best quality work for the client, regardless of the price.
I am also the artist for all the artwork you see on the site.
I am the president & founder of Zerflin, which I created in 2000. Though it is among many talents, vector illustrations would be considered my forté and my favourite choice of artistic expressions.
I explore artwork through a graphic design medium.
As a graphic designer, you’re constantly thinking of the client, the message, the audience, the story. In art school, I was told that for art, you’re supposed to ignore all those things, to be free.
But I don’t find those things to be binding…
I’ve never really felt comfortable calling myself an artist, I just try to make things I find visually pleasing to myself and to others.
And so, in this way, I create.