Graphic Design in the Arctic: Featuring Thomassie Mangiok!

Some time ago, I decided to look up Inuit graphic design and came across work on the Pirnoma Technologies Inc  website. Pirnoma Technologies is an Inuit-run company that offers IT support, webdesign, and graphic design in Nunavik, a region in the northernmost reaches of Quebec, Canada. That’s right, it’s in the Arctic!  Nunavik means “great land” in Inuktitut, an Inuit language, and is mostly inhabited by Inuit people. If you’re not sure where Nunavik is here is a map (It’s way up there!):


(Map from


I was intrigued by the logos I encountered on the website and emailed Pirnoma Technologies for more information about the designs. The designer, Thomassie Mangiok, who is Inuit, graciously provided information on several of the designs, and even sent some additional work! What I really enjoy about Thomassie’s work is the simple elegance of the designs, as well as the distinct cultural and regional/environmental influences evident in the work. Awesomely, several of the logos incorporate a writing script for Inuit languages, as well as French. Anyhow, see for yourself! I’ve included his commentary on several of the designs as well. Enjoy!


Logo for Nunavik Parks
Logo for Nunavik Parks

Nunavik Parks

“Nunavik Parks logo was one of my earliest designs. It had to present the north. The animals and natural formations had to be equally presented, shapes and colors through the logo and text. The mountains, the moon, sea animals and birds are distinguishable in a very simple and effective image.”

I love it! Very bold. Thomassie also created some beautiful wall designs for Nunavik Parks. Check them out in the gallery below:




Uumajuit Warden

“The logo is meant to display the work domain of the client – the client is there to support the region and life in the location. The map was also included in respect to Kativik Regional Government’s logo (that I did not create, but it is involved). The animals visually fit around each other reflecting the circle of life.” (I really love the interconnecting of the animals and the color choice.)

Logo for Kangiqsujuaq Adventures

Aventures Kangiqsujuaq

“The image portrays with its bright colors and movement in an assembled fashion describing natural adventure through the client, anything is possible. The logo will stand out from a crowded environment.”

logo for Tamaani, Nunavik's Leading Internet Service Provider


Thomassie created this logo for Tamaani, Nunavik’s leading internet service provider.




Yoga courses in Nunavik

“A client requested to have text in Inuttitut to indicate their field of activity, Yoga classes in the north.” Check out how the yoga poses mirror the Inuttitut syllabics!


On the Right Path

Thomassie created the logo for On the Right Path, as well as the following poster which displays “youth, confidence and the north.”



Also, here are two digital posters, “created to show the possibility of an ongoing project, nipisi.”




Very cool, no? I hope you enjoyed this selection of work as much as I did! Thanks for sharing, Thomassie! I will be revisiting the Arctic in a future post, but first, I plan on going in the opposite direction and highlighting a few designers from the US Southwest next!



Indigenized Book Forms

067531 003While browsing through the online collections on the National Museum of the American Indian, I came across this beautiful Anishinaabe (Chippewa/Ojibwa) Bible cover made sometime around 1880-1900. Now, as an Ojibway myself, I am particularly fond of it. Look at those colors!  The flowers are just beautiful. What is particularly interesting about the cover is that it uses birchbark, porcupine quills, and sweetgrass – all traditional, pre-contact Anishinaabe materials for making and decorating things. The floral motif is also a part of Ojibway art history and culture (and is very much part of our contemporary identity). Florals were developed/embraced by Native people, steeped in natural tradition/respect, and influenced Victorian florals, Persian rugs, and the like (which were contemporary to their time – the whole thing can get academic, but if you’re interested in ideas about the development of florals check out Ruth Phillips’ book Trading Identities: The Souvenir in Native North American Art from the Northeast, 1700-1900). Anyway, it’s a gorgeous, elegant example of Ojibway art. (See the NMAI entry for this quilled birchbark Anishinaabe (Chippewa/Ojibwa) Bible)

To think about this Bible cover further, the artist, whoever she may have been (I say she since women frequently primarily engaged in this type of birchbark/quillwork art), took an established form of a European Bible (which at that time would likely be leather-bound) and in essence, Indigenized it for an undeniably Ojibway result. I’m sure the Bible was very precious to her or whoever else it may have been made for. What else can be done when designing an object with Native cultural influences in mind?

I got to explore this idea myself, as related to books, while I was going to Oregon State University. At one point, I was taking a photography class at the same time that I was taking a packaging design course. The latter course really opened my mind to exploring and shaping the form of an object, and it ended up influencing the first class. I had taken some photographs at a pow wow and needed to figure out how to present them, so I decided to go in a hand-made book format. I ended up making the cover imitative of the fringed shawls of female fancy dancers – the cover was fringed in the same manner as a shawl I was working on for a friend. It was a fun experiment, and overall I’m happy with the result.

Got an example of a cool Native-styled book? Let me know!

First American Art Magazine

First American Art Magazine

I will be writing a design column in the upcoming First American Art, “a magazine dedicated to showcasing art by indigenous peoples of the Americas,” put together by America Meredith (Cherokee Nation). The pilot issue (Issue 0) will be coming out in March. It’s looking very promising already – contributors include Roy Boney, Jr. (Cherokee Nation), Kennetha Greenwood (Otoe-Missouria), Reid Gómez (Navajo Nation), Andrea R. Hanley (Navajo Nation), Melissa Melero (Fallon Paiute-Modoc), Jessica Metcalfe, PhD (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe), Denise Neil-Binion (Delaware),  Nathan Romero (Cochiti Pueblo), and Sarah Sense (Chitimacha-Choctaw).

Check out/Follow First American Art!



The blog begins!

This section will feature cool work of Native designers, interviews, case studies, and the like! If you are a Native designer and would like to be featured or highlight an interesting project of yours, please get in contact!

In the meantime, I will post cool design projects I come across.

Just for fun, here are a couple projects of mine:

Label for an upcoming jerky company.
Swag, Anishinabek Style.