John Pepion on Open Minds and Never Ending Grind
The first time John Isaiah Pepion (Piikani) appeared on NextGen Native, I titled the accompanying blog post “Up and Coming Ledger Artist.” About 1.5 years later John returned to catch up, and from our conversation, the title was accurate! John’s on the move, and if you're not familiar with his work, you should check it out. We discussed how he has grown as an artist and businessperson recently. He mentioned he started growing even more when he opened himself up to learn and take feedback from others. This mindset can be applied to any job or activity. It can be hard to open yourself up to feedback, but it empowers you in a way that few other things can. As John opened himself up to feedback, he started engaging more and more with communities. His Instagram page shows tons of photos with him at schools. He also mentioned he spends time with elder groups. And through this service, he gains new insight and perspective on his art that he can use to grow, even while giving back to others. Besides John’s amazing art, his grind is really what is paying off for him. He travels everywhere, he’s been taking on cultural learnings at home, learning how to make his business more sustainable. And he still finds time everyday to draw. When you see someone growing their influence, and quality of their work, there’s probably a healthy dose of hard work that you don’t see, but it’s there. John’s trajectory looks awesome, his hardwork is paying off. He’s done collaborations with other amazing artists, etc. in Indian Country. It’s fun to see NextGen Natives grow. It’s fun to meet new people or connect with friends and colleagues and watch them transform, grow, overcome challenges and ultimately achieve success, with myself as a fortunate observer to their journey.