Brodie Sunwalk starts each art piece with an idea, a blank piece of paper and a Crayola marker. He begins to write the word he has in mind, drawing the lettering gently and when he wants the line thicker, he pushes down on the marker.

“I usually go through a couple pieces of paper constantly writing it and trying to get the right style,” says Sunwalk.

He then scans the paper, imports the file into Adobe’s Photoshop or Illustrator, and gets to work creating one of his unique designs.

Sunwalk is the youngest of five boys, an accomplished high-school runner and a member of the Siksika Nation, a reserve located an hour east of Calgary.

He keeps a sample of his writing from a year ago to remind himself of how far he’s come. “It wasn’t very good,” chuckled Sunwalk. “Fast-forward to now, I know how to work the pen better and make it all cool.”

Brodie Sunwalk in his clothing line titled Guh. Photo by Trevor Solway

Sunwalk attributes his skill to taking a year off of school, the Internet and just practicing all the time. He uses Instagram as a constant source of inspiration. YouTube is his digital library, where he is learning, adapting and strengthening his tools. And Photoshop and Illustrator are his tools of choice, helping to refine his typography, design logos and his shirts.

Just last fall Sunwalk designed a t-shirt with the popular Blackfoot slang word “Guh.”

“It’s like if someone asked you to go the store and you say, ‘Guh.’ It’s like an agreement to go somewhere,” says Sunwalk.

The design went viral on social media and Sunwalk received numerous orders for the Guh shirts.

“We didn’t expect to get that many orders,” he says.

Sunwalk practices calligraphy with different combinations of letters. Photo by Trevor Solway

The venture included four of the five Sunwalk brothers and they quickly put their heads together, refined the design and got to work. They travelled from the Reserve to buy the T-shirts, gather the printing material and then they would produce the shirts in the Sunwalk “rez sweatshop” — their parents’ basement.

The four brothers — Brodie, Tyrine, Tony and Brett — would take turns burning the emulsion and ironing the logo onto the shirts. They’re currently in the process of rebranding, creating new logos and creating a better system for printing. Sunwalk expects to have new designs for a spring and summer collection.

tsolway@cjournal.ca 

The editor responsible for this article is Brandon Tucker | btucker@cjournal.ca