John Isaiah Pepion
This week’s highlight is John Isaiah Pepion, from the Blackfeet Nation located in North-Western MT. John is a Native American artist who studied Art Marketing at the United Tribes Technical College and Museum Studies at the Institute of American Indian Arts.
He began his journey as an artist by using it as a form of therapy. This was no surprise, considering he came from a family of artists.
“When I was a kid I would always get in trouble because I was always drawing on the desks,” said Pepion.
Art became a way to release anger rather than holding it in for John. This has transitioned into John teaching and sharing these same techniques to other people. John is also a part of the Inspired Natives Project with Eighth Generation which is a Native-owned company that is based in Seattle Washington.
The Inspired Natives Project is a business and educational initiative that collaborates with artists/entrepreneurs who then manufacture under the Eighth Generation brand. Under this project, he created numerous products such as a wool blanket with his original design.
John also mentors other artists and tells them everything he learned by working in this industry.
“The biggest thing I emphasize is that they need to get an online presence or an e-commerce platform,” said John
“you need to find different lanes to rely on.” Which is exactly what he does.
He conducts trainings, participates in panel discussions and does other art commissions such as logos for business. On his website, which he created himself, he offers custom orders and other artwork he has created. “I personally love ink drawing the most.”
According to John, some of the harder parts of working in this business, is the sacrifice you have to make with friends and family. You have to learn how to balance your personal relationships and constantly work on new projects to keep up to date with the market needs and wants.
An online presence has a significant impact on your business and with new technology emerging every day it is important to constantly learn new techniques that will work for you. John had to do intensive research on website creation and how to manage his website and e-commerce.
“The hardest part about starting this business is that I taught everything myself,” said John “I am constantly learning so some things are harder than others but I love it.”
This interview was amazing for me, I got an insight into all the hard work John puts into his business. He is following his passion and it gives me and other Indigenous people hope that if we continue to persevere and pursue our passion, we can also become successful.
Please contact us for any questions and if you want to see more of John Isaiah Pepion’s work please feel free to visit his website at https://johnisaiahpepion.com/or follow him on Instagram @johnisaiahpepion
Indiginous Outreach Specialist
Accelerate Montana's Rural Innovation Initiative