Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Art of the Skateboard Forever stamps will be released Mar. 24.
Crystal Kaakeeyáa Rose Demientieff Worl is a Tlingit, Athabascan, and Filipino artist in Juneau and the co-owner of Trickster Company.
Her creative process is a means to bridge her existence between two worlds; the traditional worlds of Tlingit and the modern world.
On Mar. 24, she will attend the USPS stamp Art of the Skateboard release in Phoenix, Arizona at the Desert West Skatepark. She said she's excited to meet the other Indigenous artists.
Worl's stamp is featured with three other skateboard stamps all on one sheet.
"It's so cool to be in this collective of artists. I didn't know about the artists before and then we've been talking to each other and tagging each other on Instagram," she said. "We're gonna meet in person at this event. It's really cool. I love working with other artists and meeting other artists. I really admire their work in the communities they're from. They have parallel issues."
It starts at 11 a.m. and is a free event. People can RVSP here. There will also be a Facebook Live to watch following the event.
Below: Worl's stamp (top row, right) along with the other three stamp designs. (Photo courtesy of USPS/US Postal Service)
While Worl doesn't consider herself a skater, she shared how Trickster Co. started off as Trickster Co. Skateboards.
"Rico started it in 2010 and he was hand painting skateboards to sell his art hang on walls. He had me do a couple as well. But we developed into manufacturing and creating graphic designs that are heat pressed on skateboards and sold at a more fair price," she said. "We're offering selling those skateboards at different sizes. We want to see actual skaters and kids outside skating on our boards."
Worl also mentioned that over the pandemic, Trickster Co. transitioned from their downtown Front St. location to an online store only.
Worl commented on what it's like to see Tlingit formline art represented on a national level.
"My brother Rico designed the Raven Story on a USPS stamp and it was really awesome to see his work be recognized at that level. But also Northwest Coast art to be recognized nationally. Historically, in southeast Alaska, Northwest Coast Native art has been appropriated time and time again and again," she said. "Gift shops and tourist boats and cruises and tours have sold a lot of knockoff native art that's made in Bali or overseas in China. It's really been stifling to the native communities and local artists. That's our livelihood. It also perpetuates stereotyping and taking from Indigenous people. This ceremonial art is like our ancestors, and it's kept from us in museums. We need it back."
Her brother's stamp is now only available as a collector's item on Trickster's website.
While this particular skateboard won't be available to buy, Worl said that she looks forward to creating more skateboard designs.
She said that her brother would receive fan mail with his stamp on it, and she looks forward to sending off letters with her skateboard stamp.
"I don't actually have the stamp in my hands yet," she said. "It will be rewarding once I do."
Worl added how her grandmother is also working to represent Pacific Northwest Coast formline art in Juneau.
"My grandmother Rosita Worl, she's been working really hard with Sealaska Heritage Institute to make Pacific Northwest Coast art a national treasure. Coincidentally also creating the Pacific Northwest Coast arts campus in Juneau, Alaska. They're also working to make Juneau the next capital of Northwest Coast art. It's really cool to be a part of it through my art," Worl said.
It took about two years to finalize the design. Since USPS is federal, there was a lot of paperwork and steps to follow.
Worl added her typical artistic process with a client is for them to send her a mood board to work off of.
Worl said she first sketched four different formline designs, and USPS was most intrigued by a water theme with blue and indigo. From there, she simplified and refined the salmon formline, which she added was challenging. Formline art can be very intricate and complex, and she had to make sure it would come through clearly on a small stamp.
"I had to really minimize the amount of lines. Part of my process is also educating and teaching the very basics of understanding what you're looking at when you see formline design," she said. "I hope it makes it easier for the next formline artist they might work with. I really love how it turned out, I love working with blue paints."
After her skateboard was finalized, she mailed it to USPS, who then took a photograph for the stamp.
Below: The early sketch process. (Photo courtesy of Crystal Worl)
Worl explained how her stamp will help others learn about Tlingit culture.
"It's a sockeye salmon, which is also in my clan. Tlingit Lukaax̱.ádi, Raven Sockeye clan. The design for the USPS stamp is not my clan crest, but it is of a sockeye salmon. It's this powerful, amazing being. It's built of muscle that carries nitrogen and nutrients from the deep waters and brings it to Southeast Alaska. The salmon are able to navigate back home, which is incredible, very intelligent, amazing beings that travel very long ways to their homeland where they were hatched so that they can spawn and create the next generation," she said. "Then their bodies die, they pass away. The nutrients and the nitrogen are seeped into the earth here and it's created this lush, Tongass rainforest."
Salmon has been the livelihood of the Tlingit culture for many years and remains a huge resource for all Alaskans.
"The symbol of salmon is like abundance. The fact that it's in formline design, people recognize that as Alaskan, as Indigenous," Worl remarked. "I think it's really important to also recognize that it's by an Indigenous artist. It's an Indigenous person telling our story."
"The Art of the Skateboard Forever stamps will be available for purchase at your local Post Office and The Postal Store at USPS.com after their release on Mar. 24. In addition to the stamps, USPS.com also has collectible items, including the Art of the Skateboard vinyl stickers and more, only available online and can be pre-ordered now," said USPS spokesperson Jonathan Castillo.
Below: A full sheet image of the stamps available for purchase. (Photo courtesy of USPS/US Postal Service)
Below: Worl holds her skateboard before sending it off to USPS. (Photo courtesy of Crystal Worl)
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