Nature unites us all, and we’re passionate about sharing the unique bonds that connect us to the planet and one another.
Our latest collection celebrates this shared connection and features designs by Anishinaabe artist Luke Swinson, a member of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation. We sat down with Luke to learn more about his creative process, inspirations, and his journey of reconnecting with his Indigenous heritage.
Q: How has your personal journey and cultural background influenced your creative process as an artist, and what inspired you to pursue a career in art?
I grew up in a very supportive and artistic family, but art and culture were aspects of my life that I kept at arm’s length. Growing up away from my Indigenous community, I always felt a separation of my identity: that my Indigeneity was rooted elsewhere and that I couldn’t access it where I lived. It wasn’t until adulthood that I realized the importance of language and culture, and it was through this revelation that my art became inspired.
Q: What are some of the key sources of inspiration for your art? How do you translate these inspirations into your work?
Language, family, and the natural world around me are my greatest sources of inspiration. Our language, Anishinaabemowin, is very visual, and it constantly inspires my artwork as I learn it. I started by learning simple words, such as the names of animals, and this would inspire my drawings.
My parents and sister all play an important role in my development as an artist and in my cultural journey. They are my biggest supporters and have all, in their own way, had a major impact on my artistic vision.
Currently, my greatest source of inspiration is my partner Alanah (Morningstar Designs). She is Bear Clan from Oneida Nation of the Thames and is also a visual artist. Her passion for her culture and her love for her people and the earth are a daily source of inspiration for me.
Q: Your mission is to promote cultural education and preservation through your art projects; what does this mean to you, and how do you bring these concepts to life through your work?
I want others to witness my journey and be motivated to go on a journey of their own. I think about how much Indigenous representation in public art spaces would have meant to me growing up. My hope is that my art projects inspire Indigenous youth and that they feel a sense of community and belonging through them.
Q: Can you tell us about your connection to nature and the role this plays in your life?
I live in the city, so spending time with nature is a daily intentional activity. My partner and I love to explore and be inspired by the Southern Ontario landscape. The Grand River is such an important place for us. We spend a lot of time along the river and are so thankful for it. These walks help us to reflect and give thanks for the many gifts in our lives.
Q: What wisdom would you share with others who are interested in connecting or learning more about their Indigenous roots?
My advice is to listen. Listen to elders, listen to knowledge keepers, listen to the Earth. They all have been waiting to share with us.
The Luke Swinson Collection supports planting cedar trees in Western Canada. Shop the Collection.
Featured: Women’s Artist Series Logo T-Shirt and Men’s Artist Waves T-Shirt
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