Rico Lanáat’ Worl is a Tlingit/Athabascan designer. His work speaks to the experience of living with traditional values as a modern person. He is the founder of Trickster Company which strives to promote innovative indigenous design. He also created the design for the newest Raven Stamp from USPS, releasing July 30, 2021.
We interviewed Rico to find out more about his background and the story behind the new stamp design. Here is the transcript of the interview:
Q: Which of your projects are you most proud of?
A: The stamp of course is a huge honor. To be able to represent on a national platform is huge. Personally though, the project I call Trickster Company is the project I am most proud of. I set out on the venture with some goals and I am steadily able to accomplish them over time. In particular I love when I see kids playing with a basketball we designed or someone message us and say they saw our artwork in some random place in the world. It makes me feel like we are making a difference with our work, even if just in a small way with one or two people.
Q: How did you become an artist? What is your educational background?
A: I got my undergraduate in Anthropology from University of Pennsylvania, a bachelors of arts in Social Anthropology. I came home and started working for my community at Sealaska Heritage Institute with my degree. As far as the art, I never really considered myself an artist very much. I often label myself as a Social Designer since much of my work in design is one through my lens as an Anthropologist. I address a few key issues with my work in a variety of areas that I've kind of assessed through that lens.
Q: How has your Native American background influenced your art? Any other inspirations/influences?
A: Art is integral to culture. So art and design was ALWAYS something I worked on while I wasn't working on other projects. It became the tool I felt most adept at using in my design career.
Q: Do you collect stamps?
A: I have collected some since I started designing them in 2018. I like space related stamps. I've always wanted to go to space. The moon eclipse one was amazing and I love any star wars stamps as well. I've been a fan of stamps that promote people of color's stories as well. Most have been commemorative stamps honoring leaders in the BIPOC community though so I hope in the future to see more artists from these communities able to tell stories via the platform like I have had the opportunity to.
Q: What inspired you to have your art featured on a stamp?
A: I was approached by Antonio Alcala, an art director with the USPS.
Q:How did you first meet Antonio?
A: He discovered our work in the gift shop at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC.
Q: How did you choose the story of the Raven to inspire your stamp design?
A: I knew that I would be representing a very large national audience. I wanted to represent a good entry point for learning about Tlingit culture. I have some information on my website and will be posting a video version of the story to be heard there as well soon so people can learn more. I hope it inspires people to not only see Native American people as modern people who carry vibrant cultures, but that they also are inspired to go learn something about those cultures.
Q: Can you talk about the process of designing art for a stamp?
A: After being approached to design the stamp, I approached the design process by just drawing out what I wanted to do. It was a unique process because I worked with Antonio as well as the USPS stamp selection committee to kind of focus on what would make a good stamp but also represent the story and culture well. This was different from my usual process naturally, so I experimented designing differently. Usually I design digitally. This project I actually took large sheets of paper and did more gestural work with charcoal. Then when I had a form I liked I refined it in pencil. And finally I digitized it.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: As a full time artist and entrepreneur, I would like to share my websites www.trickstercompany.com and www.ricoworl.com and appreciate anyone visiting them and helping me continue my career and my ability to fund my artwork.