The Definitive Hoodrat: Paul Frank Native Designer Autumn Dawn Gomez
This is the second of four features on the Native designers who have been selected to collaborate with Paul Frank Industries on a line of clothing and accessories. Called "Paul Frank Presents," the collection will debut on August 16 at the Santa Fe Indian Market. The first installment is here: "Point Lips, Not Fingers: Paul Frank Native Designer Dustin Martin." Here, in her own words, is jewelry designer Autumn Dawn Gomez of Soft Gallery.
NAME: Autumn Dawn Gomez
TRIBAL HERITAGE: Comanche/Taos
SPECIALTY: Fine art, graphic design, illustration, character design, and custom streetwear for the definitive hoodrat
INFLUENCES AS A DESIGNER: “I love the bright, glittery, neon, and geometric elements utilized in traditional and powwow fashions; I keep them in mind when designing street wear. The pieces I have designed include exclusive crowns, not unlike something you’d see on powwow royalty 500 years in the future.
"For this particular project, I am creating Hama Bead jewelry using a bold and neon palette combined with strong elements of geometry to create 5 different nature scenes -- each captured in the silhouette of Paul Frank’s mascot, Julius.
"Each design is based on a landscape that I feel close to. I know that basing my concept on nature may sound cliché, but when done in classic Soft Museum style, it becomes very vivid and almost ultra modern. The result suggests neon video game backgrounds from the early ‘90s paired with the bold geometry of Southern Plains bead work.
"My grandmothers taught me how to bead and I have the honor of owning beautiful vintage pieces made by my grandmother’s aunts. I remember visiting in Oklahoma as a little girl and seeing their beads and supplies all spread out over the kitchen table. Though Hama Beads are not a traditional medium, I feel like I am part of their creative legacy and I look to those memories for inspiration."
THOUGHTS ON WORKING WITH PAUL FRANK INDUSTRIES: “I’m extremely honored to be mentioned, let alone participate, in such a project. Being taken seriously as an artist and designer is really exciting and something I’ve been seriously striving for since I was very young.
"As for the Paul Frank brand, it’s an admirable quality to own up to one’s mistakes (especially in an industry where apologies for similar incidents are sparse) and I feel an extra sense of responsibility to positively represent our Native Cultures through my designs.
"Cultural appropriation is a side effect of the lack of education and therefore understanding the mainstream has for Indigenous cultures.
"By working with Paul Frank Industries, I want to represent Native America in a positive, fun, and professional manner. I also want this collaboration to reflect on the business skills and creativity of my fellow artists in the project. To see Native designers become relevant in the mainstream is something we’ve all be dreaming of.”