IPI: Indigenous Peeps in the Industry – 13

IPI #13 – Stephen Gladue

Stephen GaldueAh, #yuss … time for another edition of Indigenous Peeps in the Industry or ‘IPI‘ – my blog series that celebrates Indigenous artists, writers, and other creatives working in the comic book and/or video game industry. In this segment, I get to talk with Stephen Gladue, indigenous artist extraordinaire. Stephen and I both worked on MOONSHOT: The Indigenous Comics Collection and both volumes feature his fantastic cover artwork. Here’s a brief primer on Stephen:

Born and raised on the Fishing Lake Métis Settlement, Stephen Gladue is a talented artist residing in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia who specializes in Animation and Visual effects for Film, Television and Games. Classically and technically trained at some of the best art schools in Canada, Stephen has made it his career’s mission to contribute to the advancement of Aboriginal production, Not only to be part of it but to be a driving force behind it. As such he has become one of Western Canada’s most sought after Indigenous content creators.

Stephen sharpened his base skill sets at the Vancouver Film School where he developed a comprehensive understanding of classical Animation, Later devoting time to his technical skills in the 3D Animation, Art and Design program at the Art Institute of Vancouver. Between vocations he took part in the Aboriginal film production program at Capilano College. Only to be asked to return, this time as a guest lecturer. Since then he’s guest-lectured and provided instruction to hundreds of children when not holding key creative positions in between television projects.

His work has been profiled by the CBC, Graffiti Arts Magazine, and a variety of other print and digital publications.

Without further ado, let’s get to it!

Michael Sheyahshe (MS): Background info: what is your tribal affiliation and where are you from?

Stephen Gladue (SG): I am Métis from the Fishing Lake Métis Settlement in Alberta, Canada.

MS: Did you have a lot of cultural interaction growing up? (Family gatherings, dances, ceremonies, etc.?)

SG: I did! Feasts were something special that I enjoyed, large blankets on the grass with multiple families, I really appreciated that, we picked berries, hunted, my Grandfather snared and both Grandparents stretched hides, everyone in my area smudges. I still love the smell of that.

MS: When did you first get into comics?

SG: Since I could read, I think. My Mom would always pick me up one whenever she ran into the nearest town. When Erik Larson and Todd McFarlane hit the scene, that’s when my love for comics really hit a new high.

MS: What is your favorite comic book of all time…something that turns Friday-Sunday into a ‘lost weekend’?

SG: It would have to be early Ghost Rider, I loved the story, I really let myself get invested in those early issues, when I found out that he had also existed much earlier that really blew my mind back then.

MS: What is your specialty in the biz?

SG: I work a lot lately as a storyboard artist, but I have a strong passion for matte painting.

Art by Stephen Gladue
Art by Stephen Gladue

MS: Did you get special training and/or education for this?

SG: I did! I went to a few film schools but learning tools online were also a tremendous help. nowadays everything is so easily available to learn if you’re passionate about learning.

MS: What other comics/projects have you worked on?

SG: I’ve been fortunate enough to have my name attached to multiple television projects as a key creative, I created the look and the majority of the art work for Amy’s Mythic Mornings, and more recently the title sequence and animations for the special series 1491 that’s currently airing, that project is airing around the world on multiple networks including CCTV in China! That’s almost a billion people who have access to that channel so I’m excited about that.

MS: Have you created any comic books with Native American characters in them?

SG: I personally haven’t created nearly as many as I’d like to, I think we’re not even scratching the surface as to what’s going to come when talking about Native Americans in comics, it’s all going to just keep bigger and to me that’s exciting.

MS: Do you have an opinion about Indigenous characters in comics, video games, and/or pop culture?

SG: I think it’s just important to have representation out there, nobody is going to get it right immediately but it’s coming. with more of us contributing to this it’ll eventually get to a point where other groups will have no choice but to recognize appropriation.

Art by Stephen Gladue
Art by Stephen Gladue

MS: Do you know of any other Natives in the “biz” (comics/video game industry)?

SG: I do! I know some great people in really great positions right now, both in comics and games, I’ve been working with this incredible group down in California whose sole purpose is to teach Native kids math in a really fun way, we’ve done a few games now and are currently expanding into the Canadian market. the group is 7 Generation Games if you’re interested to learn more.

MS: Any words of wisdom for others (Native or non) looking to do what you do?

SG: Definitely don’t be afraid to blaze your own path, and do what makes you truly happy not what everyone else wants you to do. A little preparation is nice, but too much could work against you. if you have an idea run with it as fast as you can. you’ll be surprised at what you’re capable of if you go for it.

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