Postal Service selects skateboard stamp by Juneau Tlingit artist

Crystal Kaakeeyáa Rose Demientieff Worl is a Tlingit, Athabascan and Filipino artist and co-owner of Trickster Company in Juneau. And a postage stamp designer, too.

On March 24, she will attend the Art of the Skateboard U.S. Postal Service stamp release in Phoenix, at the Desert West Skatepark. Worl's stamp is featured with three other skateboard stamps selected for the honor.

"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 going to 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."

While Worl doesn't consider herself a skateboarder, she said Trickster Company started off as a skateboard painter.

"Rico (her brother) started it in 2010 and he was hand painting skateboards to sell his art to 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."

"Trickster Company promotes innovative Indigenous design focused on the Northwest Coast art and exploration of themes and issues in Native culture," according to its website. During the pandemic, the business transitioned from its downtown 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 (2021) 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 knock-off 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."

She said her brother received 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 last week. "It will be rewarding once I do."

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."

The Art of the Skateboard Forever stamps will be available for purchase at post offices and online at USPS.com after the release on March 24.

 

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