Eunique Yazzie’s journey toward recognizing her value as a designer hasn’t been easy. Growing up on the reservation and facing several layoffs early in her design career taught her how to live off little. So when she was finally ready to launch her own business, she learned that she didn’t know her value the hard way. And although she eventually made the decision to accept a salaried position rather than struggle with the insufficient income she was making through design projects, she doesn’t consider it to be a failure.
Eunique has been able to overcome challenges that would easily cause others to call it quits. She’s lost a job while pregnant, persevered through the digital takeover of the publishing industry, and she wasn’t afraid to resign from a job when it wasn’t taking her on own right path. Though it all, she’s found personal growth and has held on to her mission: to make sure Native stories are heard and respected in Phoenix and beyond.
Listen to this episode to learn about how Eunique is supporting her community through art and design, plus a lot more!
Eunique Yazzie grew up in Flagstaff, South Dakota and Chinle, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation. Her background brings cultural perspective and appreciation to her breadth of work and activism. Eunique is a poet and storyteller with the Mujeres Del Sol collective, served on the board of Emerging Arts Leaders Phoenix, and offers design services and creative consulting as the owner of Eunique Design. She has worked with Performance in the Borderlands, Jazz meets June, Tempe Center of the Arts, AZ Republic Media, Mesa Arts Center: Spark After Dark, NAU and ASU. She has also completed projects for Phoenix Indian Center, National Urban Indian Family Coalition, Washington State Indian Education Association, Poder in Action, Black Mesa Water Coalition, Movimeinto Borikua and many more.
What you’ll learn:
What Eunique’s childhood was like growing up both on and off of the reservation
Why she moved to Phoenix immediately after graduating high school
Why she chose to study graphic design at a trade school rather than a university
The culture shock Eunique and her native peers experienced during their early adulthood
Why Eunique had to make the difficult choice to distance herself from people who she originally through would support and empower her
How she experienced several layoffs earlier in her design career and what she did to bounce back from these career setbacks
The challenge Eunique has had getting raises and being compensated for her ideas and expertise
How she handled being unemployed while pregnant with her son
How Eunique survived the the rise of digital in a print-based publishing world
What it’s like being the last graphic designer on-staff after waves of massive layoffs
How she used systems and technology to manage a workload that previously took a team
How a stressful environment started taking hold on her health
How her second layoff helped her find the contemporary native artist community in Phoenix
Why she chose to take a new job at an engineering firm, and why it ultimately decided to leave after just 6 months
What inspired Eunique to start her own business (and why she wishes she had waited)
Why women of color often have to work harder than their peers to get noticed for their skills — and how that can ultimately lead to being taken advantage of in a work environment
The misogyny and racism that Eunique has faced throughout her life and in her career
The challenges she faced when she started her own graphic design business
Why she struggled to get clients (especially those in the Native community) to see her value
Her thoughts on why people need to embrace and share their cultural story
The displacement that Native and local artists experience in Phoenix, Arizona
How oppressive systems have impacted her ability to grow and sustain her business
Why Eunique’s problem with money has impacted her career trajectory
Why she believes that creating equity begins from the inside out
How cultural attitudes towards money can impact a child’s future
Why Eunique is glad that she’s no longer working as a designer during her day job
The importance of empowering young people of color through education
Connect with Eunique
Links, Opportunities & Resources
Catch Eunique, Amanda, and 3 other artists and designers of color at Phoenix Design Week for the “Culture Shift” panel on October 7th at 10:15 am! Click here for more info.
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