Locals to Know: Meet Sa’dekaronhes Esquivel, a local Mexican-Indigenous digital artist

Seattle Restored revives Seattle neighborhoods with creativity and commerce, calling on local artists and entrepreneurs to reinvigorate our city by activating empty storefronts. These pop-up and art installation activations benefit neighborhoods, small businesses, artists, and property owners by creating vibrant and engaging streetscapes that encourage the public to visit downtown Seattle and support local businesses and artists – particularly Black, Indigenous, and other entrepreneurs and artists of color.

We’re excited to introduce you to Sa’dekaronhes! (📸: Growing Boy Media)

Tell us about your artistic focus.

I have been a professional illustrator and concept artist in the game industry for about 20 years. My primary focus is in Indigenous Futurism, video games, comics, tabletop role-playing games, and pop culture art.

I’m working to expand the imagination of what falls under the definition of “Native Art” because I believe that relying solely on an anachronistic past doesn’t leave room for the growth of our culture. Native/Indigenous people have ALWAYS been adaptable. We are a product of our environment and culture, and it’s impossible to not reflect the impact that pop culture has had on Native people. We exist NOW, not in some idealized past, and we like what we like. That’s why I do what I do.

The other half of Rising Sons Media, Deyorhathe. (📸: Growing Boy Media)

What’s a project you’re working on and how can our readers help you with it? 

During the pandemic, my brother and I started a business, Rising Sons Media LLC, and our merch brand Blanket Dooras an opportunity to financially support ourselves and our mom. The Seattle Restored Market is giving us the opportunity to share my art with the larger Seattle community, and to be able to share our Dad’s art after he passed in 2014. Our business is named after his powwow drum group, Rising Sons. He had asked us to carry on the name, and so we are.

Being part of the Seattle Restored Market has provided a more stable financial footing, but we’re still very much on the edge of homelessness. If the readers would like to support us, that would be amazing and go a long way to providing the stability we’re working for. For the majority of these last three years, we’ve had to brute force our way through every opportunity. We have done everything we have without any backing or grant money.

What’s the most rewarding part of your artistic pursuits? 

Most of my art career has been spent behind the scenes, working as part of collaborative efforts, like game development, so people don’t know who I am. Having my own business allows me to put my ideas in front of a larger community rather than just the niche I’ve been working in. It has also allowed me the flexibility to work on projects with other Indigenous creatives that I may not have had the opportunity to work with before. Seeing the projects we’ve worked on in hand has been the most rewarding part.

What are you looking forward to this year?

Currently, I’m serving as Art Lead for an Indigenous-owned game studio, Achimostawinan Games, and we will be releasing Hill Agency: Purity/decay. This project is shipping on Steam and Itch.io at the end of March. I can’t wait for people to be able to see it.

I’ve also contributed to Native comic anthologies, Moonshot Vol3, and A Howl: An Indigenous Anthology of Wolves, Werewolves, and Rougarou from Native Realities Press; and worked with Coyote and Crow the TTRPG, which was created here in Seattle. I just got back from being a featured guest at the IndigiPop Expo at First Americans Museum in Oklahoma. So I’m looking forward to more opportunities to make cool stuff with cool people!

What brings you most alive about working or living in Seattle? 

Seattle has always provided the opportunities to put my work out on a larger stage. I grew up on the Colville Confederated Tribes Reservation, but belong to different nations, so that sense of being an outsider really clicked in Seattle. I don’t know if it’s the fact that so much nature still exists in the city or just the vibe of the city, but I’ve always felt like I belonged here.

If you could give any one piece of advice to locals, what would it be?

Get out of your neighborhood, and explore everywhere! There’s so much talent to be found everywhere in Seattle. Especially in the least expected places.

What’s your favorite Seattle Restored pop-up or art installation and why? 

I haven’t been able to see as many as I would have liked, but I really enjoyed the Holiday Market. My mom was a fan too.

Check out his favorite Seattle memory and more over on the Seattle Restored blog.

By The Evergrey Creative Studio
The Evergrey Creative Studio helps clients big and small engage locals, through campaigns that use creative marketing, storytelling, events, and activations to build community, conversation, and impact.