We had the good fortune of connecting with Dustin Lopez and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Dustin, what role has risk played in your life or career?

Take risks and take them often on a variety of levels. Recently I decided to retire as a firefighter and dive into my creative career full-time as an artist and designer.

Taking risks has landed me here to this interview. By taking the risk to give up a guaranteed paycheck is risking almost everything, but I’m not saying to take un-calculated risks. I definitely did my due diligence and homework before I decided to go out and do this full-time. At the end of the day you must ask yourself ‘will it provide you more fulfillment, or a step closer?’…. and if so then take that risk.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?

When I graduated from high school my mom gave me a card that had a math test from second grade. I got a 96%, and on the other side was a elaborate drawing filled with bunnies who are dressed as ninjas and surfing. To me it was her reminding how intelligent I was and how my imagination had no boundaries. *chuckles*

The point is just don’t forget who you are, where you come from and what you represent. I find myelf going back to my indigenous roots time and time again to remind myself and inspire the next series I am working on. Street art will always have a special place in my heart. Finding inspiration from the streets and combining it with my roots is always a fun dance. I love it, breathe it and can talk shop ALL day so I should stop before this answer becomes way too long, lol.

But seriously, reflect back on the things that provoked you to create in the first place. Its pretty fun and enlightening when you’re able to have those conversations with yourself.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.

I would definitely start downtown Roosevelt Row where the art of so many indigenous artists including Jesse Yazzie, Breeze, Dwayno Insano and a whole collection of other incredible artists leaving their mark. (Not to mention all the other other artists who are down there represented, so much amazing talent like el mac and kofie, who are all inspirations to me.) But because I know some of their stories and I’ve worked with these artists I can’t help but brag about knowing them, working alongside them and validating how dope they are as human beings.

Of course I would take them to a couple of hiking spots well you can see the city like Piestewa Peak, or North Mountain.

Outside of being creative I am a big sports person and depending on the season, I would prefer spring. Spring training would definitely be on the itinerary. With so many stadiums and teams coming into town one of my favorite things to do annually is attend as many games as I can.

As for dinning experiences. I would definitely show them Barrio Café, the Wilderness downtown beer garden, Hakiri Coffee, the Lux Central, Pepes Cafe and the Windsor.

Finally, I would introduce them to everybody I know at Cahokia, where I am a proud member of the first women led indigenous owned and operated tech space + gallery. There are a bunch of rad people with incredible ideas, businesses and solutions we face as Indigenous people.

A few other people would be Matt Fisher of provoke creative, Las palabras, Ivan Carreño, Tony Ce, Banna Tesfa, The Sagrado and Ava Jewelry.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?

I’m really glad you asked this question and I would like to dedicate this to be Shon Quannie. He was like an older brother, my mentor, my friend, a co-collaborator and a visionary. It’s been over just one year since he’s passed away and I miss his charm and gentle demeanor. He was always in my corner cheering me on. I didn’t realize he was talking to people about me and my talents as a creative. Shon was a great leader and model of what it means to be an Indigenous leader within your community – and that doesn’t mean where you’re from but sometimes being a leader in your industry or in your small circle can make a huge impact and for me that was monumental for my creative career.

Shon and I were Friends over social media for several years and we met a couple times while attending the same events but in 2019 he encouraged me to create a poster for an event that he was co-collaborating with in an attempt to recognize and showcase all of the amazing Indigenous designers and artists in the Phoenix area. After submitting my poster I remember him telling me the reaction from him and the other members from the committee. I’ve never felt so proud of my work being able to emotionally move such creative giants. In that conversation he assured me that I belong here representing and being a voice for the Indigenous creative community. I can only hope that I make him proud as I do my best to pick up the torch and infect anyone and everyone with inspiration, encouragement, positive influence and laugh.


Website: Dopez.design (design portfolio)

Instagram: @dus10lopezart

Facebook: Dus10lopez

Other: Dopez.design (design portfolio) Briggslettering.com (developing now) Nomorestolensisters.org (developing now) Indigedesign.org Cahokiaohx.com

Image Credits
Photo of me by the lake is by Adon Madrigal. All other photos are taken by me.

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.