Cherokee Nation Communications
graphic design lead Dan Mink displays a design concept in
the works. The depiction shows a southeastern style figure
The 2021 Cherokee National
TAHLEQUAH When one drives around the Cherokee Nation reservation
and CN-owned properties, you may notice artistic signs and graphics
as well as the annual Cherokee National Holiday poster art.
This is the work of CN Communications graphic design lead Dan Mink.
I started working here in August of 2005, he said.
I started actually doing contract work in 2004, and I honestly
dont know how many projects I have done. I was the only graphic
designer here for a long time. I have folders on the computer well
into the terabytes on the hard drive.
Mink said he was interested in art growing up but didnt have
formal training or education.
All I knew was that I liked to draw. Thats all I knew,
really, just drawing stuff, he said. I drew mostly contemporary
things that were around me. I never really did traditional Indian
art. Id draw cars, airplanes and trucks, stuff like that.
That was the extent of my art education until later in life.
He said he was on disability a lot until he was 27 years old. It
was then he decided to do something to improve his life and quit
utilizing disability benefits.
I went back and got my GED
in spring of 1990. A couple
of weeks later, I was at (Oklahoma State University Institute of
Technology) Okmulgee looking at their graphic design program,
he said. Thats all I ever liked to do is art, and Ive
always been fascinated by commercial art so I wanted to see if could
get into that. It looked like a lot of fun so in the fall of 90,
I enrolled in the program.
While at OSU IT, he said he fell in love with artists such as Claude
Monet and Edouard Manet, but his art is mainly commercial rather
The 2019 project Rising
Together is one of Communications graphic design lead
Dan Minks favorite designs in his tenure at the Cherokee
Im not a traditional artist; Im a graphic designer,
he said. I do work commercially. Its a job but I love
it. It is a job and Im expected to produce. Artists can take
you have certain freedoms, but you have
to see the bigger picture. What does this art say to the outside
world about the Cherokee Nation?
Each year, Mink designs the official artwork for the Cherokee National
Holiday as well as other themed projects. He said the creative process
is easier when a theme is established.
As far as the holiday goes, its a theme. Thats
all I want to know is, Whats the theme? so I can
start going through the process of what best visualizes that theme,
he said. Sometimes Ill get input on what ideas can be
incorporated about what the theme can symbolize. Thats always
helpful. The more people put input, the better for me.
He said hes worked on countless projects while working at
the CN but never really thought of what the projects meant until
a 2019 project called Rising Together.
Before I never really gave it any thought of what people
would see in my art, he said. I was asked What
does this mean? What does this symbolize? and I just said
cause I like it. So then I started to think about what
I was doing. What exactly am I trying to achieve, why do I want
this element? That one (Rising Together) has a lot of
Minks work is seen by thousands of people every day. From
signs around the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex to the annual holiday
artwork. Mink said few pieces out there has his signature on it,
but one might say he developed the most recent CN brand by the consistency
and conformity of his designs.
If I hadnt been here, Id be just another face
in graphic design land, he said. It hadnt really
sunk in about the branding and the southeast designs, but Im
glad I played a part in that revival
on the southeast art to
make people aware that we do have a style and its not just
plains and southwest art that I grew up seeing. If Im known
for the branding guy, then so be it I guess.