"Each project I take on I want it to be a portfolio piece," Red Corn said. "With each project, I take to it the same intensity and want the next one to be better than the last."
The new look of Native advertising
Red Hand Media took off when it landed a contract in 2006 with the Native American Rights Fund. The contract was to rebrand the 38-year-old non-profit Native law firm to help it re-emerge into Indian Country's consciousness. The firm's slogan, "Modern Day Warriors," was coined by Native journalist Jodi Rave in the 1980's when she worked for NARF.
Crystal Echohawk, NARF's assistant director of development, said the firm asked Red Corn to work with that. The firm was looking for a fresh and sophisticated feel.
"My favorite always will be his Sitting Bull," Echohawk said. "It was the first one he came out with and it's Sitting Bull in a suit; and that design to this day, when I'm working with Ryan and he asks me what I think and I say, ‘I'm sorry, Ryan, but this one will always be my favorite.'"
NARF budgeted approximately $24,000 for the campaign and raised more than $104,000 with the help of Red Corn's design.
"We just got such a tremendous national response," Echohawk said. "We got calls from Hollywood asking if they could run the ad and they even said, ‘We'll run it for free.'"
Red Corn's designs are a modern take on Native culture and often have a youthful but sophisticated look that is cross-generational, Echohawk said. Red Corn has worked with NARF ever since the ad campaign that he did for the organization received critical acclaim. He has created similar campaigns using Geronimo, Chief Joseph and current NARF president, John Echohawk. The next one features a Native woman.
"His unique gift is through his design—he's just an incredible talent in terms of recognizing the type of messaging that resonates in Indian Country," said Crystal Echohawk. She said his designs "get to the root of Native identity in a very fresh and contemporary way. It's gotten to such a nice point, he understands our work. It's not a lot of push and pull with him. He's really helped us find our stride and make us look more professional."