If your RES 2013 conference program is dog-eared from four days of heavy use, then you’re already intimately familiar with the designs of husband-and-wife team Travis and Kristy Komacheet. The couple owns and operates Intertribal Visions Unlimited, and their art has become part and parcel to the public image of the NCAIED and RES.
Travis, Comanche, got his start in art as a child.
“I was one of those ADD kids, you know, a lot of energy,” he said. “My mom would sit me down in church and give me a notebook and a pencil, and I would just draw. When I was little, it was like … a hard life, a real hard life, and art and music was my escape.”
Travis and Kristy met 22 years ago (they joke that Kristy is only Comanche when she’s pregnant), and for a while they primarily explored music together. He played guitar and she played bass in a hard rock band that toured with regional and national acts, until they started a family and realized the rocker lifestyle was no longer a good fit.
At the same time, they were developing their artistic aspirations – and about 10 years ago, they found a bolt of inspiration from Native Style Design, a company run by fellow husband-and-wife team Gary and Carmen Davis.
“We saw what they were doing and we were very impressed by it – inspired by it. We decided to go ahead and say, ‘Hey, we can do a different take on contemporary Native art.’ And not only with the apparel, but you can see that we do a lot of canvas and posters and other stuff,” Travis said, gesturing around his colorful booth in the American Indian Artisan Market.
Eventually, Travis got the chance to meet Gary Davis, at an Indian Country Business Summit several years ago.
“I really wanted to meet him; I was very impressed. I gave him man props,” Travis recalls, laughing. “Mr. Davis and I developed a business relationship. That’s when we were first starting, and I was very, very stoked.”
The Komacheets started by providing designs for Native Style, and the relationship blossomed in new ways when Davis was named President and CEO of the National Center last year.
“That was huge,” Travis says. “Since then, it’s kind of blown up for us. It was just Kristy and I for three straight years, and we were struggling. Now we have a crew of seven.”
The artistic couple enjoys the backing of the Comanche Nation back home, as well as other tribes.
“We do work for a lot of other tribes,” Travis says. “We also embrace the idea of doing work for so-called competition. In real world business, people don’t do that. You don’t provide a web site for your competitor; you don’t provide designs for a competitor. We do. What I believe – what we believe – is that we’re out here to make us all look good.”
Travis and Kristy say they’ve missed their kids on this trip; it’s their first event without Olivia, 15, Jaidah, 7 and Elijah Greyston, 36 months. But they’ll be returning home with plenty of stories to tell, and many new connections.
“We just got an offer to do a TV show for The Learning Channel,” Travis said. “We’re embracing every opportunity that feels right for us.”