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Cal Nez


Cal Nez, a Navajo from the Tachiinii Clan grew up in a hogan—on the Navajo Nation in Tocito, New Mexico.  He was raised by traditional grandparents who he credits for teaching him self-reliance and business sense by giving him a herd of sheep to tend when he was 12.  Nez applied those lessons to his present venture, a Salt Lake-based graphic design and advertising that creates materials like brochures, exhibits, advertisements and illustrations for books and posters. Nez considers himself an artist that works in communications.


Cal Nez Design has been in business for 34 years and is one of the longest running Navajo-owned businesses in the nation.  Its diverse past clients include AT&T, Smithsonian Institution/National Museum of the American Indian, the National Republican Party, Mike Leavitt for Governor Campaign, O. C. Tanner, 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, Amoco Oil, and many projects for the Navajo Nation. “I helped bring a whole new philosophy to the Navajo Nation; I changed the direction of design, print quality and integrity,’ he says.


Today, there are about 450-500 Navajo-owned business, according to Navajo Nation list data. Of those, only about 25 have been in business 10 years, and only approximately five businesses (Cal Nez Design being one of them) have been around longer than 10 years.


As a businessman, you’ve got to interact with people. Grandma Nez say, “Don’t be shy.” 


Any changes for our people would have to come from within.  We need to look within each of our individual selves.  We need to strengthen our own wings.  If a Navajo boy who grew up on the dirt floor of a hogan can make it in corporate America, certainly anyone with a belied in themselves can make it.


Cal Nez Design is a firm specializing in solving communication and marketing problems unique to the Native Americans through graphic design. We feel understanding the culture is an important ingredient to the success of any given design project. The firm is an award- winning design company with 100% Navajo Indian ownership.

We specialize in developing programs and design promotional materials for products and services, events, governmental services, information exhibits; in short, any situation which calls for effective communication. We place high emphasis on marketing potentials for each design rather than producing for the sake of fulfilling an immediate need.


The firm offers a complete range of design services from concept development through final delivery of products including: illustration, photography, art direction, copywriting, printing and fabrication supervision. We have extensive experience in the design and production of communication projects including brochures, annual reports, product literatures, exhibits, posters, advertisements, calendars, flyers, and packaging.

Cal Nez considers himself to be an artist first.  He holds the function and gift of being an artist in the world as a sacred obligation. "You must act on behalf of clients to ensure to art being created on their behalf speaks for the language to the world."

Cal has been painting for over 40 years in oil, acrylics for personal and commercial clients.

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