Hope Gamble mural

Dreamstarter Creative Hope Gamble – Inspiration through Art

Hope Gamble (Diné) of Nazlini, Arizona, was just 14 years old when she was selected as one of the youngest Running Strong for American Indian Youth® Dreamstarters in 2019.

That year’s Dreamstarter theme was Entrepreneurship, and she used her $10,000 grant to pursue her dream of H.O.P.E. (Heroes of Positive Endurance), intended as a way to create new Navajo Nation creation stories in the form of comics to be sold in local stores.

“The comics will address the old monsters with new faces that kids my age face today in my own anime style,” she told us in her 2019 Dreamstarter application. “I hope to create comic books to sell that may one day also be used in classrooms on my reservation. I also would like to conduct art workshops in local elementary schools.

“I have friends that are emotionally unstable, and they don’t know where to take that out on,” she told us. “They don’t know how to cope with these feelings other than harming themselves.  When I tell them about my story about how I use art to cope they start to find their own methods to cope. This program has really given me the confidence to talk with anyone about their feelings and to give them some art supplies to work with.”

After attending the Running Strong for American Indian Youth® Dreamstarter Academy, where she met Running Strong national spokesman Billy Mills, along with her nine fellow Dreamstarters, Hope said her life has been transformed.

Hope’s passion is to draw characters she makes up and put them in a storyline.

“I love to draw, and I love to role play,” she says. “My stories are inspired by my love for anime, which is Japanese-style film. Comics are a way of putting both of them together.

“When we moved back to the Rez (from Farmington, New Mexico, where she had lived most of her life), I learned a lot more about my Navajo culture. I did not understand what that meant until I moved to the Navajo Reservation,” she said. “It is very different here, but I like it. 

“I want to make comics about the creation stories and make new stories using my talent for drawing.”

“In Navajo creation stories, the characters were not like real people but magical characters who could transform themselves or have magical powers.

In 2023, Hope applied to Running Strong for a $2,500 Dreamstarter Creative grant to help her continue to pursue her dream “to express my passion for where I am from through my artwork.

“I paint and draw animals, plants, and people that surround me on the Navajo motherland. We are fortunate enough to live where we emerged as Diné people. The beauty here can keep any artist busy for many lifetimes. I hope to capture and share what I hear, see, feel, and taste all around me within the world.”

        “We must live smarter with old traditional values and new technology for necessary energy needs. I hope that my new paintings will give the world a look into what we have to deal with and why everything here needs to be protected from further damage.”

In June, Hope reported that she used her Dreamstarter Creative grant to help fund her small business, Sbugs Designs. This helped her garner attention as a younger artist and enabled her to travel to share her work with more people.

“Before this grant, I had to deal with many restrictions concerning my ability to travel to any art show. I was set back by the number of art shows I couldn’t attend. As a younger artist with a small business, it was hard to find customers.

“Now, with this grant, I can attend the art shows that I couldn’t before. This grant has benefited me with a variety of customers and provided me with even more opportunities for my future endeavors.”

Hope acknowledged that she faced many challenges and learned valuable lessons through trial and error on how to best market her artwork.

“We figured out that smaller art shows on the Navajo reservation worked better for our target audience,” said Hope. “We also improved our marketing in other ways such as revising paper pamphlets to hand out at these shows, our social media apps, and creating a new setup to sell.

Hope garnered growing recognition this past year.  “The more shows I went to, the more people recognized who I am by name and my art style” and gaining new customers for orders and even commissions.

“I plan to use this past year as a learning experience to carry on with me in my future endeavors as a small artist in my business. To be more specific, I plan to put up my paintings in more places to inspire other Native artists.

“My family and household have thoroughly benefited from this grant, as it has helped me grow my small business as an artist into an actual business.

“Now I am actually of the age to help my family with bills for groceries and utilities.”

And to the supporters of Running Strong who help make all our Dreamstarters programs a reality, Hope says:

“I want Running Strong and all of your donors to know that I have made some great successes at the beginning of my career thanks to you.

“Thanks to you, I was able to be put in so many big art exhibitions in the name of a young Native Artist, such as at the Navajo Nation Museum.”

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