Karl Jim

Director of Brand Management
Navajo Nation Gaming

Karl Jim, Diné/Navajo, from Crownpoint, New Mexico is a Visual Communications graduate from Northern Arizona University. In 1999, he launched the design firm 21Native. After 10 years of freelancing, he was hired by Navajo Gaming as their first graphic designer and currently serves as the Director of Brand Management.

Get to know Karl

Tell us about a project or accomplishments from the past 10 years that had a major impact on your life or career.
Working with the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise since 2009. In less than 10 years, we designed and built four successful casinos from the ground up on the Navajo Nation, created over 7,425 direct, indirect and induced jobs with an overall economic output of over a billion dollars. Awarded AAA’s coveted Four Diamond at Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort, integrated Navajo Culture through architectural nuances. Worked with various professionals, local artists to create an atmosphere showcasing Navajo Art & Design. Recently, developing a Travel Plaza opening in the late fall that will showcase new products to the southwest region. It certainly has helped me diversify my professional portfolio, not only as a designer but has helped me grow as a person in general.

What is your favorite color, and why?
My favorite color would be Pantone 2391 C. Maybe it’s the Virgo in me that likes a bit of Sapphire and maybe it’s the Navajo that loves Turquoise.  Mix the two together and got something close to Pantone 2391.

What keeps you going when you’re focused on a project? Is there a particular saying or song that gets you moving?
Seeing the completion of the project. Also seeing the satisfaction or the reaction when they see their project completed. Those moments are priceless for me, regardless if I am compensated or if the project was pro bono. There are several sayings that have stuck with me throughout the years: “Quality over quantity.” “Work hard, play hard.” “Taking Care of Business” “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” and “What you think about expands.”

What’s your superpower, or one you wish you had?
Hmmm, I’m not sure if it’s a superpower, but being in the right place at the right time.  Timing is everything.

What design or career advice would you give to your younger self?
Less procrastination for sure.  Read and explore the world more.

If you were given the opportunity to see into the future, what would you want to know?
I would like to know how we, the people, have evolved.  Are we better as people?

How do you think design impacts your everyday life? The community?
Design impacts just about everything in my life.  As a designer, it certainly impacts my life.
Consciously and unconsciously, advertisements on TV, print, and digital are rated and reviewed. I look at identities and begin to dissect and wonder how each was created. I’m inspired and sometimes discouraged by this process. Lately, my teammates are seeing and recognizing the brand identity process, which has been a sense of relief in a way. As a community, design is always evolving and it seems that people, in general, are embedded with the sense of evolving design into everyday systems.

If you hadn’t ended up in the career you are in, what do you think you’d be doing?
The inner comedic side of me says exotic dancer, but the ambitious part of me says an architect if I weren’t so bad at mathematics.

See Karl on the Diversity & Inclusion panel Saturday, October 12 at the PHXDW Evolve Design Conference.