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An artist in training

Chris Windeyer
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Dec 11/06) - Robert Eeseemailie is learning at least two of the skills an artist living in Iqaluit needs.

One is printmaking, and he's learning that from a good teacher. His father Gyta is well-known for his distinctive prints, which feature abstract depictions of traditional scenes.

"He's been doing (printmaking) for 15 years or more," Robert says, taking a break from working downtown offices with small Christmas cards in hand.

Robert is still trying to learn the form: he says cutting out the sketched figures is the hardest part. Each card takes about 20 minutes to make, but each print is unique, even if it's of the same scene. That's a personal touch Hallmark can't come near.

The other skill is getting out to sell the work. Buying art while at the office or the bar is a common experience for Iqaluit's worker bees. Both locations are equally fertile ground for selling prints, Robert says, and with Christmas around the corner, the job is made even easier.

"These prints and Christmas cards, they sell out fast," he said.

Robert said he'd also like to learn how to carve, but he's faced with what might the classic young artist's dilemma: he also wants to go back to school and eventually become a mechanic, since he's good with snowmobile engines.

Like a lot of young Iqalummiut, Robert is a hip-hop head, and a fan of Tupac Shakur, Jay-Z and Dr. Dre. Born in Iqaluit, he lived in Pangnirtung until he was five then moved back to the capital.

He's also been south to Ottawa for a few visits to relatives.

"I just like to see how it's like down there," he said.