Graham Constant

Pursuing Passions: Graham Constant Designs a Career and Skateboards He Loves

“Apply some of your passions to your career,” urges Graham Constant, who lives in Winnipeg where he does work he’s passionate about as a self-employed graphic designer and video producer. His very first job was a dishwasher but after getting his foot in the door, he’s been able to do work in his field. He did graphic design, video editing, web design, and marketing direction for the past ten years before starting his own business two years ago. So far business has been mostly steady with some ups and downs. His other venture is a skateboard brand he co-owns called 33, where he manages the team, content creation and art direction.

From an early age, Constant has been interested in art, drawing non-stop as a child then shooting and editing skateboard videos as he got older. From there, he started making websites and promoting content. After graduation, he took a year to decide what he wanted to do and where he wanted to go. He landed on a Winnipeg-based digital multimedia program to hone his craft in video production, animation, illustration, and web development.

His skills grew both in and out of the classroom. “I've attended a technical college and I received my diploma. But I feel like I learned more from my actual work experience along the way because my industry is software and technology based. A lot of the technical equipment and techniques we use in school, they're kind of outdated now so it's a matter of keeping up with the current standards and adapting to change,” he reflects.

While the technical side shifts constantly, the soft skills remain ever important. “Work experience teaches us things like communication skills, team building, working as a team, things like that. I found that very critical in my learning as a business owner,” he continues.

His advice for students thinking of leaving their home community is to make a solid plan and not to jump into something without being ready. “I clearly knew what I wanted to do. What I wasn't ready for were the changes of moving from the reserve to the city. I moved to Winnipeg without any knowledge of the bus systems, the schedules, where to go, how to get there on time, how to budget meals, school supplies, and rent, with recreation, meeting deadlines. I bombed my first year because I had to learn how to live in the city while learning advanced technical programs like 3d animation or JavaScript,” he recalls.

When he had a better plan in place and knew more about the practicalities of city life, he was able to focus on his studies and retake the courses he failed.  Outside of good planning, Constant reinforces the need to reach out to others and ask for help. “Your friends and family are there for a reason. If you're having a hard time, or if you need advice, don't be afraid to ask. If you don't understand something, ask twice. Learn to communicate with others clearly and you're going to make a lot of friends along the way through school. Some of these friends are going to be lifelong friends in your social group or your industries. Our industry is pretty small so that could branch out into opportunity, “ he recommends.

Illustration by Shaikara David

After high school didn’t offer opportunities to learn about Canada's colonial history in terms of the Indian Act, Indian hospitals,residential schools, the 60s Scoop, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, Constant learned about them during his time in the workforce. Without education in his culture and history, he felt at a loss to participate in important conversation about racism and colonialism. ”If you are a young Indigenous person, learn more about your culture, your language, where your people come from, and how this country has changed them over time, because then it'll help you understand a lot of the inner workings of the world we live in today,” he advises.

Going to school as an Indigenous person can come with challenges, and Constant has tips to navigate tough times. “If you are experiencing blatant racism within your institution, do a detailed report because it's better than just letting it fester and letting that continue within the institution that you are trying to get an education from. Whether it's from staff or students, it shouldn't be tolerated, especially with what we know now today, in terms of how Canada was founded,” he offers.

Growing up, Constant struggled with focus and feels like he had undiagnosed ADHD, which is why he picked and excelled at skateboarding. Being able to skate whenever or wherever he wanted, as long as it was dry and not snowy, appealed to him and his skills improved. He won competitions and traveled because he was so good at it. Constant was able to learn from what was engaging to him, but struggled to stay focused at school until he found teachers he could better relate to.

When he needs inspiration, Constant looks to the overall experience of doing something new, from traveling, cooking to creating, whether it’s a new project, clothes, or boards. “The idea of creating something new to me is always refreshing,” he beams. One such undertaking, creating 14 minutes of video from dozens of hours of footage, motivated him to try making something else new because of how well it was received and how satisfying it was to see the final product. He loves exploring different cultures, cities, communities, and foods, too.

The key thing for Graham Constant is pursuing his passions. “If you can find something that you love that you're passionate about, and you can apply that to work, then it doesn't really feel like work and it helps you get better at what you do and helps you actually love what you do. I think that's very beneficial to anybody who's trying to start a career in any industry,” he advises. He followed his own advice, applied some of his passions to his career and now he only looks back if the move he’s trying to do on his skateboard requires it.

Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.

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Key Parts

  • Career
  • Identity
    First Nations
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  • Province/Territory
    Manitoba
  • Date
    October 4, 2023
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  • Discussion Guide
    create to learn discuss

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