Originating from the Thule culture, the Iñupiat people migrated from the Bering Sea to what we know today as Alaska. Their community has received various threats over the years, such as starvation and epidemic, which influenced these people to further move to other parts of Alaska between 1890 and 1910. Yet, there are other issues that threaten their traditional lifestyle and the most notable of all is climate change. The Iñupiat people have managed to overcome various challenges but who knows if they can survive the warming trend in the Arctic? This is a question that worries us all, not just the communities living in the ice kingdom.

But let’s stick to the Iñupiat people, who managed to thrive in one of the harshest environments on the planet, guided by their strong values and a lifestyle and culture they knew how to nurture and adapt. These are the values that lie at the foundation of the Alaska natives and showed the way to these people throughout history. Yet, they are spotted receiving a modern treatment, as they reunite as shareholders of the Akima companies.

To celebrate the brand’s commitment to helping these people thrive, American agency Yes& and Turin-based design studio ILLO have joined forces and created a campaign that focuses on the impressive story of the Iñupiat people. According to them, it all started with a voice that nicely narrates the past, present, and future of this community. The audio story carries the viewer into these people’s ancestral times, while the visuals bring us into their modern moments.

In order to tell the story faithfully, the creatives focused mainly on the characters. “We opted for natural tones and warm textures to complement the strong, personal features of each character’s expression. Simple shapes outlined the characters’ silhouette and the traditional clothing — less ornate and more suited for the Alaskan winters,” claims the studio. Different types of textures were used to underline the looks of the clothing, while the lack of details is counterbalanced by the strong personality of each character.

As far as the colors and textures are concerned, the creatives focused mainly on conveying the overall feel of the way the story is being told. “We mixed neutral shades with an ILLO touch of pink and yellow for highlighting details, while also balancing realistic elements (such as the characters) with abstract and geometric symbols,” say the artists.

The frames were drawn by hand, using an iPad which allowed the creatives to connect the story of thousands of years of tradition with modern technology. This way, the artists succeeded in bringing a unique human touch to the software transition and video effects. The result is a video that carries these people’s legacy into present days, all surrounded by a mindful and creative approach.

All of the elements used in the video define the Iñupiat people’s lifestyle, be it character design, colors, textures, or environment. When viewed as an assemble, the landscape speaks about the lives and culture of these native people. So, let’s help them keep their values and traditions alive in these times that are difficult for each of us.


Client: Akima companies

Studio: illo.tv

Creative Direction: Ilenia Notarangelo

Illustration Lead: Arianna Cristiano

Animation Lead: Laurentiu Lunic

Character Design: Sofia Buti

Animation: David Cubitt

Agency: Yes&

Creative Direction: David Stone

Sound Design: YouTooCanWoo