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The Message Stick – Identity & Resilience

The Message Stick

What we do is not learned or taught… It’s lived, it’s in our blood! It’s our identity!

Pat Caruso Pat Caruso, founder and director of We Create Print Deliver, is, first and foremost, an Eastern Arrernte First Nations Graphic Designer and Artist. GSM talks with Pat about his unique story in search of his bi-cultural identity.

Pat’s journey to reconnect with his Eastern Arrernte roots is a powerful testament to identity and resilience. Especially when we consider how it was disrupted by his mother’s removal in the 1950s. Through his business and art, Pat has bridged his personal and community identity. He brings unique insights into negotiation, influenced by his rich cultural heritage and personal experiences. Pat’s story demonstrates how we can find strength in adversity, using it as a foundation for growth and success in both personal and professional spheres.

A career based on storytelling

A born creative, Pat is a sought after First Nations artist. He creates unique pieces using both painted medium and digital techniques. He is also an experienced marketer and business owner, who has built a career based on storytelling. A tradition passed down through his mother and his connection to culture.

‘In First Nations culture, story and song lines are how communication is handed down from generation to generation. It has been part of my bloodline for thousands of years,’ 

Caruso explains, ‘If you look across Australia, there are elements of the Dreaming. They appear from Queensland all the way to Western Australia, across 350-odd languages. The stories cross language barriers. And telling stories, and the significance of these traditions, still has a place in today’s world. My mum is a lecturer who tells stories about her life and culture. So, as we grew up she was always passing on the foundation of our culture without even realizing. I now take it into my life and work every day. Everybody has a story to tell, and I now get to tell them through my art.’

Walking between Two Worlds – Bi-cultural Identity

In 2015, Pat left his role at a highly regarded advertising agency to start his company, We Create Print Design Deliver. It all started when he realised the significance his personal and professional experience would have for businesses, particularly those owned by Indigenous people.

‘At different stages in my life, when I was around certain people, I couldn’t be Aboriginal. I had to be aware of when to say certain things and when not to. So the conversation didn’t become awkward. Walking between two worlds makes you specially qualified in the field of communication. It is particularly significant in today’s professional world, where businesses are looking for messages which are cross-cultural and can speak to everybody.’

Honouring his Cross-cultural Identity

Pat strongly identifies with his Eastern Arrernte heritage and the Sultan family. Over the past two decades, he has dedicated himself to reconnecting with his roots, communities, and clients. It has been a profound journey of knowledge sharing and reflection. Through We Create Print Deliver, Pat is building a legacy that honours his cross-cultural identity. He passionately engages with a diverse range of industries daily, including Defence, Retail, Not-for-Profit, and Food and Beverage.

BLKSPCE—Community Sustainability

Pat’s overarching goal is to create a supportive environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses. He aims to facilitate their growth beyond initial stages. His vision involves offering unwavering support by acting as a conduit, and fostering connections between black and white businesses in a culturally sensitive manner. In pursuit of this mission, Pat has taken a significant step to substantially expand his efforts. He has acquired a purpose built facility to instigate long-term and generational change within the First Nations business community. Named ‘BLK SPCE’, this facility is poised to become more than just a building. It will be a dynamic hub serving as a meeting space, a collaborative workspace, and a safe haven for individuals from all walks of life. The establishment of BLK SPCE reflects Pat’s commitment to providing a platform that transcends mere infrastructure, aiming to foster an environment where indigenous businesses can truly flourish.

Crows 2022 Indigenous Guernsey

Caruso brought his expertise to the design of the AFL Adelaide Crows 2022 Indigenous guernsey. It highlights the coming together of the men’s and women’s teams on their reconciliation journey, as well as acknowledging the impact that the many members of the Crows family have left on the Club since 1991.

‘The male and female hands which make up the wings of the Crows are equal parts of the bird. This shows the equality and recognition of both teams. When you have equality and recognition, other things follow. This guernsey has allowed me to engage with my peers in the community and represent them, so I really want to do them and my family justice.’

Family is my Identity

Family is at the core of Caruso’s story. This includes his children Antonio, 8, and Aubrey, 3, who proudly wear the guernsey their father designed. ‘For them, that connection to culture is just a normal part of their lives. They don’t realise how significant it is and how much we, as their parents, are mindful about making it part of our day-to-day life,’ explains Caruso. ‘At school and at home, their culture is celebrated. It is something we want them to feel really proud of. Growing up, I had a totally different experience. But my struggle and understanding doesn’t compare to Mum, who was taken away from her family and culture as part of the Stolen Generation. Mum’s work to reconnect has made things easier for me to engage, and now I am making it easier for my children. They now get to start their own story.’ 

GSM would like to thank Pat for providing his thoughts to us for The Message Stick.
If you would like to continue this discussion on culture please contact

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to lands, waters, and communities. We pay respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
cultures, and to Elders past and present.

This article was originally published in GSM22. To read this and other great articles purchase this issue here.