Virgil Ortiz was born into Cochiti Pueblo in 1969. He learned the traditional art of making pottery from his mother, Seferina Ortiz, and he says now "The thought has never crossed my mind to be anything other than an artist and fashion designer. Art is in my blood."
When he was 14 years old he earned his first prize for pottery at the Santa Fe Indian Market. He was established as a successful working artist by the time he was 16. By then he was producing pottery and selling at several different shows.
He saved his money and started traveling with a friend: Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City. He got involved in the nightlife and saw many people with piercings and tattoos. Those piercings and tattoos reminded him of traditional Cochiti pottery figures produced in the 1800s. "I was inspired to create images of what I saw, it gave me a freedom knowing that I was not an innovator or even going outside of tradition, I was in fact a Revivalist," he says.
Virgil collaborated with designer Donna Karan in 2003, developing textiles patterned on his bold hypergraphic designs. In 2006 he established his own fashion line, Indigene.
Lisa Holt is Virgil's niece.