Meet the Artist: On Thin Ice

“When the opportunity to work with the San Diego Zoo arose, I couldn’t have been more pleased,” illustrator and graphic designer Nate Reifke explained. “This institution does so much to educate the public and raise awareness for the animals that accompany us on this planet. As a frequent visitor and lover of the Zoo, it has been a long-time goal to collaborate on a project, and Polar Bear Plunge was the right fit. I wanted to capture the spirit of the polar bears and show their vulnerability.”

Meet Artist Nate Reifke on March 26.

Nate recently served as creative director for the eco-conscious apparel company Mission Playground. Prior to that, he worked in the action sports industry as an in-house designer and illustrator for Sector 9 and Illenium Skateboards. Nate’s design for the re-opening of Polar Bear Plunge, titled “On Thin Ice,” is available on T-shirts, hoodies, caps, and totes in the Zoo’s Arctic Trader gift shop and online at

About his design, Nate says, “As the Earth warms and global change becomes more evident, people have begun to closely watch certain biomes and species. Polar bears have become a flagship creature for humankind to watch. In doing so, we have seen the reflection of ourselves and our actions. It seems fitting, therefore, that the bear should appear as an apparition rather than a solid figure. Its silhouette fades into the background as the icebergs that support its vitality resemble a dissipating paw print. As the Thin Ice text suggests, we as a planet are in a delicate situation. But it is not all doom and gloom. We have begun the good fight, and forging ahead while making smart choices in our lives and in our communities will continue the movement to live in a sustainable way to preserve these beautiful beasts.”

Nate will be at the grand re-opening of the Zoo’s Polar Bear Plunge on Friday, March 26, from Noon to 4 p.m. Come by to meet him and the polar bears that provided his inspiration.

View the various items featuring the “On Thin Ice” design…

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