Introducing Northerly


As I’ve documented recently, I’ve been filling my non-working days with personal projects. Sharpen the ol’ skills, you know? Learn new tricks, etcetera.

I have to say, it’s difficult to be a talented, passionate designer and still be unable to find a good job that can put my skills to use. That’s been getting me down a lot. And then a couple weeks ago I was at REI to get Alan a (last minute, oops!) valentine’s gift (I got him socks and a S’well thermos because we sexy like that) and was browsing a shelf near the checkout that had a few stacks of pretty magazines with lots of photos of outdoor pursuits and travel adventures. As I was skimming through one of them, I had an idea to go home and just play around with some layouts using my own photos. Make a little magazine mockup for fun. So I did, and I had fun making a fake magazine cover, with a fake name, and trying all the different photo set ups, and doing character styles, and, and.

Before I knew it, I had decided that I was going to do this for real. The prospect didn’t even seem daunting. Start a magazine? How hard could it be? I already have a designer, ME, and I’ve worked on publications before, so I totally know exactly how to run one. If I dig into my own pockets, I can get them printed, and then I’ll find people to sell them. On the surface I believe it really is that simple, but since then I’ve realized just how many moving parts there are to something like this. To market it, I need to have a website, a place to sell it from, and an instagram, and facebook! I gotta get the word out if I want it to actually sell. All that stuff is kinda scary.

But I also know people, lots of writers, who I can go to for submissions or story suggestions. And Instagram is a hotbed of talented photographers all trying to get themselves out there (with varying degrees of success).


But I’m getting ahead of myself. I read articles like this and thisOne thing that was reassuring is that it didn’t seem as crazy as it sounded. I decided that the success of this venture would be determined by what I really wanted out of it, and really all I want is to create something beautiful and if a few people get enjoyment and satisfaction from it, then I’m happy. And I told Alan recently “I’m going to put my heart and soul into this. It’s going to be a print magazine. And if I only manage to put out a couple issues before I burn out or it becomes unsustainable, then that’s OK.” I thought of an angle, a journal for life in the North, and a name, Northerly. Not only could I capitalize on an ever-growing movement in Minnesota to rebrand as “The North”, but it’s also a topic I know about. I know about living up here, because I’ve done it my whole life.

I realized I was really sick of being disappointed in where my career was at, and I had to bring the work to myself. And I also realized that I may actually be well suited for this kind of undertaking. Sure, I’m not an editor, but I was raised by two journalists, and worked at a newspaper, on an “alt-weekly” (that’s not what we called it but that’s kind of what it was) so I have a feel for the editorial process. And editorial design is my passion, which sounds so dorky, but it’s super true.


I created a website through Squarespace and got an email set up. I took my outdoor photography instagram account, these__trees, which was dormant anyway, and deleted everything and made it the official IG account for Northerly. I went to work on a grid that looked professional and design-y (and stood out from other photos on peoples’ feeds), and threw in some hashtags and slowly people started following. I put the word out to my Socality pals, many of whom travel all over the place.

It’s slow building, but so far I’m stoked as hell that people are responding well to it. People are actually submitting pitches, which is *wild*. It’s all I ever could have hoped for. It’s got me thinking down the road a bit. I will probably need a marketing person at some point, maybe a co-editor, maybe even a social media designer. But, this is way down the road.

If you are reading this and want to write about what “northern living” means for you, well heck, get on it! The deadline for the fall (and first) issue is June 1st.

A Fun Branding Exercise!


I haven’t known what to blog about lately. I’ve been in kind of an occupational rut, an the theme of winter has been cold, and sick baby home from daycare. So I haven’t had a lot of time to center myself and get stuff done. This last week in particular I had baaaaaad depression so, yeah, I’ve been in a rut.

So on Monday morning, after a weekend of feeling miserable and useless I decided to do something different – to get the creative juices flowing, to teach myself some new things, to make something for my portfolio. I’ve long felt that design is design – the principles can be applied across all media, and you know what, my portfolio should just show potential employers/clients that, right??? Theoretically, yes? In practice – not really. I shouldn’t expect people to look at my website and think “yes, she’s good at this kind of design work, so she must be good at all other design work.” Now that I think of it, I mean, I literally was expecting people to have those thoughts.


So, I decided to go nuts and take on a packaging project – which turned into a full-on exercise in branding a product from start to finish. A line of skin care products appealed to me, and I brainstormed some names til I came up with “Boreal Botanicals” which allowed me to find inspiration in the cold, stark, beautiful landscape and geography of Iceland. Icelandic skin care seemed really natural from there. Volcanic ash, lush geothermal valleys – the blue lagoon? Totally made sense.


Obviously a project is 1000% more fun when you’re your own client, and you have zero constraints. It takes the pressure off for sure. And obviously this is not reflective of real-world design work. Still though.

I got a fantastic mockup bundle from CreativeMarket, my go-to for all my assets. Was pretty cool to come up with the names of products too (like “Glacial Facial”, and “Andlit” and “Líkami” which mean “face” and “body”, respectively, in Icelandic).

After I had started doing the packaging, and I was feeling energized and inspired, I thought to round this project out I ought to make a website design to go with it. I have only one experience with website design, and it was… Fine. But I’ve really wanted to do a COOL website design for a long time, but didn’t feel I had any opportunities. Welp!


Turns out front-end web design is actually super easy if you know how to use a 16-column grid.Products1From start to finish this project took about a day. I’m so fond of it, and I’m so bummed that it’s already finished! I may do 5 or 6 explorations of this sort. Or I dunno, 9 or 10 or 20? This is the kind of stuff that made me want to become a designer.

Fonts: Gotham Bold + Light, Chloe


Motherhood Made Me a Better Artist

NORTHSHORE-49Life is uncertainty. For me, I’ve always tried to pretend I was a person who knew what I was about. Over the years people have asked me what kind of designer I want to be, what kind of job I ultimately want. I always had a different answer. “I want to do album covers”; “I want to be an Art Director of a Magazine”; “I just want to design.” Creativity has always come easily to me so I never really imagined putting in the work to focus on any one of these ambitions. I kind of went where my career took me, from poster designer to layout editor to quasi-Art Director to Social Media designer to nothing to Freelancer.

It’s the “nothing” period in my career that I think particularly shaped me. That would’ve been the time between when I ended my contract at General Mills and Alexander went to day care. For about 17 months I had no job, no income, and very few opportunities to create.

But it strengthened my creativity more than any other job could’ve. Absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder, but in my case it also made it more skilled. It’s like something clicked in my brain, or maybe my batteries just needed to be recharged. I feel an artistic instinct moreso now than ever before. It’s more focused and the style is refined, but I’m also more disciplined and detail-oriented too. I’m even more principled, by being firm on pricing and passing on jobs that couldn’t pay enough. I’m at a stage now where I don’t have to work for exposure if I don’t want to.


Since coming back from “maternity leave” I’ve had a handful of really cool clients and done some work I would put up there as my best, and one of my goals this year is to blog more about design, so I’ll start by rounding up recent work:WG_covergifWG_inside7

I art directed this big printed winter guide for GoMN. I’d never made a style guide before, or design something of this magnitude totally from scratch, but it was an amazing rediscovery of skills and taught me about who I am and what I want from projects. Full autonomy and a really supportive and willing collaborator (in this case, the editor Reed Fischer).


I was approached by the wonderful jeremy messersmith to design a souvenir poster for a January residency at Icehouse here in Minneapolis. It sort of fulfilled another goal of mine, which was to be sought out because of work I’ve done, not just because I’m a designer. (There’s still one more show if you’re in Minneapolis).


Through a combination of networking and just dumb luck (which is how 90% of design jobs happen) I ended up doing a listicle graphic for the website Stereogum… And then asked if I would do 10 more graphics for year-end content… Which ultimately ended up at 15 pieces. The editors over there were super open and game for whatever. I tried out a few new styles and even snuck some of my own photography in. And, not only was it a really cool opportunity but it came at a time where I was desperate for work (and a paycheck). MOMMUSICVIDS1PROTEST1

And of course I’m still doing my Transmission gig, which I’ve been doing since before I graduated college, since before I met Alan! I’m usually able to stretch on these and figure out new ways of doing things; pick up skills for later on. BOWIE4NYE2



Catching Up

ALEX_HOLIDAYS-15Boy I really fell behind in my blogging. With the holidays, and this little guy getting MAJORLY sick (more on that below). So, I still have to do another post about my Alberta trip, I want to talk about my 2018 goals and a BUNCH of other blog stuff but for now I’m just going to do a photo dump from the holidays and a lot of little young sir, who somehow just keeps getting cuter and cuter. ✨


Over Christmas weekend, Alex came down with Hand Foot and Mouth Disease, which was absolute hell on us. He was in so much pain and covered in sores. It was too painful to eat or drink from a bottle for a couple days. I’m not even sure how we got through it! My parents came over and helped a lot the first two days, and Christmas Eve we went over there for dinner. Since HFM is viral you just have to wait it out, although the doctor we saw gave him antibiotics for possible strep (AND we alternated ibuprofen and tylenol ad nauseum) and that made it so he could at least eat a little and get some rest. But hooooooly shit were those first 48 hours difficult.

ALEX_HOLIDAYS-6ALEX_HOLIDAYS-8ALEX_HOLIDAYS-7Christmas day things were getting back on track. We went back to my parents house for our traditional breakfast.ALEX_HOLIDAYS-12ALEX_HOLIDAYS-19

Also, it was cold. Alex missed a week of day care while his blisters healed so we stayed inside allll week.I’m not as ready with the camera as I was when this dude was just a little stationary nugget. But he’s also doing a lot more interesting things now (and as I mentioned previously, is SO CUTE. OMG HIS LITTLE BLOND HEAD).ALEX_HOLIDAYS-24We also got the little guy a rocking horse for Christmas.ALEX_HOLIDAYS-29.jpgWhoaaaa how did I get all my favs into a pic? Swords, trees, vikings, Christmas, feminism, MY BOY? ALEX_HOLIDAYS-31😍ALEX_HOLIDAYS-32ALEX_HOLIDAYS-33ALEX_HOLIDAYS-34ALEX_HOLIDAYS-35On December 30 the Royce family gathered for Christmas dinner and gifts. The next day, NYE, Alan’s parents were in town and we went to the Swedish Institute to check out the holiday deco and grab lunch. It was actually a perfect time to go – the crowds were minimal. Maybe we’ll make an annual thing of it!

ALEX_HOLIDAYS-36ALEX_HOLIDAYS-37ALEX_HOLIDAYS-39ALEX_HOLIDAYS-40ALEX_HOLIDAYS-41ALEX_HOLIDAYS-43How sweet is this little gnome? For the Swedish Institute visit I made sure he was dressed head to toe (literally) in Swedish brands. Name, Hanna Andersson and H&M. These little skiing overalls are too good. ALEX_HOLIDAYS-45ALEX_HOLIDAYS-47.jpgALEX_HOLIDAYS-50ALEX_HOLIDAYS-54

Hope you and yours had a splendid holiday season. Looking forward to making some changes in this year!

Alberta, September 2017 – pt. 1


WOW – finally! I can’t remember the last time I had such a huge photographic undertaking and then waited so long to blog about it. Things have gotten in the way – actual paying freelance design gigs, parenting my child, DEPRESSION, etc. Despite the fact that I had such an amazing time taking these photos and also experiencing the real life moments happening around them, I felt very little motivation to edit them once I got back home.

First I feel like I need to back up and explain what this trip even was. Back in the summer I saw a post from an instagram account I follow talking about this camp happening in Alberta in September. I had at that point not had a job in over a year, had been exclusively breastfeeding and caring for a baby 24/7, and was feeling creatively restless and totally lost. You KNOW I love my baby Alex more than anything, but I’m also an artist and I needed to create. This camp – Socality Camp – was presented as a camp for creatives/entrepreneurs in the Canadian Rockies, which I felt was the most ideal place to have a creative re-awakening. I love the cold, I love mountains, I love outdoor photography, and I desperately craved the company of fellow artists, makers and more.

SOCALITY_LAYOUT2SOCALITY_LAYOUT3SOCALITY_LAYOUT4We did have to figure out a few things, like who would take care of Alex while I was away? As it happened, we were already sort of planning to enroll him in day care in September anyway so that would take care of the day-to-day. What about feeding? I was his ONLY source of milk at that point. Well, other things transpired leading up to my leaving – we got him started on formula (for an entirely different reasoning) so that was one less thing for Alan to worry about, and I didn’t have to stress out about what kind of breastmilk stores I was leaving behind, OR making on my trip (TMI? Maybe!).

So with all that squared away, I held my breath and bought two tickets; one for the plane and one for the camp. I’ll pause for a minute to acknowledge how PRIVILEGED and LUCKY I am that I was able to do this. I don’t for a second take for granted the good fortune I’ve had in my life, and this trip is more than proof of that. SOCALITY_LAYOUT5SOCALITY_LAYOUT6SOCALITY_LAYOUT7Anyway. Since this blog is so late, and I’ve already seen a ton of blogs from other attendees about the camp, I feel a little bit of pressure to do some EXTREME EDITING. I made an indesign document to layout my photos, because it gives it an editorial feel and allows me to feature a few photos at once in some cases. I thought “20 pages should help me reign it in” NOPE I have over 50. I can’t be anything less than what I am, man. This is my truth. So you’re getting two blogs however many blogs it takes!

SOCALITY_LAYOUT8SOCALITY_LAYOUT9SOCALITY_LAYOUT10I haven’t even really talked about what this camp even WAS, though. It was at a big ranch-style camp in remote Alberta – extremely off the grid. No cell reception, hardly even decent Wifi. There were guests and speakers and workshops, all centering about creativity – building your brand, working with other brands, finding your voice, etc. Some times we got to play around with actual product, photograph people ~whose actual jobs are being models on instagram~, and getting to pick the brains of Instagram “influencers” who regularly work with companies to create content, and a lot of whom travel around full time taking photos. That’s a dreamy life.

Above is Joelle Friend during a workshop on brand photography led by Garrett King

SOCALITY_LAYOUT13This trip was also my first encounter with the Northern Lights!!! The forecast said they’d be out at like 3 AM so I went to bed extra early so I could wake up at 2:45 (and pump milk in a weird fancy outhouse – let’s not forget I was pumping milk the ENTIRE trip) and get my tripod set up. Unbeknownst to me, the Aurora had come out already, at a much more manageable hour, while I was trying to get to sleep earlier and everyone else was still up. So. But, shrug, I still got to see them, and be in a little mini workshop with the super cool Tanner StewartHe had already shot the Aurora earlier that evening, but still came out to show us normies how it’s done. Such a mensch.

The people who were the de facto “leaders” of the camp I’m just sort of in awe of for their drive, but also for their generosity and patience to help people learn and become better at their crafts. That’s a noble undertaking. I’m really glad I got to meet some of them, even though I was sort of shy. I should work on that. SOCALITY_LAYOUT14I was going to say “the next morning” but it was actually like, an hour after we started shooting the lights, the camp boarded busses to drive the 3-some hours to Banff, to see the sunrise at Moraine Lake. It’s an iconic shot. Pretty sure it was an Apple default desktop at one point? As we arrived, there was kind of a scramble to get a good spot to shoot from. Most folks went on this big rock hill so I camped out on the rocky shore.

Inevitably, when you’re finally physically in a location that you’ve seen so many times in photos, some of the mystique is gone. I didn’t know what Moraine Lake looked like outside of that view. It’s actually pretty crowded, and there’s like, a gift shop 50 feet away.

SOCALITY_LAYOUT15I really dug Moraine Lake. The sun rose around ~8AM but for the most part stayed behind the mountains until noon. So it was surreal, walking up and down this spot which, while crowded, was still pretty remote, and if you walked far enough away, you could be totally alone. SOCALITY_LAYOUT16Despite the fact that I came on this trip to get to know people and bond with like-minded creatives, I was still a bit of a loner. Being 1 in 150 and trying to make deep personal connections in 5 days is a challenge. But most everyone I met was so kind and they all listened to me talk about how I had a baby at home and I was looking for a creative rebirth (haha, sorry). SOCALITY_LAYOUT17SOCALITY_LAYOUT18

Wendy, aka @nomadicfare.SOCALITY_LAYOUT19SOCALITY_LAYOUT20

Speaking of Instagram influencers I was kind of in awe of, Christian Watson, aka 1924 (who actually *deleted* his instagram recently, like a boss). His whole persona is something to behold, online but especially in person. I was way too intimidated to say hi to him almost the entire trip, but on our last night I got up the nerve and we chatted for a few minutes during a campfire dance party. He asked me about myself, and I asked him for a hug, which he obliged. I wonder if I’ll ever get a chance to meet him again?

Christian brought this cool Merrimack Canoe and Sanborn Paddles down to the lake and people started getting in the canoe and taking photos of each other with the mountains in the background. I initially witnessed this from a bench a ways away sipping my second latte (hey – when you come in contact with espresso for the first time in a whole two days, you lean in to that shit). I kind of thought it was funny at first, and wondered what the other tourists standing around would be thinking about – literally – 10 photographers huddled together taking pictures of a person in a canoe, not even paddling the canoe! I wrote about what happened next on Instagram and am not gonna try to phrase it a different way:

 The moment when it all clicked for me at @socalitycamp was when I was drinking my *second* latte at Moraine Lake. The sun takes a long time to come up over the lake after it’s risen and it sorta felt like we were in a snow globe — for a place so huge it felt small and contained. @1924us brought out a @merrimackcanoes canoe and a couple @sanborncanoe paddles and people started jumping in, paddling around and taking photos – practicing their craft, together. People on the shore packed in close together to get the perfect shot. The freewheeling collaborative effort shook something loose in me and I had to jump in. What I had been witnessing from afar I suddenly was a part of and I felt connected. To the people, the land, to my camera, and importantly, to myself. I felt at that moment that I could DO this kinda thing.

It’s cheesy but so true! I went to Alberta to feel more connected to my creativity and this one instance really busted open the floodgates. It was so special. SOCALITY_LAYOUT21SOCALITY_LAYOUT22@ScottBakkenSocality Founder


Part 2 coming later this week!

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