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!

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