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.

About the Author

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Hi! I'm a graphic designer, photographer and female person. I live in Minneapolis with my husband Alan and our baby son Alexander and baby cat Arya.


Design, News

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