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Introducing Our Artist Series: A New, Stylish Collection Featuring Upper Peninsula-Inspired Designs is Now Available in Our Shop!

Since moving to northern Michigan, we’ve been blown away by the creativity, ingenuity and craftsmanship of the artists, designers, makers and entrepreneurs that call “Up North” home. When we started Life and Whim, we knew we wanted it to be a space to not only express our own creativity, but to showcase the multitude of talented people that call Michigan home.

We’re really excited to announce the launch of our new “Artist Series” and reveal the first of what we intend to be many creative collaborations.

Our new “UP Collection” is now available in our shop. This collection, which includes tops, bags and art prints, was designed by talented Upper Peninsula native Brittany Zeller-Holland of Two if By Sea Studios. The UP Collection pays homage to Michigan’s beautiful nature and wildlife and features Brittany’s “Treetop View” design (created exclusively for Life and Whim!).

When we were planning our artist collaborations, we knew we wanted our inaugural Artist Series collection to feature Brittany’s designs. We love Brittany’s work, and knew she would create something stunning and inspiring for us. We were first exposed to Brittany’s talent years ago when we worked with her as colleagues at our design agency. Ever since she went off on her own, we’ve admired her work from afar. She’s been creating surface pattern and product designs for companies all over the world for the last several years.

In addition to being a great creative, Brittany is a great person. And she’s been an immense help to us in getting the Fairy Trails off the ground by building fairy houses for the last two Fairy Fest events. We’re honored to feature her work in what we hope you’ll agree is an awesome new collection that captures the majesty and magic of northern Michigan.

UP, Upper Peninsula Treetop View, Up North

We had a chance to catch up with Brittany and ask her a few questions about her creative process, her upbringing in the Upper Peninsula, and what inspired her in creating her Treetop View design. Enjoy!

I fell in love with design when:

This seems like an impossible question to me… I’ve always loved creating, but I probably really started to appreciate the world of design when I visited New York and Toronto in high school and discovered how much I loved art museums. From modern design to furniture to indigenous pottery – I found connections and energy in it all!

When I’m at work in my studio, I feel:

So lucky! I love having my own creative space that can be as messy or clean as I feel like making it. It helps me focus to sit in a place in my home that doesn’t have the distractions of mail that needs to be opened, fruit on the counter that I can munch on or laundry that needs to be put away. Everything in my studio is only mine and made for making!

What inspires your work and why?:

Most of my work is inspired by nature or traveling. The shapes and colors of leaves and flowers are constantly new to me no matter how many times or different ways I draw or paint them. I also find an immense amount of energy when I visit museums. Seeing ancient artifacts, historical photographs and artwork on display always makes me want to go home and create. I always take a ton of notes and photos when in these types of spaces.

Describe your ideal day:

My ideal day has just a couple of tasks on my to-do list, no appointments or meetings and a clean desk to work at. That last one is the big one – so often the standing desk next to my computer workstation is full of stuff to sort through and various projects in the works. The days I’m most excited are when it’s completely clear except for my paints and brushes!

Tell us about growing up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and how it influenced you to become a creative person:

For me it’s all about freedom! Growing up in the UP definitely instilled a sense of independence at a young age for both myself and my sister, who is also an entrepreneur! This lifestyle became an open door to explore making in a multitude of ways from building forts in the woods to sewing to painting and gluing things to whatever I could get my hands on. Without the confinement due to costs and mainstream influences that one finds in a metropolitan area, we truly did make our days what we dreamed up. Although, it’s probably important to note, this isn’t all about location, as I’m sure my parents being so easygoing and encouraging about how we spent our free time had a whole lot to do with it too!

What is your favorite outdoor activity, and where do you like to engage in it, in the UP?:

Cross country skiing! To me it’s the perfect way to experience the outdoors as you can get farther in less time, plus it’s challenging, but still quiet and peaceful. It warms you up so quickly!

We know you love to travel – what’s the best adventure you’ve been on, either in Michigan or beyond?:

The trip I always come back to with the fondest memories and strongest desire to go return to is exploring the Patagonia region of Argentina. It was where my husband, Dylan, and I had some of our most challenging travel moments with missed flights and lost luggage, but as soon as we picked up our little seasoned VW rental car in El Calafate we had some of the most spectacular adventures on the isolated roads between glaciers and mountains. In addition, the wines and food of Argentina were also incredible!

What do you like best about being an entrepreneur?:

The components of being an entrepreneur that keep me doing what I do are being challenged to create and manifest new ideas that represent my style, while having a lot of flexibility to volunteer in the community and collaborate with other creative folks on a variety of projects.

Tell us what inspired your Treetop View design?:

When I think about the Upper Peninsula, the canopy of oak trees in the yards and campgrounds I spend time in comes to mind immediately. I imagine listening to the chickadees calling to each other as I hike down trails or sit in my parents’ backyard. I think chickadees are just the sweetest little birds and in my opinion should be the official state bird of Michigan! They stay all winter after all, whereas robins just show up when the warmer weather returns.

We hope you enjoyed this profile of the first talented artist that we’re featuring on Life and Whim. With fall soon upon us, now is the perfect time to pick up some northern Michigan-inspired gear from our new UP Collection to wear around the campfire or out on a hike through a colorful canopy of trees. Shop the entire collection here!

P.S. – Brittany and Stephanie Williams of Raise the Vibe Yoga are hosting an inspiring retreat in Elk Rapids from September 22-24 designed to spark creativity through yoga, the arts, and mindfulness. Sessions will be suitable for any experience level in yoga or the arts! We know that Brittany and Stephanie will be creating an awesome experience. Give yourself a weekend to step away, breathe and refresh your perspectives – sign up today!

For more event information, resources, how to register, and more, please visit www.FreeingCreativityRetreat.com and follow Freeing Creativity on Instagram and Facebook.