The Camper Office Revealed

I’ve always been a believer that you can make any place in the world your very own office. Airplane seats, laundromats, libraries, backyards; as long as there’s a lap for my laptop, I’m good to go. The key word for working from anywhere is: adaptability

For almost two years now, my home and office have been inside a 25’ Airstream with my partner, Isaac and Rico the dog. Needless to say, there has been a lot of adapting. From a workspace perspective, there are many things to consider in order to create a productive work environment:

The GoalZero Yeti 150 is the power pack that I use to charge my MacBook Pro. When the power pack is fully charged, it’s usually able to recharge my laptop battery to 100%.

Custom built convertible standing desk made extra ergonomic with laptop stand, external keyboard and wireless mouse. When the desk isn’t in use, it can be collapsed and the couch beneath it is fully functional.

Office views at Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.

  • Electricity: We often dry camp on public land where there are no water or power hookups. To power my laptop, I have a GoalZero Yeti 150 power bank that’s solar powered by a GoalZero Boulder 50 solar panel. If it’s not sunny, I have to resort to using a generator or going into town to power up.

  • Internet: Between Isaac and I, we have hotspot capabilities via Verizon, AT&T and T Mobile. Between the three carriers, we’re almost always covered in non-remote areas the US and Canada. There’s also a WeBoost cell booster affixed to the camper antenna (originally intended for TV), that helps give us a few extra bars in areas that have a weak signal. We never camp anywhere during the week without cell reception. To check cell coverage before we arrive at a spot, we use an app called OpenSignal that has a user-generated coverage map for each network.

  • Workspace: I work long hours on a laptop and have severe neck problems, so, while lounging on a couch or hunching over a coffee table is okay for an hour or two, it’s not a sustainable work habit for me. Isaac retrofitted a convertible standing desk in the camper which I’ve supplemented with a portable laptop stand, external keyboard and wireless mouse.

  • Alternative Options: There are some days when the landscape and environment are just too distracting, or the internet just isn’t fast enough to upload that big PDF I need to send off. I always like to be aware of my alternative options such as coworking spaces, libraries or coffee shops.

It takes a lot of research, work and – most of all – self-discipline to maintain a productive on-the-road workspace, but it’s definitely worth it when you look out the window and see a beautiful landscape.

Photos by: Isaac Miller Photography

My overhead compartment filled with design books, Wacom tablet, notebooks, and art supplies. Trust me, this isn’t all of it. There’s another entire bin of art supplies under the bed!

My overhead compartment filled with design books, Wacom tablet, notebooks, and art supplies. Trust me, this isn’t all of it. There’s another entire bin of art supplies under the bed!

High Mountain Creative at the Zootown Arts Mini Benefit Show!

These little pieces are 2.3”x3” and 3.5”x5”. The frames were collected from yard sales and second-hand stores over the years just waiting for the perfect opportunity to get used for a mini art project.

These little pieces are 2.3”x3” and 3.5”x5”. The frames were collected from yard sales and second-hand stores over the years just waiting for the perfect opportunity to get used for a mini art project.

Big news! Margo got accepted into the @zootownarts 7th Annual Mini Benefit Show in Missoula, Montana. It’s her first art show and she’s super excited to support an amazing art community and share her mountains with the community. Margo will be donating 75% of her proceeds from the sale of this series to the Zootown Arts Community Center.

Come see the Mini Benefit Show Gallery!

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Gallery Opening on Friday, February 8th at Zootown Arts Community Center from 5:30-8:30 at 235 North 1st St West in Missoula.

Attend the Mini Benefit Show Gala on Saturday, March 9th at The Wilma in Downtown Missoula. This is where you can bid on the “Mountain Meringue” series and other mini art pieces to support the ZACC!

High Mountain Creative joins 1% for the Planet!

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                       

                                    For more information, contact:

Cate Starmer, 1% for the Planet

cate@onepercentfortheplanet.org

+1 (802) 861-0460

  

High Mountain Creative Announces Membership with 1% for the Planet

MISSOULA, MONTANA – High Mountain Creative joined 1% for the Planet, pledging to donate 1% of annual sales to support nonprofit organizations focused on the environment.

"Our member companies have donated more than $175 million to our environmental nonprofit partners to date. Currently, only 3% of total philanthropy goes to the environment and, only 3% of that comes from businesses. The planet needs bigger support than this, and our growing network of member businesses is doing its valuable part to increase giving and support on the ground outcomes. Our members lead with purpose and commitment, characteristics that consumers support. We're excited to welcome High Mountain Creative to our global network," says Kate Williams, CEO of 1% for the Planet.

 “I’ve always found it important to give back to organizations that help make our planet a better place. I’m so excited to join1% for the Planet in 2019 and be a part of the bigger picture,” says High Mountain Creative ­owner, Margo Stoney.

Members of 1% for the Planet contribute one percent of annual sales directly to any of the approved nonprofit environmental organizations in the network. Nonprofits are approved based on referrals, track record and environmental focus. Thousands of nonprofits worldwide are currently approved. 

About 1% for the Planet

1% for the Planet is a global organization that connects dollars and doers to accelerate smart environmental giving. We recognize that the current level of environmental giving - only 3% of total philanthropy - is not enough to solve the most pressing issues facing our planet.

Through our business and individual membership, 1% for the Planet inspires people to support environmental organizations through annual membership and everyday actions. We advise on giving strategies, we certify donations, and we amplify the impact of the network.

Started in 2002 by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, founder of Blue Ribbon Flies, our members have given more than $175 million to environmental nonprofits to date. Today, 1% for the Planet is a network of more than 1,200 member businesses, a new and expanding core with hundreds of individual members, and thousands of nonprofit partners in more than 60 countries. Look for our logo and visit www.onepercentfortheplanet.org to learn more.

 About High Mountain Creative

High Mountain Creative is a boutique creative studio with over 15 years of experience in serving the outdoor industry and conservation nonprofits.

Creative Communication: How to Communicate with your Creative Colleagues

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Before I started working for myself, I had an employer that invested a lot in personal development and team dynamics. During my time there, I had the opportunity to complete Strength Finders, Insights Discovery and The DiSC Assessment. While not everything about these personality assessments resonated with me, it opened my eyes to the plethora of ways that people with different personalities tend to communicate. I learned that my director preferred getting straight-to-the-point in meetings and that I didn’t need to waste anyone’s time talking about the weather. On the other hand, some of my colleagues preferred to visit me in my cubicle and chat about life while they delivered revisions to the headline of an advertisement. I eventually adapted to these communication styles without compromising my own workflow and began to feel an overall better understanding of those around me – increasing my productivity and satisfaction.

As a pretty typical right-brained creative, I realized pretty early on that not everyone sees things the way that I do. I’ve learned to take a step back when working with new clients and to be more perceptive to their communication style. I can usually tell within the first moments of interaction how I can adjust my workflow and communication style to approach each project with them. I discover if someone prefers e-mail or talking on the phone, I can tell if they like giving feedback or if they need some encouragement in offering their honest opinion. I can sense if they’re super deadline driven, or have a more relaxed work style. 

This skill is something I’ve learned over time. When I first started, I wanted everyone to follow my protocol because it’s what I was most comfortable with and assumed was the most efficient. I didn’t consider that I may have been pushing others out of their comfort zone or – even worse – killing productivity and possibly diluting a good working relationship. 

I wanted to provide some insight to those who are new to working with a graphic designer or creative professional or just need some help smoothing the waves of communication. I surveyed a diverse group of 20+ creatives to get their take on different aspects of working through the creative process with clients – everything from preferred methods of contact to possible reasons for miscommunication. 

Take a look at the results:

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Here are some good tips to consider when establishing a new relationship with your graphic designer:

  • Make sure your designer provides an onboarding document or project checklist before you agree to work together. Each designer uses a different creative process and it’s important that you’re on board before you sign an agreement.

  • At the beginning of the project, discuss your preferred method of contact (i.e. phone, text, email) and figure out a good communication strategy that works for both parties. If you prefer to give project details in-person but your designer is not local or is only accessible by phone or e-mail, it might be a sign that it’s not a good fit.

  • The feedback and revision process can often be where a project goes awry. Deciding a good method for relaying feedback before reviewing a design could save a lot of time. Here are some methods to consider using for providing feedback:

    • Use Adobe Acrobat “Sticky Note” Comments 

    • A bulleted list of feedback

    • On a call on in-person

    • Screensharing on Skype

    • A marked-up and scanned printout of the project

  • Creatives are naturally visual people, providing visual examples – whether it’s a rough sketch on a napkin or a full Pinterest board of ideas – usually plays a big part in a designer’s creative process and can drastically improve the results of your project. Even if this doesn’t seem like your forte, ask your designer for some tips on how you can help them get a good feel for the vision for the project. 

  • Simply practice honest, open communication about what’s working for you.

Here are some valuable nuggets from some of the designers who took my survey:

I have a full consultation to try and get a feel for who my clients are, what they like and what their goals are to better personalize their project. -Samantha LaBarbara | getoutloud.com

I make sure that my phone’s voicemail message says for people to text me if they want me to get back to them sooner. -Shaina Nacion | shainanacion.com

We have created a complete process outlining our expectations and how we prefer communications with our clients. This has helped us set boundaries and avoid miscommunications. - Mallory Musante | www.boldandpop.com

I always have a check list when I have a phone or in-person meeting with a client to make sure that everything that needs to be covered is addressed in that meeting. - Nehemiah Harmsen | @nehemiah9design

Thanks to all of the creatives who took the survey, it was really neat seeing the results. I hope everyone can use this in your toolbox of creative communication! 

Taking the “Office” Out of Your Office Job: Tips for Successful Remote Working

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Great news, your boss gave you the green light to work from home a couple days a week, or better yet, you started your own business and have the privilege of working from wherever you want. The idea of working remotely is really exciting but the reality of it can be a little overwhelming. Here are some tips to help develop the self-discipline and routine to make you thrive at remote working.

Keep a Workspace Toolbox.  What’s in mine? A Sketchbook, noise-cancelling headphones, my to-do list, a highlighter and, maybe the most important thing of all: snacks.

Keep a Workspace Toolbox. What’s in mine? A Sketchbook, noise-cancelling headphones, my to-do list, a highlighter and, maybe the most important thing of all: snacks.

  • Get Good at Saying “No” to Distractions: There will almost always be that friend or family member that tries to pull you away from your workday – whether it’s pressuring you to join them in a midday workout session or temping you to take off early for happy hour – set your parameters and stick to them. Not only will saying “no” help you keep on track with your work day, but it will help them to understand the importance of your work and take your lifestyle more seriously.

  • Let the Timer be Your Friend: Without regular meetings or break room water coolers to break up the day, it’s easy for time to get away from you – especially if you are managing multiple projects at once. Setting timers to remind you to take breaks or switch tasks is a really nice tool to help you stay on track. 

    • Be Focused is a desktop app that allows you to set timers for certain tasks and reminds you to take a five minute break every 25 minutes.

    • Simply type in Timer to a Google search

  • Keep a Workspace Toolbox: No matter where you plan to work, the key to creating a productive workspace is making it yours. Whether you’re at home or a coffee shop; it’s the little things that can help you be productive when working away from your normal desk. I have a special work bag where I keep everything I need for work so I can just drop in my laptop before I go and know I can set up shop and be productive anywhere. Here’s a quick snapshot of my Workspace Toolbox:

    • Mouse, Mousepad & Portable Laptop Stand

    • Highlighters, Favorite Pen & Mechanical Pencil

    • Sketchpad, To-Do List, Sticky Notes & Scrap Paper

    • Snacks: Gum, Mints, Granola Bars, Bottle of Water, Lunch (if I’m going to be away from home all day)

    • Extra Phone Charger & Headphones

  • Follow the 24 Hour E-mail Reply Rule: Whether you’re self-employed or working remotely for a company, reliability and consistency are so important. Even if it means just sending a quick reply to let someone know that you got their email, always respond to an email within the first 24 hours NO MATTER WHAT. Don’t give your boss or clients a reason to think that you can’t manage your time as a remote worker. If you know you’re going to be traveling or out of service for more than 24 hours, alert your contacts ahead of time and use an out-of-office notification.

  • Connect with Other Remote Workers: If you spend all or a lot of your time working remotely, you’ll start to notice that it can become quite lonely and isolating. Find a network of other remote workers or self-employed people who are interested in meeting up to work together in a shared space like a library or co-working space. Everyone can work on their own projects while enjoying the company of others. Check out Meetup.com or local Facebook groups to find other remote workers.

  • Have a List of Good Work Spaces: Imagine you have a deadline and need a solid work day, you show up at Starbucks and it’s loud, busy and there’s nowhere to sit. Now what? Having a good quiver of productive workspaces nearby is key. Do some research for:

    • Local libraries

    • Coffee Shops

    • Coworking Spaces

    • Visitor Centers with WiFi (if you’re traveling in a tourist area)

Here are some things to consider when finding spots to work:

    • Are there enough power outlets in the seating area?

    • Is the internet fast and reliable?

    • If it’s a coffee shop, do they have rush periods during breakfast or lunch that can distract you from your work or keep you from finding a spot?

    • Can you stay for a long period of time? Some coffee shops have limits.

    • What does it cost? Keep in mind that working at a coffee shop and spending money on lattes and snacks can add up!

    • If you need to take phone calls, is there a quiet space to do so?

    • Are the tables and chairs comfortable? 

I’d love to hear your tips, stories or questions about remote working and embracing this exciting lifestyle. 

Summer Memories and Imperfect Drawings

It's been a while since I've made time to sit down and draw for myself. Over the weekend, I decided to give myself the assignment of drawing a map of all of my favorite memories from this spring and summer. It turned out to be really fun to reminisce about all we've done in the last six months. Isaac and I traveled all over the country to visit friends and family; we celebrated weddings and new additions (my new nephew, Jack!). Along the way, I took up fly fishing and watercolors and even had the chance to weave my own rug. We climbed our first 14er together and visited the Grand Canyon by train. If you look closely on the map, you might even discover some really good news.

Not only was drawing this map a great way to celebrate the summer, it ended up teaching me something about my creative mindset and process. I started off by drawing the states on the map and then the names, it was going well and I really liked how it was looking. As I began to add the different pieces, I started to make little mistakes and certain elements didn't turn out the way I wanted; I almost put down my pen and quit.

The raw, original illustration.

The full finished map before I superimposed it on my sketchpad with a cool tablecloth.

This idea of only being satisfied when a project turns out absolutely perfect the first time can be an unhealthy obsession. Over the years, I've found that I'm becoming a creative perfectionist – something that I think is healthy only in small doses. Without the ability to let go of perfection, art and design are no longer fun and freeing. I'll easily spend an hour deciding between two different shades of (very similar) blue, I'll agonize over this serif font or that almost-the-same serif font, I'll take 45 minutes crafting a 2 sentence email to a client. These things, I've realized, are what contribute to the creative burnout I experience from time to time. Instead of trusting my instincts as an artist and designer, I let self-doubt take over.

Okay, now back to the map drawing. After some self-coaxing, I decided that it doesn't matter if the map sucks and that I need to finish it because 1) I'm just doing for fun, not for any other reason or purpose, and 2) I'm a freaking Photoshop wizard, the parts I don't like, I can fix in Photoshop or remove completely. I used to have a hard time accepting this as a solution, and I think an illustration purist would say that this is cheating, but I say that I'm using all of the tools in my toolbox to create a final product that matches my vision.

I think the takeaway in all of this is to remember to trust yourself and have fun. Whether we're talking about art, relationships, fitness and maybe even business.

This was the finished product of my Favorite Summer Memories Map. Giving myself permission to use all of the tools available to me, I was able to make a composite using Photoshop so the piece looks more like I envisioned in my head.

This was the finished product of my Favorite Summer Memories Map. Giving myself permission to use all of the tools available to me, I was able to make a composite using Photoshop so the piece looks more like I envisioned in my head.

National Parks Vintage Postcard Series

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This series of postcards was inspired by a 15,000-mile road trip across North America in a silver trailer. My partner, Isaac, and I visited places most people don't dare to go to in the winter, let alone in a camper. We traveled from Colorado north through Montana, Wyoming, Alberta and British Columbia. When we had just about as much cold as we could handle, we drove south through Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest National Park where our dog, Rico, got Bark Ranger certified and joined on the hiking trails.

Dog-friendly trails are rare within the National Parks system; this helps preserve wildlife and land inside the parks. According to the National Park Service, the  Bark   Ranger program is intended to be a community outreach strategy and method for positive enforcement of pet policy in the park.

Dog-friendly trails are rare within the National Parks system; this helps preserve wildlife and land inside the parks. According to the National Park Service, the Bark Ranger program is intended to be a community outreach strategy and method for positive enforcement of pet policy in the park.

I've always loved collecting vintage ski town and National Parks postcards during my travels. It's the one souvenir that I always buy when I go somewhere since I don't have much space to store things.

I've always loved collecting vintage ski town and National Parks postcards during my travels. It's the one souvenir that I always buy when I go somewhere since I don't have much space to store things.

We had the most perfect campsite when we visited Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada and that's where I got the idea to design a postcard inspired by the Airstream in front of the mountain peaks. During the roadtrip, Isaac took some really beautiful photos at Grand Teton, Joshua Tree and Glacier National Parks, I wanted to have a way to reflect my own inspiration for these places, and that's when I decided to create an entire series of vintage-style postcards that I could share with everyone else who loves these places.

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If you'd like to have your own set of these National Parks Vintage Postcards, they're available for sale in the High Mountain Creative Art Store.

If George Clooney were Yosemite

Peace and freedom in Petrified Forest National Park. Photo: isaacmillerphotography.com

Peace and freedom in Petrified Forest National Park. Photo: isaacmillerphotography.com

During my travels, I've spent time at some of the most stunning – and consequently – most heavily visited places in the world. I came up with the analogy of comparing places to people. For example, George Clooney is Yosemite and Jennifer Aniston is the Matterhorn – all of these famous and mainstream people and places are extremely popular and the most obvious to appreciate. People are lined up to admire them, they wait patiently to "meet" them and gape at their beauty.

A double rainbow in a remote area of Idaho. Who knows if anyone else even saw it?

A double rainbow in a remote area of Idaho. Who knows if anyone else even saw it?

But what about that quiet little campground littered with lakes and trees that we stumble upon off a farm road in Nebraska? Or that unexpected pit stop in the middle of Arizona to experience the quiet enchanting trails of Petrified Forest National Park? When I compare these places to people, I compare them to that friend that is always there for you and makes you feel relaxed and at home. There are no expectations or egos, no pretentiousness. 

At the end of the day, while I still like a good episode of Friends and I definitely won't turn down a trip to Yosemite, I would be lying if I said I would prefer them over a quiet hike with my best friend on a less-traveled trail in Montana.

South Dakota in September? No problem! Open roads galore.

South Dakota in September? No problem! Open roads galore.