Wintermyer's work is downtown Wrangell's best-kept artistic secret

From stained glass designers to wood carvers, Wrangell is home to a thriving creative community. But one of the most popular artists in town, whose work appears all over Front Street, is also one of the most anonymous.

If you've ever gone on a Stikine Inn coffee run, eaten pizza at Nic's Place or looked up the weekend movie selection on the Nolan Center website, you've seen the artwork of printmaker and graphic designer Grace Wintermyer.

When she isn't working at outdoor retailer 56° North or in the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium clinic, Wintermyer is creating intricate, nature-inspired logos for small businesses. Though she has a background in studio art, she gravitates toward logo design because of its bold aesthetic and collaborative process.

"I just love the process of ... working with business owners who are coming up with an identity for their business," she said. Wintermyer has an in-depth discussion with each new client to learn about their message and their design ideas.

Some clients make it more difficult to narrow down their grand vision to a single, practical, reproducible image than others. Business owners have asked for a "clean, modern feel but with the northern star in it and fields and our children and our boat," she laughed. "The process is starting with a really big list of things that they view as being important to their business and their message, then narrowing it down to their image."

Once she and her client are in agreement, she begins the agonizing but rewarding process of artistic experimentation, creating draft after draft until she is ready to share her work. The shortest amount of time she has ever spent on a logo was three weeks.

"I am whole-hog invested," she said. "I do tend to work for a long time on my own."

In her Tongass Resin logo, a woman's hair transforms into a spiraling wave, carrying ferns, flowers, mushrooms and bones in its wake. In the "Wrangell: Back to Our Roots" logo for the 2019 Independence Day celebration, a boat and canoe float gently on Zimovia Strait, framed by yellow cedar and shore pine.

Though her designs are varied, they share arboreal and horticultural themes. Wintermyer, who was homeschooled, spent her childhood exploring the forests near her Kentucky home.

"I spent 90% of my day outside in the woods," she said, and while there, she would observe the design elements of plants. She was - and still is - awed by how plants can be "rugged, built for survival, but so beautiful."

One of her favorite parts of logo design is seeing her work used in "unexpected ways." She's always excited to encounter her art on someone's sweatshirt, or in the case of Nic's Pizza, on a neon sign and a line of camouflage baseball caps. She compared the satisfaction she feels seeing her designs develop lives of their own to that of a proud mother, watching her babies grow up. "I like creating things that go on and then have their own life."

Wintermyer has plenty of projects in the works, including a logo for a horse carriage company in Chattanooga. Because flying all the way to Tennessee to view a never-before-seen Wintermyer could cost Wrangellites upwards of $1,000, community members wishing to stay close to home can appreciate her art on the chalkboard easels at 56° North and Alaska Waters. Area art enthusiasts should also keep an eye on the 56° North storefront, which Wintermyer has plans to update.

"We are trying to put some effort into making that storefront more exciting and inviting," she said, and is looking forward to using her creativity "on a much bigger scale."

To commission artwork- or just to appreciate her designs - visit on Instagram. She can be contacted via direct message.


Reader Comments(0)