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An App to Move Your Digital Stories Offline and Into Your Hands An App to Move Your Digital Stories Offline and Into Your Hands

An App to Move Your Digital Stories Offline and Into Your Hands

by Jess Lybeck
December 8, 2013

With so much design focused on the digital world, sometimes it's powerful to hold something in your hands. To feel the weight of a hardcover book. To smell the crispness of fallen leaves during autumn. To break away from your screen to experience things in the "real world."  

I'm always looking for inspiration in this arena—so I was glad to stumble into Artifact Uprising, a company founded by two sisters, Jenna and Katie, in snowy Colorado. As professional photographers, beautiful photos filled their phones and hard drives, but the stories they told were typically trapped in digital space. They asked the question, "Where should these photos live?" And more importantly: "As a friend, daughter, and mother, What will I leave behind?"

They knew it was time to get physical. Just over a year ago, they quit their comfortable careers as photographers and started a business from scratch—a photo goods company they say is "inspired by the disappearing beauty of the tangible" and actually respects Mama Earth. Their Online Book Creator and iPhone App allow you to create beautifully designed photo books, calendars, and prints from your digital images or Instagram feed. After years of prototyping and tinkering, they solved their own problem. In the process, they have already helped thousands of travelers, parents, brides, and photo enthusiasts solve the problem, too. 

I've recently started working with these ladies a few days a week. They work hard, but it's easy to get inspired by the big things their small team has accomplished (take a look at their oh-so-beautiful Instagram feed get a sense of what I mean). They have their priorities straight: placing value in exploration, sticking to their guns, and growing a community that values quality in a mass-produced world. And they have made a commitment to produce sustainably, by using 100% recycled interior pages and reclaimed Colorado-grown beetle-kill pine for their woodblock products. 

As an individual and entrepreneur, I'm ready to simplify my digital life. I'm ready to step away from the constant screen—to focus more on the relationships in the real world, not the never-ending stream of information. Something more meaningful, more tangible. Will a printed book help me in that journey? Perhaps. But either way, the mission of this small company has made me think. And it feels like a great first step. 

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