Places I Have Never Been: Traverse City

Jennifer Hill grew up in a very small city in New Hampshire, and “was always anxious to travel somewhere else.” Now a Boston designer and owner of JHill Design, Hill has channeled her wanderlust into patterns inspired by imaginary vacations to far off places like Andalucia, Spain; Kiev, Ukraine; Savannah, Georgia; and our own Traverse City, Michigan. We check in with her about her Places I Have Never Been line and her pretty spot-on, cherries-and-snow depiction of our exotic Northern town.

What was the impetus of your idea to design travel posters for places you’ve never visited?

I was driving along one night listening to Modest Mouse, and they have a line in one of their songs that says, “We named our children after towns that we’d never been to,” and I thought, how cool …. Then it all just evolved.

What’s your process for choosing your locations, sight unseen?

Usually a friend or family member will tell me a story about a place, such as how green Tahiti was, how many yellow flowers there were in Ireland or what the aquaduct in Zacatecas was like.

How did you pick Traverse City?

My friend told me that Michigan is famous for tart cherries. When I looked it up I found T.C. and the cherry festival. I love cherries, so a festival devoted to them sounded magical!

Who are your artistic or graphic inspirations?

The prints are influenced a lot by fashion, such as Marc Jacobs and Prada and by artists like Frida Kahlo, Francisco Clemente and the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt. I was once an art history major (but changed to design) and am fascinated by symbolism in art.

Any plans to turn these prints into fabrics, tapestries, wall coverings?

We’d love to cozy up under a Traverse City quilt. I’m currently pursuing licensing partnerships to make that quilt a reality!

Can you come to Traverse City now that the print is done?

I am hoping to come to Michigan next summer with my Michigan-breed friends. T.C. is definitely on the list, especially for the festival!

What place you have never been are you working on right at this moment?

I’ve just started Coney Island, Austria, Cairo and Kentucky. I’m trying to do all 50 states to have a complete map.

Purchase Hill’s prints via her website, and follow her "journeys" at placesihaveneverbeen.com

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