Gemma Darr was just 15 when she started her photography business. Now, at 20, she’s fusing her entrepreneurial savviness with a chic design sense to capture Marquette, Michigan’s iconic landmarks.

As a teenager, Gemma Darr viewed the world through the lens of her Canon camera. Her passion for capturing the little moments sparked a business idea and Gemma Darr Creative Co. was born. Since then, the company has expanded with her creative interests. Along with photography sessions, Darr now authors a life and style blog and creates custom illustrations.

“I love artwork that is meaningful,” Gemma says. “About 90 percent of the artwork I create is commissioned, so every piece is unique to a community or individual.”

Originally hailing from downstate, Gemma relocated to the Upper Peninsula eight years ago and quickly fell in love with her new hometown. As the largest city in the U.P., Marquette has been noted by the likes of Forbes and Lonely Planet as a place for growing families and adventure seekers alike.

“Despite not being here my whole life, Marquette is absolutely home to me,” Gemma says. “I’ve never been a part of a community that is more welcoming and more proud to be who they are.”

The young artist has absorbed as much inspiration from the natural charm around her as she has from her community members. Being around Lake Superior, the lush trees and the expansive hiking trails have been incredibly influential to her creative output.

“It’s made my work a lot more organic,” she says. “Everything about nature here is perfectly imperfect, so it only makes sense that my artwork is that way as well. I love the beauty in little messes and imperfections.”

When she’s not in her northern hometown, you can find Gemma downstate in East Lansing. Currently a professional writing and advertising student, Gemma is in her junior year at Michigan State University. Of course, being away from Marquette has invited some homesickness, but she’s found a way to alleviate the pain with—you guessed it—her art. 

Gemma is creating stickers from her illustrations of the most iconic landmarks and hobbies in Marquette. You’ll see renderings of the historic Ore Dock, the Superior Dome, Lake Superior and The Delft Bistro, a theater turned restaurant. There is also a pair of lighthouses, the Upper Peninsula and a bicycle showcasing one of the city’s most popular pastimes. 

“I wanted to capture [Marquette’s icons] through my illustrations and take them with me wherever I go,” Gemma says.

And you can too! Individual die-cut stickers and the sticker sheets are available for purchase on her Etsy shop. Look for Marquette-themed apparel coming soon.

Marquette, Michigan

Photo(s) by Gemma Darr