Borders are closed and would-be visitors unable to travel, local residents can still send a piece of Yellowknife to friends and family outside the NWT through the creative products featured at one local business.
Yellowknife Cards has only been in operation for one year, but its cards have quickly become a staple at markets and pop-up shops around town.
Images of sundogs, sleds and Franklin Street icons can be purchased and shared to show out-of-territory loved ones what Yellowknife is all about.
Having moved from England over the summer of 2019, Joanne Fairbrother said she was struck by the beauty of the North. She’s always dabbled in artistic hobbies and was a painter back in England. Seeing Yellowknife with fresh eyes, she thought it would be fun to capture scenes from the city.
In January 2020, she began turning her photos into drawings and sharing them with friends and family on Facebook. She said everyone seemed to like them, so when Covid struck and Fairbrother began working from home, she was able to create more images with the extra time. Yellowknife Cards took off from there, she said.
Fairbrother runs the business with her partner Haley Doucet, who runs the marketing and social media for Yellowknife Cards. Together, the pair has sold about 1,300 cards. The pair suspects that number would be higher in a year with more open markets and shops.
“It’s wonderful how everyone’s supporting local,” Fairbrother said. “I love the community feel in supporting the arts and supporting each other in a tough time. It’s been really nice to see how people have come together.”
So far, an image of a flower-clad Elon Muskox is Yellowknife Cards’ best seller. Fairbrother suspects it’s because the Sombe K’e mascot is a a figure people recognize and remember from time spent in Yellowknife
“You obviously create your own memories in the North while you’re here and a lot of people have sent the Elon to family members that have been (here) and had the picture in front of you,” Fairbrother said. “So it’s not just a picture, it’s a picture that evokes a memory as well, for the people receiving it, which is really cool.”
Fairbrother said she’s partial to the lynx card, a new release of a lynx staring at the camera surrounded by autumn colours.
“It’s really fantastic,” she said.
While creating each drawing by hand can be time consuming, Fairbrother said she’s happy to create something “a little bit different that really captures where we are.”
She acknowledged that there are a lot of artists in town, but said she feels lucky to have found her niche.
“Tourists and locals alike, they both seem to really love the artwork so that’s really nice.”
Yellowknife Cards has only been part of one pop-up shop so far in 2021. As the duo continues to create new designs and grow in popularity, they said there could be new materials on the horizon including prints and vinyl stickers.
“The possibilities are endless,” Fairbrother said.