StefaniePayne.com
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My Story

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Hello! Welcome to my online world, where I am often referred to as @iStefPayne.

At work, they call me Stefanaut.

My family and friends, quite inventive they are, call me Steffarrific, Stefanitely, Stefalicious, Steffarooneyroo, Stuffy ... I have a lot of nicknames.

My proper name is Stefanie Payne. You can call me whatever.

I was born in Seattle, Washington, during the Apple II era – Generation X. I played all the sports, sang in all the choirs, did all of the activities, evaded trouble amazingly enough, and after graduating from high school, I was off.

I set off to continue my schooling, establish myself professionally, and focused my spare time on traveling the world – to six continents, 40-something countries, 46 states, and to all 59 of the U.S. National Parks. 

This year, I made a book. And now, a new website. I hope you will find here inspiration of some kind (and the information that drove you here in the first place.) Onward!

 

Quick view

Early professional life

For the better part of my 20's, I worked at a niche marketing company, CityRoom Inc., where I honed my professional skills and learned the ropes of traditional marketing, digital media, promotion, design, product development, partnerships, and communications and strategy. After nearly a decade of employment, I had built a strong body of work and learned quite a few tricks and set out to seek new opportunities. Then I landed at NASA... kind of by accident. 

Working at NASA

Since 2012, I have worked as a communications strategist and creative lead at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. My role in strategic communications focuses on shaping the story of human spaceflight endeavors that align with agency strategy as determined in the Space Policy Directive. 

living in the national parks

During 2016, I took a one-year sabbatical to explore and document every U.S. National Park on a co-developed, sponsored media project. 59 parks in 52 weeks — the Greatest American Road Trip — officially began 1/1/16 and successfully concluded on 12/31/16. Read more here.

Back at NASA

After completing the national parks project, I found my way back to NASA Headquarters and Washington, D.C. where I presently work on strategic communications and creative product development for Deep Space Exploration Systems’ initiatives in human exploration. 

making a book

In partnership with Jonathan Irish, a professional photographer represented by National Geographic Creative, I co-wrote and developed a 240-page coffee table book about our quest to explore and document all 59 of the U.S. National Parks during the National Park Service centennial in 2016.. ‘A Year in the National Parks: The Greatest American Road Trip’ is available for purchase on our website and on Amazon.com.

NASA Design Samples

I've designed plenty of creative collateral for NASA, and as a government agency, those designs are now an asset belonging to the American people — I'm pretty proud of that. You can see my work on apparel, coffee mugs, keychains, U.S. and international websites, posters, print magazines, on toys, in feature films, and in many other places. See design samples here.  

Photography Samples

I've had a camera in my hip pocket for at least 15 years which I have used to capture my life on the road while traveling near and far, for myself and semi-professionally. A small collection is gathered here

Side Projects

On occasion, I adopt side projects (or perhaps they adopt me) in the creative field. I've worked on logos, company branding, writing, web promotion, website building, experience marketing, social media takeovers, and other pursuits to help small and large companies meet brand objectives and grow their audience.  


 
 
 

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working At NASA

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Since 2012, I have worked as a communications strategist and product development lead in
the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. 

As a creative director for Deep Space Exploration Systems, and creative co-lead for the agency’s Journey to Mars campaign, I have helped to shape the human spaceflight, technology, and science narrative at NASA. Through impactful visual materials designed specifically for maximized use across a variety of digital, print, and in-person applications, our teams have moved the needle of awareness and support across the nation and world. 

Today, I continue strategic communications and creative work for the agency's human exploration initiatives as the world looks ahead to a new future in space. Ad Astra!


 
 
 

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My Life in the National Parks

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The greatest american road trip 

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In 2016, Jonathan Irish, a professional photographer, and I left our lives in Washington, D.C. and hit the open road on an expedition to explore and document all 59 of America’s national parks during the centennial celebration of the U.S. National Park Service — 59 parks in 52 weeks — it was the Greatest American Road Trip. We  traversed North America in a 4X4 SUV, with an Airstream trailer in tow, traveling more than 40,000 miles, and camping in the backcountry whenever possible.  With parks located in the Caribbean, northern Alaska, American Samoa in the Pacific and everywhere in between, it was an ambitious, yet attainable goal that was realized when we crossed the finish line on December 31, 2016.

While the surface of our road trip was a pursuit of wild adventure, our ultimate goal was to raise awareness of and support for America’s public lands — which many believe to hold some of the finest treasures found anywhere on our planet. We strived to document in photographs, stories, and video footage each of the parks with equal treatment — giving as much attention to the lesser known and least visited parks in the system as to those that are the most famous — all of which we shared on our website and across a variety of social media platforms, and which were reported on by the national and international news media

What we found along the way and in the end was a greater understanding of the country that we call home. Nothing about our expedition was easy, and every bit of it was thrilling to us as individuals: a pursuit of big adventure, a logistics puzzle of grand proportions, and, a deeply personal quest that unfolded every day during our one year on the road in America.  

 

How lucky i have been... 

Photography credit: Jonathan Irish, to whom I am forever grateful for capturing these cherished moments in my life. 


 
 

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The national Parks book

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It would be silly to spend a full year adventuring in the American wild, taking photographs and creating stories the entire way, without creating a book to commemorate the experience...

A Year in the National Parks: The Greatest American Road Trip is a gorgeous visual journey through our cherished public lands, detailing a rich tapestry of what makes each park special, as seen along our epic journey to visit them all within one special celebratory year.

Want more info? Check out our Book FAQ on thegreatestroaadtrip.com.


 

 

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NASA DESIGN Portfolio

Creative development at America's space agency

A collection of designs and collaborations created for NASA public outreach efforts, including social media shareables, event signage, posters, print handouts, exhibit signage, and for other purposes. 

Poster design for the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11

Concept design for agency vision; with execution assistance from Carlyle Webb

Print, presentation, social media - NASA's human exploration extensibility story

Cover design concept for NASA's 2018 Strategic Plan

"Science Fiction vs. Science Fact" social media shareables for collaboration on the film, 'The Martian' 

Event signage for aerospace Industry Suppliers Conference on Capitol Hill

Social media shareable designed for Space Launch System RS-25 engine test

Social media shareable designed for Space Launch System RS-25 engine test

Campaign collaboration, design work by Jenny Mottar

Print highlights reports used in internal and stakeholder communications

Pop-up banner stands at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans

Print and social media creative for the anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner

Social media shareable designed for the State of the Union address

Social media shareable designed for launch coverage of Orion's first flight

Print farewell certificate design for parting staff

Print farewell certificate design for parting staff

Cover design concept (final select) for NASA's 2018 Strategic Plan

 

 

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Photography 

Pictures from around the world

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Lemaire Channel, Antarctica

Lemaire Channel, Antarctica

Bled, Slovenia

Bled, Slovenia

Golden Harbour, South Georgia Island

Golden Harbour, South Georgia Island

Icehotel, Lapland, Sweden

Icehotel, Lapland, Sweden

Easter Island (Rapa Nui), Chile

Easter Island (Rapa Nui), Chile

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington state, USA

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington state, USA

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, USA

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, USA

National Park Service ranger, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, USA

National Park Service ranger, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, USA

Channel Islands National Park, California

Channel Islands National Park, California

Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Gobi Desert, Mongolia

Gobi Desert, Mongolia

Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska, USA

Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska, USA

Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska, USA

Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska, USA

North Cascades National Park, Washington state, USA

North Cascades National Park, Washington state, USA

The Falkland Islands, Argentina

The Falkland Islands, Argentina

Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Cascadia Farms, Washington state, USA

Cascadia Farms, Washington state, USA

Alaska from the air, Alaska, USA

Alaska from the air, Alaska, USA

Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska, USA

Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska, USA

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska, USA

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska, USA

Blackwater, Maryland

Blackwater, Maryland

Blackwater, Maryland

Blackwater, Maryland

49th State Brewery, Healy, Alaska, USA

49th State Brewery, Healy, Alaska, USA

Olympic National Park, Washington state, USA

Olympic National Park, Washington state, USA

Sequoia National Park, California, USA

Sequoia National Park, California, USA

Serengeti, Tanzania

Serengeti, Tanzania

Dead Vlei, Namibia

Dead Vlei, Namibia

Northern Tanzania

Northern Tanzania

Namib Desert, Namibia

Namib Desert, Namibia

Palmwag Concession, Namibia

Palmwag Concession, Namibia

Predjama, Slovenia

Predjama, Slovenia

St. Petersburg, Russia

St. Petersburg, Russia

New York, NY, USA

New York, NY, USA


 

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Side projects

 
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when not writing about exploration in space...  

...I tell stories about adventures here on Earth, with articles appearing in The Huffington Post, Smithsonian Magazine, The Travel Channel, Travel + Leisure, blogs for The National Geographic Society, Thrillist, Red Bull, Lonely Planet, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, IBTimes, the Daily Meal, CityRoom, and many other publications. 

I have hosted themed #chats on Twitter, hosted Instagram takeovers (Department of the Interior; Lonely Planet), and had several televised appearances as well as on-air radio and podcast segments (The TakeAway WNYC, NPR). Experiencial writing outlets have included Findery, RootsRated, JustLuxe, and other online networks that bridge the gap between social networking, travel writing, and reviews for travelers. I am in the top 1% of Trip Advisor reviewers and a member of the Travel Writers Network. 

Every now and then I tackle side projects that include logo design, company branding, print design, article writing, website design and development, social media campaigns, photography projects, and other freelance assignments. 

I am presently accepting freelance assignments related to travel and social media ... I think. Please contact me to inquire. 

 

 
 

Please CONTACT me

For all inquiries, please fire away!