My Story


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.