Rachel Oftedahl

Stubborn dreamer.

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Oftedahl - There is no N

My family name is Oftedahl, which is a very, very Norwegian name. My grandparents were both born in Norway, and my family is a little obsessed with our Norwegian heritage. We have an annual family gathering every year in the small town in Wisconsin where we are from, and it is a big Syttende Mai festival, which is Norway's equivalent of the 4th of July.

We aren't fancy, we don't come from elite stock, so there is no such thing as a family crest. But we do descend from Vikings. Not just theoretically, we actually do. The family is pretty big, and out in the real world we are mostly a bunch of introverts, but we are all the same flavor of introverts, so during our annual family gathering, we just go bananas. We play games non-stop, as all of us are extremely competitive, but we are a friendly competitive. In a family that large, you're gonna lose, so just have fun! People outside of the family who marry in are generally a little intimidated by all of us in one place. And so I began my research.

The thing is, most things I associate, like meatballs, lefse, and M&Ms, are round. Not terribly exciting. And much as I appreciate the vein of the course, I didn't feel like ivy was going to cut it for a bunch of Vikings. That trick with building ivy was neat, though.

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I loved the pageantry of some of the traditional crests. Some of it was echoed in rosemaling, a traditional Norwegian folk art that the family is also obsessed with. All of us have several pieces in our home. And then there is the beautiful, simple simplicity of the Viking ship. And so of course in the middle of the night it hit me... why not have a Viking ship plunging through rosemaling waters, coming out of a shield? I could borrow the colors of some of the rosemaling, bring in some cards (there is a card game called "Oh, Heck" that gets played into the wee hours of the morning every time we are around each other,) and see what happens. So I started to sketch.

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In sketching I suddenly realized what our motto pretty much is. "There is no N". You see, our name isn't that hard to spell, and yet somehow, without fail, people always add an 'N' into the middle. Oftendahl. Which is so very, very wrong. You can spell it out, letter for letter, people still want to add that 'N'. Somehow they just want to see the word 'often'. 

I started roughing out some shapes.

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But I wasn't buying it. And I kept feeling like my 'waves' looked like testicles. I went forth with my sketch book again, channeled the rosemaling classes of my youth, and came up with this.

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Which started a landslide. I started out really elaborate, then pulled back. I did a version using the simple colors of the Norwegian flag, and another version informed by some of my rosemaling research.

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Then I pulled back a hair.

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Then I pulled WAY back, went to an earlier iteration, but put in my new text banners.

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In the end, I know this is likely WAY more elaborate than it was supposed to go, but for my family, it works. When all together, we are a sort of ordered chaos. Simple icon shapes just don't apply. And definitely no ivy. 

In the end... this is my favorite.

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