Christophe Marchal has been making art professionally in a wide array of mediums (digital and traditional graphic design, web development and technical animation) for over 20 years. For most of that time he has worked as a character and creature animator and rigger within the video games industry. Recently, he was a part of the small team that shipped the critically acclaimed PC game, Grim Dawn and Grim Dawn: The Ashes of Malmouth, working on those projects as the Senior Technical Animator.
In the summer of 2018, he founded Hair of the Wolf Potion Company as a way to showcase and sell some illustrations and artwork he made for new clients and friends. Notably, he released a hand-drawn Tolkien-esque map of the Realm of the White Mountain National Forest last year, a 4’x4’ replica of which now hangs in the Notch Hostel living room.
About the Logo
The story of the Notch Hostel logo begins, naturally, with a hike. In the fall of 2014, Notch co-founders Serena Ryan and Justin Walsh embarked on a backpacking trip over Mts. Waumbek and Cabot, New Hampshire’s two northernmost 4000-foot peaks. When they arrived at the remote Cabot Cabin, to their surprise, they met 10 other people there, including Christophe Marchal. Life-long connections were made, and the Notch Hostel logo idea was born.
The Notch founders had been struggling to come up with a suitable logo design for months. They had worked with two different designers, neither of whom had hiked in the White Mountains. After learning of the founders’ plight, Christophe, an avid hiker who had been wandering the trails of New Hampshire and Maine for over 20 years, immediately offered to design the logo. Providing him with nothing but a clumsy description of the general vibe the founders were looking for in a logo, Christophe set to work. A few weeks later, he sent over the logo you see today. It was perfect. No alterations or adjustments were made from the original drawing. Christophe’s art breathed life into the Notch brand.
The logo has several unique elements. The entire logo is actually a compass, with the N in Notch and the S in Hostel making up the North and South markers. The East and West arrows are Appalachian Trail (AT) symbols, cluing viewers in to our proximity to the trail.
The iconic image of Franconia Notch fills the center of the logo; this famous view is just a few minutes north of the hostel along Route 93, and was the inspiration for the hostel’s name. The Celtic-style lettering came naturally to Christophe, who wrote his entire trail journal in Elvish while hiking the AT at age 15.
About Christophe’s Relationship to the Notch
Christophe later went on to design other artwork for the Notch, including the constellation design featured on our bandanas, and the Welcome to Basecamp design featured in our lobby, newsletters, website, and limited edition shirts. He has remained close friends with the Notch co-founders, joining them on a mountaineering trip to climb in the Cascades, White Mountains adventures, and countless jam sessions.
Serena’s all-time favorite memory with Christophe? “Beginning the epic drive along the famous Washington Pass, through the North Cascades of Washington State, blasting ‘Sweet Emotion’ by Aerosmith at full volume.” You just never know what will happen—or who you will meet—when you enter the Realm of the White Mountain National Forest.