This week, I was very happy to get to interview Minnesota graphic designer, Nicole Meyer. Based in Minneapolis, 27-year-old Meyer has gained a lot of attention for her Branding 10,000 Lakes project, which involves designing a logo for a Minnesota lake each day until… well I’m not sure. If she keeps up the project, it would take her 27 years. I first heard about Meyer in this Star Tribune article, but her project has also been featured on FastCo design. You can see all of her designs for this project on her website as well as buy prints of her work here.
Can you describe how you came upon the idea for your Branding 10,000 Lakes project? I was still living in Phoenix, planning for an impending move back to Minneapolis. I decided that I wanted to start a project that would combine my love for Minnesota with the desire to create something daily to improve my design skills, and to serve as a portfolio piece in my job search. I decided to use the lakes as my subject because not only are they a very important part of Minnesota, but there’s also an almost endless supply that could sustain the project.
After doing the calculation and seeing that it will take you 27 years to complete, do you think you will stick with the project to its completion? 27 years is a looong time. All I can say is that I’m going to try to take the project as far as I can. It’s been a fun ride so far.
How has this side project inspired you in other endeavors? I think it’s forced me to think and work quicker, which has helped me a lot in my other work. It has also served as a great outlet for ideas I’ve had that haven’t been able to be used in regular client work.
It has also served as a great outlet for ideas I’ve had that haven’t been able to be used in regular client work.
What have you learned from the Branding 10,000 Lakes project about yourself as a designer? I’ve learned that if you stop talking about it and start doing something, amazing things can happen. I’ve also learned that not every piece of design you create is going to be a home run. What matters is that you keep designing, because eventually some things will click.
What matters is that you keep designing, because eventually some things will click.
You seem to have some sort of system for putting the logos together. Can you describe your design process? Each logo is different of course… different thought and design process. But one common process is beginning and refining each in Illustrator, then bringing that vector artwork into Photoshop to add any texture or photography.
Many of the logos are juxtaposed with photography in their presentation on your site. What drew you to using photos as a backdrop to your designs? I’ve always been drawn to logos being presented on photography. I think for certain designs it gives them more context and feeling than a plain background would.
Can you describe your background as a graphic designer? When and how did you start out? I actually didn’t study graphic design at all, oddly enough. I double-majored in Advertising and Art at the University of Minnesota. When I became a creative intern, and eventually an Art Director at a small agency in Phoenix, I was forced to teach myself to become a good designer as a part of that. I think being self taught has given me a great appreciation for what all of these amazing designers are creating out there, because it’s something that requires a lot of work and practice.
I think being self taught has given me a great appreciation for what all of these amazing designers are creating out there, because it’s something that requires a lot of work and practice.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out in the design business? Create, create, create. The more things you make, not only the better you get, but the better chance you have of getting your name out there in the industry. Also, have a good social media presence, particularly on Twitter. There are so many people to follow and interact with there that you can learn a lot from. And it’s a great way to share all that great work your creating.
Your Facebook page seemed to be pretty poppin’ last time I checked. How do you think social media has helped lead to your success? It’s been an integral part of the success of the project. Without a presence on Facebook and Twitter, there’d really be little way to share the project, particularly on a daily basis. It’s been a great way to interact with people who enjoy the work as well, which has been amazing.
As a designer, do you have any general rules that you stick to? Not really. Just work hard and do what feels right. And have fun.
What do you enjoy doing outside of graphic design? Do you work in other mediums? Have other hobbies? I’m a huge football fan, particularly a huge Green Bay Packer fan. So most weekends involve that in some way. I also just love being with friends and exploring everything the amazing Twin Cities have to offer.
You mentioned on your site that lake logos tend to be ugly and expressed the need to rethink that notion. Why do you think good design is important? Good design = good communication. Brands need good design to represent what they’re all about in order to connect with the consumers they’re trying to reach, as well as to differentiate themselves from their competition. Also, really, why not try to make everything as beautiful as possible?
Good design = good communication… why not try to make everything as beautiful as possible?
Are there any graphic designers (or artists) that you admire? Any logos you wished you had designed? There are really too many to count… I admire pretty much everyone that I follow on Twitter and Dribbble. There’s a ridiculous amount of talent out there, and I’m constantly inspired by all of these great individuals.
Lastly, I have to ask as a fellow Minnesotan, what is unique about Minnesota and how has it influenced your work? The creative community in the Twin Cities is outstanding, and really unlike anything I’ve found elsewhere. It’s really conducive to doing good work. I’m also a born-and-raised Midwesterner (I’m from Wisconsin), and I think just the laid-back, friendly vibe of the Midwest influences my work a lot and makes me want to create things for the people here. I’m really glad to be back.
As you may have noticed by reading through my other posts, I love art museums. In the past couple of months since I started Little Dipper, I have visited Chicago’s MCA, the Art Institute of Chicago, and Boston’s MFA. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw that the Walker Art Center was opening an exhibit called Graphic Design: Now in Production. My two favorite things! Plus, you’ve got to admit that the gift shop was gonna be stocked with some pretty nice stuff after an exhibit like that. And surely enough, it was. Even without the gift shop, however, the exhibit was great.
From infographics to logos to magazines to fonts, the exhibit encapsulated everything I wish could be in a museum, but normally isn’t. One of my favorite pieces in the exhibit was a series of posters done by Albert Exergian of iconic TV shows done in the minimalist Swiss style. You can actually see the entire collection and purchase prints of the posters here.
Another cool part of the exhibit was an interactive piece where you could make your own poster. There was a computer set up and linked to a printer of sorts, except it didn’t use ink, but rather cut circular holes out of sheets of white paper to form words and phrases. Viewers of the piece were able to personalize their own posters with
whatever they pleased (for free, which was awesome). I, of course, anticipated this very blog post and chose something appropriate: Little Dipper. And although the security lady yelled at me for making it too many lines (I guess you were supposed to stick to 3 or less), I was able to get a pretty great souvenir out of the deal. See below.
I’m sure there were more parts of the exhibit I could dote on, but, let’s be real, its always better in person. If you’re really interested in an expert’s opinion, check out the New York Times review of the show.
I don’t really have any new projects to post — at least not any good ones. I do, however, have another interview set up with Minnesota graphic designer, Nicole Meyer. I first heard about her and her Branding 10,000 Lakes project in this Star Tribune article. She has also been featured on FastCo design, so I am very honored that she agreed to do an interview with LD. Take a look and let me know if you have any questions for her! I’d be happy to pass on any that you may have.
Til next time, Liz
With a little help from Martha and a bit of elbow grease, I carved the perfect Jack-o-Lantern just in time for Halloween. While my mother claimed to have bought the pumpkin for a fun project for us to do, it ended up being my project as soon as my mother got too engrossed in Facebook to help out. I’m not bitter. But my arm is a little sore. Anyways, the template for the pumpkin came from a collection of patterns found on Martha Stewart’s website. I just downloaded it, printed it out, and taped it on just as people have been doing for centuries… Then came the poking holes around the edge of pattern, classic pumpkin carving move, and then, of course, the actual carving. To be fair, my mom did come in at the end to clean up the edges a little. I bet she felt pretty cool swooping in after I did all the heavy lifting. She had the benefit of her hand not shaking. So in the end, I guess it was a team effort.
He looks pretty cute, right? I mean scared, but still kinda cute. It is Halloween after all. He’s probably just scared that all the binging on trick-or-treating candy will lead to even more binging on Thanksgiving pie come November. This, in turn, will culminate in stuffing his face with Christmas cookies. Obviously, all of this holiday spirit is going to be a slippery slope for Mr. Pumpkin as he will also be wearing plenty of big puffy vests and chunky sweaters at this point hiding his overall swelling. Then, come Valentines day, no girl pumpkins will want to date him because, frankly, all he will fit in will be his sweat suits. I’m not sure if you guys can relate to the situation since that narrative is so specific to pumpkins, but I figured I would enlighten you all to the gourd/pumpkin lifestyle nonetheless.
Back to the design part of this bloggy blog. Here are the latest desktop patterns. Enjoy yo.
I’m going to keep it short tonight as its Thursday and the season finale of Project Runway is due to be on in about a half hour. My fingers are crossed for Viktor, but I still want to see all the final collections.
Anyways, I made some halloween desktop patterns and wanted to post them before Halloween is.. well, over. So here they are! (I told you I’d keep it short).
So yesterday, I may have been at Peace Coffee soaking up the hip atmosphere amidst a sea of cool young flannel-clad twenty-somethings with MacBooks, but today I’m back to my old haunt: the Eden Prairie Smith Douglas More House Dunn Bros.
Whew. That was quite the mouthful. That’s what she said. I’m sorry. I had to. Anywho, I am sleepy today and this coffee is barely cutting it. Plus, now its getting cold, the coffee I mean, not the weather. Boo. Cold coffee is the worst, unless of course it is ice coffee, in which case, it is the best.
To add to my overall discontent, the Internet is down, although, I seem to be the only one out of the five people with laptops in the room that seems to notice. So maybe its just me? I’m hopeful it will come back, but for now I am writing this post on Microsoft Word. I know. Lame. I actually just saved this document as “So yesterday,” which, as you can see, are the first two words of the first paragraph. To a computer, it makes sense that I would want to name my document after the first couple words of this post. However, to a human, this title is likely to conjure up memories of Hilary Duff’s loveable classic “So Yesterday,” now currently playing over and over again in my head.
Moving on, I just got back from Homecoming weekend in Evanston. It was wonderful to catch up with friends and consume copious amounts of pizza and beer. White and purple, white and purple. (Sorry I’m not sorry I just quoted Chet Haze). In classic Northwestern style, we did not win the game. In classic Liz Derby style, I did not stay to see the end of the game. Instead, my friend Zach coerced me into ducking out around half time and scarfing down Joy Yee’s crab rangoons and sesame chicken instead. I’m basically 100% sure that was the right decision.
Now that I’m back home, I think I’ll stay here for a while. Eight hours both ways alone in a minivan is an experience that no amount of This American Life podcasts can remedy. I knew that when adult diapers started seeming like a good idea, a la astronaut Lisa Nowak, I had maybe gotten in a little over my head. In the end, the trip was worth it, but I could definitely wait a while before attempting such a feat again.
I will now present you with my next set up desktop patterns. They are a variation on a leaf pattern I posted a couple weeks ago now. Variations on these designs are available for purchase in my Society6 store for those interested. Let me know if there are any not on Society6 that you are interested in and I will add them!
And now that thats done, I’m on to watching my TiVo’d Sing Off from this week. I love the Dartmouth Aires. Especially Michael, what a cutie.