Thursday, February 23, 2012

New Design: Exploring Portland's Natural Areas

This was a fun project. After following his blog for some months, I got to meet science historian Michael Barton at the ScienceOnline 2011 conference. He's a really nice fellow, and we keep in touch via Facebook and Twitter. It's easy to see how dedicated a parent he is by following along with the outdoor adventures he has with his son, Patrick, at his blog Exploring Portland's Natural Areas. As a fellow evolution geek, I also appreciate his work on Darwin scholarship at the Dispersal of Darwin.

Michael and I had a brief email exchange last fall in which he wrote about some graphic ideas he had to promote the Nature Play movement. Bringing children into nature is something I wholeheartedly believe in, so I was thrilled to design something for him. After much hemming, hawing, and doodling, a strong graphic idea hit me. Many of my own memorable moments in nature had to do with little things: finding a beautiful fungus, coming face to face with a box turtle when cresting a ridge in Morgan-Monroe State Forest. Or the time I was captivated by a brilliant blue ribbon winding through blades of grass, followed it, and welcomed a Five-Lined Skink into the palm of my hand. One of Michael's ideas was a child with a magnifying glass, but none of my attempts in this direction worked. That day with that skink was stuck in my mind, though, so I decided to bring focus tightly on the connection between child and environment.

Nature Play graphic 2

Since Michael writes about his local adventures, I placed the silhouette within the shape of the state of Oregon. You can see it in his blog header, which incorporates the classic typeface Clarendon to evoke the signage of the National Park Service. I had strong memories of visiting parks as a child. Since starting my studies, I've taken every chance I can to hone my ability to communicate efficiently: designs that work well with a minimum number of elements. This was one of the most satisfying projects I've done in the last year, and the fact that it's for a good cause, well, that's the mashed potatoes and the gravy.

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