This week, I’d like to share a special interpretive signage project I recently completed.
Last summer, my clients at the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council near Bend, Oregon, contacted me with a specific request: they wanted an interpretive sign on the topic of stewardship, and they wanted to use student-created artwork and poetry.
I’ve discovered over the years in my business that using student work for an interpretive project—or any design project—requires a special touch. Sometimes, people are surprised to find out such projects often involve more time and can end up costing more in the long run. They are not merely design projects, they are learning experiences as well.
But, if done right, it is most definitely worth it.
In this case, it worked out great. The Watershed Council staff and their partners spent a lot of time working with the students, and they generated spectacular results. It was my job to take their finished work and tie it all together, designing a sign to feature the artwork—adding one illustration of my own for context—and to make the topic complete.
To give a background and context for the more imaginative student work, I painted a watercolor of the mountains and the headwaters of Whychus Creek.
The other illustrations were done by high-school and middle school students.I particularly liked the center mandala. If you look at it closely, you will see it is amazingly intricate, with gorgeously designed elements pertaining to the river and the life it supports.
And the salmon! Each one has its own wild design within the contour of the species—truly an artistic expression of the concept of Wild.
Equally compelling were the poems.
“This place is a home,
to the fractured
and the ones who
one of their own.”
-Alaina Todd, Sisters High School.
For me, this poem is deeply affecting. It really says it all—why we so desperately need to preserve the wild places left on earth. The Wild is our home.
Our only home, in so many ways.