University of Minnesota
January 11, 2012
Nicole Meyer conceived of her lake-logo-a-day project while living in Arizona ... and wishing she were back in Minnesota.
U alum is creating a new logo for a Minnesota lake every day
By Rick Moore
About five years ago Nicole Meyer did what many Minnesotans only dream about. She up and moved to Phoenix to sample a new landscape and, she says, to “get away from winter for a few years.”
Things were going fine for Meyer and her husband in the Valley of the Sun, at least for those few years, till suddenly Meyer started seeing lakes in the desert. At that point, something had to change.
A vision is born
Okay, Meyer wasn’t exactly seeing lakes in the sense of a cartoonish desert mirage. But she was feeling an overwhelming urge to return to the Land of Lakes—specifically, the Twin Cities metropolitan area and all its creative energy. So she conceived a project that would keep the essence of Minnesota on the top of her mind: designing a logo for a different lake in the state each day until … well, until there were no logo-less lakes.
“At that point, all I could think about was moving back here,” Meyer laughs. “I needed someplace to put that Minnesota energy.”
Meyer is roughly six months into her project, which leaves about 27 years left of dreaming up a logo a day. Yes, hers is an undertaking the size of Lake of the Woods, but so far it’s yielded some nice attention.
She thinks it probably helped her land her current job as a graphic designer at Periscope, and her logos have generated enough of a buzz that her website, branding10,000lakes.com, receives about 1,000 hits a day.
There you can view all of Meyer’s creations, which include subtle text treatments and clever imagery.
The Long and Short (and Round) of it
Meyer came about her design skills in roundabout fashion. She was a double major in art and in advertising through the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and originally pictured herself doing storyboards and animation for Disney, with advertising as her fallback career.
The deeper she got into her strategic communication classes, the more that notion reversed. And when she got an internship at a small agency in Phoenix, she taught herself graphic design skills.
Now, designing logos has become as routine as brushing her teeth.
Speaking of routine, Meyer starts by looking at the DNR’s LakeFinder website and picking a lake that intrigues her. After doing some research she starts the design, using a combination of Illustrator and Photoshop.
The whole process usually takes her a couple of hours, and she can do it while watching TV or listening to music.
“There are still definitely days when I get [a] complete block and nothing seems to work,” she says. “And there are days where it’s like a half hour and, boom.”
She generally works in the evening and posts the logo online before she goes to bed. And if she has evening plans with her husband? “Those end up being the nights where I’m up till 2 to 3 a.m. doing it,” she says.
Nearing 200, but who’s counting?
On day 174 of Branding 10,000 Lakes, Meyer took some time before work to meet for coffee and talk about her daily ritual. Later that evening she would create a logo for Twin Island Lake, and she posted it to the Branding 10,000 Lakes Facebook page at 2:01 a.m.
She was reminded that, even at age 27, she hasn’t yet been alive for 10,000 days, so that’s a big number for a logo output.
“It’s an undertaking, for sure,” she says. “I warn people that I don't know if I'm really going to do this for 27 years. But my goal is to take it as far as I can, learn some things along the way, and have fun with it.”
She has one other takeaway from all this: Phoenix, with its unending sun and heat, is overrated, and she’s happy to be back in Minnesota.
“I missed it here almost immediately,” she says. “I just missed the creative community up here and the cities in general. It was one of those [situations where] you don’t know what you have till it’s gone.”