MINNESOTA: A logo for every lake

MINNEAPOLIS -- Nicole Meyer has her free time mapped out for the next 27 years. That's how long she estimates it will take her to reach her goal of designing a logo a day for every lake in Minnesota.

Nicole Meyer
While away from Minnesota working in Arizona, advertising designer Nicole Meyer launched a personal project in which she designed a logo a day for a Minnesota lake. Now back in the state, she's keeping the project going, estimating that will take her 27 years to complete and that's only if she maintains her current seven-day-a-week production.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Nicole Meyer has her free time mapped out for the next 27 years. That's how long she estimates it will take her to reach her goal of designing a logo a day for every lake in Minnesota.

"One thing is for sure: I don't have to worry about running out (of lakes)," she said. "There's almost an endless supply of them."

A Wisconsin native who fell in love with the state while attending the University of Minnesota, Meyer started the project as a way of reconnecting with the area while working at an advertising agency in Arizona. Now back in Minneapolis, she's determined to keep it going.

Every day, she picks a lake, researches it, designs its logo and posts it on the website Lake associations have expressed interest in buying the rights to the logos of their lakes for T-shirts or signs, and Meyer is considering their offers. But the point of this has never been to make money, she insisted.

After she and her husband graduated from the university, they moved to Phoenix, "where it was way too warm," said Meyer, 27. "We missed it up here. In April, we started thinking about moving back, and the more that idea permeated my thoughts, the more I needed an outlet for it.


"I thought I'd start a personal project focusing on Minnesota," said Meyer, whose work in Phoenix included designing logos for the Arizona Office of Tourism and the state's health department. "And the first thing that came to mind was the lakes."

Getting started

Each logo starts with a visit to the DNR's LakeFinder website. Sometimes, a name will jump out at her -- "Dead Coon Lake is one of my favorites," she said -- but usually she's looking for lakes for which she can find historical data or other information that can be used to distinguish, say, one Long Lake from the 100-plus other Long Lakes.

"The challenge is in dealing with the duplicates," she said. "But there's always something differentiating them that I can figure out."

Her creative process varies. From finding a lake to posting the completed logo typically takes two to four hours. She prefers to work in the evening, but if that time is booked for something else, she gets up early so she can do it before leaving for her job as a graphic designer at an advertising agency.

Sometimes, she starts with lettering; other times, the image comes first. And sometimes, she does the entire design on her computer, while in other instances she sketches the image on paper, then scans it into the computer.

The only constant is that she does one logo every day. At least, so far.

"I've come close to missing a couple of times," she admitted. "I've fallen asleep on the couch, and then I'll wake up about 10 p.m. and say, 'Oh, God! I've got to get this done.'"


Daily grind

The pressure to post daily is not just part of her drive to maintain her consecutive-day string. After her project was mentioned in the ad industry blog the Minneapolis Egotist -- a report that was picked up by the 20 associated Egotist blogs in other cities -- her personal project went public.

Now there are people looking for each day's posting. Her website averages more than 2,000 hits a day, plus 1,200 daily visits to an accompanying Facebook page.

"This has taken on a life of its own," she said. "I can't quit now."

Looking to the future -- waaaay to the future -- does she have any thoughts about her next project?

"Someone suggested that once I finish the lakes, I should start on the rivers," she said. She shook her head before adding: "I think I'm going to be pretty burned out on waterways by then."

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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