Upping our Outreach Game: The Story of the Fox Banner

The following post is by a guest blogger, Dougal Walker, Internet & Communications Manager at the Wisconsin DNR.

I’m Dougal Walker, one of the DNR employees behind the scenes (perhaps waaay behind the scenes) that make this project happen. Part of my job is to maintain web pages and help facilitate communication between project staff and externally with volunteers and stakeholders. Working with the Snapshot project is one of the favorite parts of my job, and it has been rewarding to watch it succeed.

I try to notice the little things in life, and think of the people and processes that make them happen. One of the things I notice almost obsessively is aesthetic design: fonts, color, shapes, context, and so on. When I look around my office, I realize that every single thing in sight was designed by humans. Somebody, somewhere, at some time thought out the ceiling tile texture, computer key font, junk mail layout, water bottle shape, and tissue box graphic. We take design for granted because it’s everywhere in our lives, but there must be a whole bunch of people tucked away somewhere designing all this!

I was excited when I got the chance to be one of those design people. The Snapshot Wisconsin team recently came to me for ideas on engaging audiences at outreach and recruitment events. We met and considered a number of ideas for displays, and settled on a large pull-up banner. Once we figured out what we’d make, the real fun began.

We had a blank slate. What do we put on the banner? What do we want to communicate? What’s the function of this thing, anyway? Let’s start there.

We concluded that the banner would best serve as an “attention getter.” We wanted to be careful not to overload the banner with too much text to read, but also needed to convey what the project is. I tapped our talented graphic designer Michelle Voss (and her lovely Mac) for help with the graphics. We tossed around a few ideas and created a number of mock-ups that went back and forth between us and the Snapshot Wisconsin team.

In the midst of this process, gazing up in thought at the ceiling tiles in contemplation, I started to wonder if we could somehow incorporate an image mosaic into the poster. You know, one of those pictures made out of bunch of other little pictures? How do they do that?

I did some research and found a software program to build mosaic images automatically. I asked the project team for a whole bunch of trail camera photos and they provided thousands to work with. We tried to make the Snapshot Wisconsin logo into a mosaic of photos, but it looked a bit messy. If we were going to make a good mosaic, we’d need to give it a lot of space and find something well-defined to represent. Michelle found the fox face photo, and it worked great.

michelle_banner

Michelle with an early version she printed and taped together.

OutreachEvent

Susan and Christina with the finished banner at an outreach event in Fall 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

The last step in our process was to have our design professionally printed and assembled. Our hope is that the fox mosaic made from actual Snapshot Wisconsin trail camera photos draws attention and generates interest in the project. Since the banner’s design is universal, the team can use it at events with a variety of audiences, like educators, volunteers, and researchers. We had fun working on this project and hope you enjoy the final product – click here for a closer view!

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About Christina Locke

Researcher and program coordinator for Snapshot Wisconsin.

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