Your Chance to Design an Icon for the L.A. River


Photo from iconathon.org.

Symbols are powerful visual cues that many of us often take for granted. More than text-based language, just the right lines and squiggles put together can share a world of information that works both in the physical and the digital realms. Just think of all the signs that you come across every day, while driving on the road or even while tinkering on your smartphone.

This July 21, as part of Bloomfest L.A., an annual community celebration in the Arts District, the Noun Project, an online repository that makes symbols available for use in the public domain, in collaboration with Los Angeles River advocates, will host the Iconathon -- a five-hour "hacking" session to design icons that can potentially be used in future L.A. river signage, smartphone apps, and many other applications.

"We wanted to build excitement around the river and educate the public of the work being done to redevelop and revitalize it, and to create a set of universally recognized signage that communicates vital information about the river to a multi-ethnic population," says Edward Boatman, co-founder & Creative Director for the Noun Project. "Creating signage and a wayfinding system can help communicate the locations of river walks, help protect wildlife and help identify storm drains that flow into the river" Boatman continues, commenting on possible uses of the symbols.

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Despite its name's tech-y slash art-y connotations, Boatman and co-founder Sofya Polyakov emphasize that attendees don't need to be design gurus to join -- they just need basic stick-figure drawing skills and an opinion. People will be grouped alongside trained designers and artists who will help them flesh out their ideas.

Though no promises have been made to actually use these icons in upcoming projects, Polyakov says The Noun Project has been working with "the City of L.A, Friends of the L.A. River, L.A. Creek Freak, the L.A. River Revitalization Corporation, and the landscape architects at Mia Lehrer & Associates to make sure these symbols will be as useful as possible for the revitalization efforts." That's at least a step in the right direction.

L.A. River Iconathon will be held at LALA Gallery, which usually hosts the work of street artists JR, Roa, and Shepard Fairey. The event runs from 11 am to 4 pm. It is free and open to the public. Sign up for the event here.


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