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Protecting the American River

Interpretive Sign Design Illustration Layout

As an intern graphic designer for the Office of Water Programs at Sacramento State, I was tasked with a project that informs students, faculty, and other individuals in the community about the university's efforts in managing stormwater runoff into the local rivers. Specifically, the project is an informative sign that is 24 by 36 inches and illustrates beneficial uses of the nearby American River, as well as descriptions of current methods being used to manage stormwater runoff into the river to keep it clean and safe for everyone.


The American River starts high in the Sierra west of Lake Tahoe and ends where it joins the Sacramento River north of downtown. Gold was discovered on this river at Coloma, about 50 river miles upstream of Sacramento State.


Like most water bodies, the American River is used in multiple ways. The beneficial uses assigned to this stretch of the river are both human-based and ecosystem-based.

A big challenge with this project was working with and balancing the large amounts of copy from the researchers with the different illustrations and photographs that I produced my self. In order to manage all of this information I first designed a grid and appointed different levels of hierarchy to each section of information. Using color to categorize different areas of the illustrated map helps viewers identify each activity with its corresponding use of the river. The sign was produced and is currently being displayed on campus near the Guy West Bridge along the American River to inform all those who pass by.

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