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SCVNews.com | CalArts Student Wins Water Logo Design Contest | 03-16-2012
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The challenge: Design a new logo for the Santa Clarita Valley Family of Water Suppliers, one that captures the values and mission of the organization, and, as one of the group’s leaders says, “makes conservation cool.”

Challenge accepted. And met.

Melissa Kuo, a 19-year-old graphic design student at California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, submitted the winning logo in the SCV Family of Water Suppliers’ contest that invited students from CalArts, College of the Canyons and The Master’s College to create a new logo for the “Family.”

“I always thought conservation was cool,” Kuo said at a March 1 reception at Castaic Lake Water Agency (CLWA) headquarters in which the group honored her work and presented her with a giant check for the $2,500 prize. “I was actually in a conservation club in high school. At the time, conservation was just starting to get ‘cool,’ like the whole ‘go green’ movement.”

Kuo’s logo was one of more than 20 entries, and it’s now the official new logo of the SCV Family of Water Suppliers, a cooperative organization whose membership includes CLWA, Valencia Water Company, Santa Clarita Water Division, Newhall County Water District, Los Angeles County Waterworks Division No. 36, and the City of Santa Clarita.

The “Family” is committed to promoting efficient, sustainable water use in the SCV.

The logo Kuo created features an artfully drawn water drop, encircling the organization’s name as well as silhouettes representing figures holding hands, to symbolize family. Kuo also used the white space between the silhouettes to symbolize homes, another nod to the group’s family-oriented mission.

“The values of family, water and community — I broke those down into different words that I thought of, that related to those values,” Kuo said, adding it helped that one of her graphic design classes had just done a project on symbols and the use of “negative space,” the space around and between the subjects of a design.

Kuo was grateful for the recognition, and for the $2,500 prize, which will help ease the costs of her studies at CalArts. “This is really great encouragement,” she said.

“We’re thrilled that Melissa submitted her logo,” said Stephanie Anagnoson, Water Conservation Program Coordinator for CLWA. “We were taken by how she managed to elegantly combine the idea of ‘family’ with water. We also want to emphasize the degree of local talent that was available to us at the college level. It was truly impressive.”

Jason La Riva, Landscape Management District Specialist for the City of Santa Clarita, said Kuo captured the essence of what the group hopes to communicate through the new logo.

“When you look at the new logo Melissa has provided us, you can see instantly what we are reaching for,” La Riva said. “It’s opening doors and forging relationships. It helps let the community know that these organizations are all engaged with each other and looking forward to working with each other in the future.”

Cathy Z. Hollomon, Associate Water Resources Planner for CLWA’s Santa Clarita Water Division, said seeking ideas from local college students was the right way to go.

“We were looking for ‘pop,’” Hollomon said. “The whole point was to create something catchy. Considering the quality of the entries, I’m just really happy that we put it towards our young talent and that we tapped into our local resources, Master’s, COC and CalArts. It was the right thing to do.”

Robert McLaughlan, Customer Service and Water Efficiency Coordinator for the Newhall County Water District, said Kuo’s logo is more than just a contest winner: It’s going to get serious use in real-world outreach efforts as the water suppliers strive to meet the state’s goal of reducing per capita water consumption by 20 percent by the year 2020.

“I’ve already put the logo on material and I am uploading it to the website today,” McLaughlan said. “One of the things I really liked about Melissa’s logo is that it can stand alone. We won’t even have to say who it is. Once we start branding, this logo can stand alone — you can take the family out of it and when people see it they’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s the family.’”

Matt Dickens, Resource Conservation Manager for Valencia Water Company, said the shared values of community and family drive the Family of Water Suppliers’ efforts. “I think Melissa’s work was a real creative way, through symbols and pictures, to identify the community we are trying to create among the SCV Family of Water Suppliers as well as other participating members,” he said.

“When I saw the logo what I immediately thought was that water is essential not just to our ‘family,’ but to families in general,” Dickens said. “The idea that water is essential to community, to sustainability, is said right there. Water is imperative to the success and the sustainability of our community, and we are in this together. We’re all in this fishbowl together.”

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