Yesterday, we were on a video conference call with Nicole Lavelle and some Portland State University students, and one of them posed an interesting question. Ethan (or was it Joe?) wanted to know how our aesthetics were influenced as a result of being “so isolated” in Green River (minus through the internet, obviously). Our answer didn’t quite make any sense- I think we said something about being influenced by our network of colleagues and other designers - blah blah blah. However, after thinking about this question, we’ve come up with a few answers:
1. Just like most designers everywhere, we’re influenced by our literal surroundings. This includes the landscape, desert plants & animals, petroglyphs & pictographs, river rafting, etc.
2. We’re influenced by the region’s National and State Parks. Green River is in close proximity to Canyonlands, Zion, Arches, Capitol Reef, and Goblin Valley. Not only are the breath-taking landscapes influential, but the parkitecture is pretty fascinating as well.
3. Though physically isolated (60 miles of desert in all directions), Green River is very well connected through Amtrak, Greyhound, the river, and Interstate-70. This results in many tourists and visitors to Green River as well as giving locals multiple avenues to explore the region. Even the graphic design of Amtrak’s posters and logo influences us!
4. Green River has it’s own strong aesthetic- hand painted signs, the abandoned missile base, old roadside motels, a “log cabin” house, a brightly painted river raft guide bunkhouse, taxidermy, the old Bible Church, neon signs, trailer parks, the river beach, the eccentric coffee shop, huge signs visible from the interstate, and historic concrete masonry commercial buildings. Although a lot of visitors see Green River as “run-down,” it inspires us daily in big and small ways.
5. The region has many culturally rich towns that we look to for inspiration including Palisade (CO), Fruita (CO), Glenwood Springs (CO), Ouray (CO), and Moab (UT). Nearby, there are even smaller towns than Green River including Thompson Springs, Hanksville, and Cisco. They have a similar aesthetic to Green River, and we love visiting and photographing these little towns.
4. Epicenter receives publications like the Moab Times Independent and High Country News. It keeps us hip to some of the regional happenings and exposes us to the West’s aesthetic on a regular basis.
5. We have a lot of influencers in Green River and neighboring communities that are designers, screen printers, musicians, photographers, and even just normal people. The region is not a cultural vacuum. It’s just that unlike in urban areas, there are few venues to socialize regularly outside of church, school, and work. Interesting people are here. You just have to get to know them.
Thanks, Ethan (or Joe) for the question. It really got us thinking, obviously. We’re not in Green River to force outside ideas on the town that already has it’s own culture and values. We strive provide contextually appropriate design solutions that don’t compromise our values.
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