Process: Samo Ducky

When Red Dot Sculpture approached us to design an online hub for the Samo Ducky Project and their other large scale community projects, we couldn’t say yes fast enough! The Samo Ducky Project is a Norman Public Arts Board-led initiative to place artist-enhanced duck sculptures in public parks across the city to help foster social interaction, develop arts awareness, and beautify Norman’s public spaces.

 Initial Samo sketch by artist Douglas Shaw Elder

Initial Samo sketch by artist Douglas Shaw Elder

 Original Samo sculpture render

Original Samo sculpture render

The project is near and dear to my non-profit, community-oriented heart and I’ve been fortunate to watch its development from sketched concept to 21 completed ducks since 2010. Based on the concept of Chicago’s CowParade public art exhibit, the Samo Ducky Project took a familiar concept and made it totally local: from start to finish, every aspect of the project is produced in Norman.

Designing the website was the best kind of challenge - we had a massive amount of content and images to work through and were tasked with organizing a website that could deliver information about the project and its story through a user-friendly experience. We really built this whole site from the ground up; photography, content development, branding, and web design were all on our plate. Imperative to the design was building a website that focused on the Samo Ducky Project, while still serving as a space for Red Dot Sculpture’s other community projects. The final site has many layers of content that unfold as the user explores, with the most pertinent information at the forefront. Visitors to the site can quickly access applications for new duck proposals, view galleries of previous ducks, and find the location of each duck’s park.

The site isn’t all about the duck project though! It’s also the main source of information for Red Dot’s innovative foil sculpting project. Foil sculpting initially began as a challenge between Red Dot Sculpture artists Richard McKown and Douglas Shaw Elder to see what could be done with a utilitarian medium to push the boundaries of creativity. They then began to challenge others to explore their own creativity with a single sheet of foil. Later, Douglas introduced foil sculpting as a group “art activity” due to the accessibility of the medium; its low cost makes it attainable and the familiarity of the material makes it much less intimidating than “traditional” artistic mediums.

Aesthetically, we worked to develop a brand that was spirited and indicative of the joy behind Samo Ducky and Red Dot’s other projects, while meeting the standards of excellence expected of publicly-funded and grant-supported projects. The final brand and website for Samo Ducky is playful, versatile, and accessible, allowing for multiple creative initiatives operating under the “Samo” moniker to be connected through the logo and web content. The final mark emphasizes the Samo name, while allowing the subsequent title to change for future conceptual projects such as the “Samo Cast” podcast.

After we designed the brand and website, I was later selected by a juried panel to be one of the Spring 2015 participating artists, chosen to paint one of the sculptures following my proposed "Drake Ducky" design. My duck, Drake Ducky, is now located at the Little Axe Community Center.

You can view the live site and learn more about the Samo Ducky Project and other creative community initiatives at samoducky.com.