Graphic design student wins city’s Let’s Paint the Town logo contest, inspired by Clock Tower

Two student runners-up use skills in traditional sign painting, comics
UW-Stout student Natalie Shofner's winning logo design for Let's Paint the Town.
December 16, 2021

When it’s time for the Menomonie festival Let’s Paint the Town in 2022, one University of Wisconsin-Stout student’s colorful design will shine.

A logo designed by Natalie Shofner, a junior graphic design and interactive media major from Hastings, Minn., was picked by a mural committee to represent the event scheduled July 22-23. The logo will be featured on merchandise and publicity materials.

Natalie Shofner
Natalie Shofner receives her award at City Hall for the winning Let's Paint the Town logo. / UW-Stout photo

Let’s Paint the Town celebrates downtown Menomonie and will include business sales, a flea market, a juried art market, car show and live music.

A few new downtown murals are also expected to be painted for the event, according to Menomonie Mural Committee Chair Sylvia Gegenbach, who owns Town and Country Antiques. The event is being organized by the committee, Downtown Menomonie, the Greater Menomonie Area Chamber of Commerce, the city of Menomonie and the Dunn County Tourism Board.

UW-Stout students were sought to make the logo to bring the city together with the university, said Cynthia Bland, professor of art and art history and a member of the committee.

Dan Nesja logo design
Dan Nesja's logo / Contributed image

“We wanted to get students involved in Let’s Paint the Town and encourage faculty and staff to volunteer,” Bland said.

Shofner said her inspiration for the logo design came from the UW-Stout Clock Tower because she enjoys hearing the bells when she is on or near campus. “It is a reminder of how lucky I am to be in such a challenging program,” Shofner said. “I am very proud of what I have learned in the graphic design program at Stout.”

The logo shows the city’s downtown skyline with the colors red, purple, green and blue around it.

Shofner, who was awarded $200, entered for the challenge of the contest and also to add the logo to her portfolio.

Dan Nesja
Dan Nesja was influenced by vintage sign painting for his logo. / UW-Stout

The first runner-up was Dan Nesja, a senior graphic design major from Mount Horeb, and the second runner-up was Lauren Sassi, a senior majoring in studio art and comics from Appleton. Both were awarded $25 in Menomonie chamber bucks. A total of 10 student logos were submitted for the contest.

Nesja said he liked how his logo, which has the words of the event in red, blue, purple and green, turned out.

“I love the traditional sign painting method. I wanted to express my interest in that,” he said.  I did some hand lettering for it. I really wanted to put my personal style that I enjoy out into the world and express myself.”

Lauren Sassi logo / Contributed image

Sassi was inspired by woodland animals in the area while creating her logo, which has a cartoon rabbit and raccoon with a paintbrush. “I take a lot of inspiration from old comics such as Pogo. I just like showing people my art and enjoy sharing it.”

Chancellor Katherine Frank, who attended the awards ceremony on Dec. 8 along with Menomonie Mayor Randy Knaack, said she enjoyed how the contest helped tie the university and community together, creating important collaborations and making sure the city and university succeed.

“It showcases what our students do at UW-Stout,” Frank said. “Every time I see our students’ work, I am so impressed by the professionalism. It’s powerful. It’s what they are going to be doing once they graduate. It’s a great moment to celebrate. Congratulations to our students.”

Lauren Sassi photo
Lauren Sassi at the contest announcement. / UW-Stout photo

Knaack agreed that collaboration is key between the city and UW-Stout. “We look forward to embracing more collaboration in the future,” he said.

Bland will be teaching a Graffiti and Street Art course from Monday, May 16, to Sunday, June 5, and believes students in the class will be creating murals around the downtown area. Wade Lambrigsten, owner of the Vintage Sign Shop, N4526 Highway Y, Menomonie, and a UW-Stout alumnus, will co-teach the class.

Bland said she was impressed by the students’ logos.

“All of them were great,” she said. “The students did a great job, and they did this work for the contest on their own time.”

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