There’s nothing I love more than when design and activism collide, so I was immediately excited about getting our designers involved in the Storm Inlet Painting Project here in downtown Sioux Falls. 

If you’ve never heard of this project, here’s what you need to know: Stormwater runoff in Sioux Falls is a major contributor to the pollution of the Big Sioux River. Everything that washes down the drains goes directly into the river untreated—cigarette butts, lawn fertilizer, animal waste, etc. The Storm Inlet Painting Project creates awareness about water pollution through good public design, so it was a perfect fit for our Lemonly team.

We used our monthly Creative Workshop to get started. Each of our designers took their designated hour during the workshop to create a design proposal for a storm drain inlet. Many of us submitted designs, and we secured all five adult entry spots for the 2019 Storm Inlet Painting Project.

As I mentioned, this project was a perfect fit for us as Lemonly designers. We tell stories through design every day, and we believe good design leads the viewer to a conclusion without forcing them; it encourages the viewer to analyze the design longer to find its meaning. We applied this approach to our storm drain inlet designs: Instead of using obvious imagery or text, each of our designs emphasize the beauty of the river and our connection to it.

Here’s what each of our designers had to say about their piece and the experience of painting our murals throughout downtown Sioux Falls.


I’m a huge fan of anything that brings more art into DTSF, especially when it communicates about an important cause. It was a lot of hard work, but so rewarding to be a part of something with a greater purpose alongside my coworkers!

My design shows an active loop between the road and the river, both populated with life. This depiction reminds viewers where our streets’ water leads, and shows both communities thriving in coexistence.


This was such a neat experience. While painting, I had so many people stop and say, “Thank you!”, which was totally unexpected. It felt great to be a part of the project, and kudos to the City of Sioux Falls for investing the resources to make it happen.

I wanted to visually emphasize the connection between the river and humanity. In this piece, the river is “literally” born from the free-flowing hair of the woman, who stands submerged in her own river. She reaches out to touch the sky, again establishing the connection between Mother Earth and us.


Not only does this project create awareness, it also brings joy to passersby. I frequently see people taking a moment to look closer and take photos with the inlets. It makes me smile every time!

I approached this project using bold visuals and a limited color palette. I kept the imagery simple and symbolic to describe the relationship between land, water, and living creatures. Using color blocking and lines to move the viewer’s eye through the piece, I illustrated the connection between all things.


Cleaning up our rivers is something that matters to me, so this was a great opportunity for me to use design to support the cause. I’m honored to have my work displayed in a public place, and had a great deal of fun working in a format I don’t typically get to try.

I combined geometric shapes with a minimal, bright color palette to create a sense of unity in my design. Some elements are more easily identified, while others are more ambiguous as to whether they are part of nature, or pollution. Some pollution is easy to see, but much of it is invisible to the naked eye.


In this design, at first glance, viewers see rain boots reflected by the shallow puddles of rain. But as we look closer, these pools of water actually house fish, who depend on the same water we come in contact with. This reminds us to pause and reflect on the fact that we share this resource with nature.

Since I work remotely from Vancouver, Brett helped bring my design to life in Sioux Falls near Lemonly HQ.

Find more work from our Lemonly designers on Dribbble, and browse the blog for more about our monthly creative workshop and how we use design to get involved in the community.

See one of our storm inlet paintings in the wild? Tag us on Instagram or send us a tweet.