April 22, 2016  |   Call to Artists
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DSM, IA: The City of Des Moines Public Works Department has launched a contest to design a storm water manhole cover that will used throughout the City. The manhole cover will incorporate artwork in the Center that raises awareness about water quality in the City of Des Moines.


Why Are We Adding Art to Storm Drain Manhole Covers?

Storm water pollution has a big impact on the water quality in Des Moines urban waterways. It is a common misconception that storm water runoff from streets, parking lots, and driveways flows to a treatment plant before it is released to the environment. The reality is that storm water, and all the pollution it carries (including litter, pet waste, lawn fertilizers, leaves, grass clippings, automobile oils, and road salt), flows directly or indirectly to local creeks, streams, and rivers untreated. It is important that citizens know that every day activities can be polluting storm water runoff. To learn more about storm water pollution and how you can help.


Deadline for Submission

All designs, with Artist Agreement must be received by May 31, 2016 to be considered.


Submission Guidelines

The design will be used in the center circle of a manhole cover with the water quality message printed around the design. The manhole covers will be completed in cast iron, so all designs must be submitted in black and white.


The artwork and messaging submitted should help raise awareness that anything entering storm drains flows directly to a local creek, stream, or river and effects Des Moines’ urban water quality. There are 3 options for submissions: 1. Design and storm water message. 2. Design only or 3. Storm water message only. Note that the storm water message is limited to 20 characters, including spaces, in each of the upper and lower text area.


Who Can Submit a Design? 

The contest is open to anyone who lives, works, or attends school within the boundaries of Des Moines, Iowa. City employees and their immediate family members are not eligible.


How Do I Submit?

You can submit your designs by mail or email.

BY MAIL: The design should be submitted on paper as a 6” diameter circle. (Note: the actual circle size on the manhole cover is larger). In order to have a design considered for this contest, it must be accompanied by the completed Artist Agreement Form. The Artist Agreement Form can be downloaded from the City of Des Moines’ website or mailed to you by calling 515-283-4950. The design submission along with a completed Artist Agreement Form can be mailed or hand-delivered to: Adam Smith | City of Des Moines Public Works | 216 SE 5th Street | Des Moines, IA 50309

BY EMAIL: You may send your art (high-resolution PDF or other Adobe File) with your completed and signed Artist Agreement Form to [email protected].


How Will the Winners Be Selected?

The winning artist(s) will be determined by a selection panel made up of employees of Des Moines, IA, designees, and elected officials. The winning design will be chosen based on the relevance of the water quality protection message, the design’s connection to Des Moines, Iowa, and overall appearance. All designs will be submitted to the selection panel through a numbering system and will be reviewed anonymously. The winning design as well as other notable designs will be recognized on the City of Des Moines website and put on display at a location to be determined.

The winning design(s) may be modified to fit manhole specifications or combined with other designs to create the best overall message for Des Moines. In this case, more than one winner may be selected. If your design requires modification, you will be contacted and invited to participate in the process.