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Design Journal No. 116 / Spring 2017 ISSN 1520-4243


Society for News Design Publications Director

Douglas Okasaki looks to the future, and Sara Quinn reflects on industry evolution over the years

Julie M. Elman Associate Professor School of Visual Communication Ohio University Athens, Ohio

6 KNIGHT FOUNDATION GRANT Largest grant awarded in SND’s history will help broaden the organization’s reach


Contributors (thank you!)

8-53 Stories about the driving forces that compel us to take those big leaps in our creative lives

Sara Quinn, Jeff Goertzen, Tracy Collins, Martin Gee, Stephanie Grace Lim, Rodrigo Sánchez, Sam Hundley, Joe Zeff, Ádrian Álvarez, Tim Harrower, Stacy Innerst, Tippi Thole, Ron Reason, Archie Tse, Dave Eames, Jennifer GeorgePalilonis, Aviva Loeb, Jane Mitchell, Mike Rhode, John Grimwade, Kaitlin Jackson, David Sebo, Alexa Miller, Sarah Erickson Phillip Ritzenberg, Nigel Holmes, Adrienne Tong, David Kordalski, Josh Crutchmer, Douglas Okasaki and Jon Wile

10 18 22 25 28 30 32 34 37 38 40 45 46


Sara Quinn, Stephen Komives and Jody Grenert

The competition moves from Syracuse to St. Petersburg; an eBook about the competition experience is now available Illustrations by Martin Gee. See pages 10–17 to catch up on how Gee, and other visual journalists, have evolved since they were first interviewed about their creative lives in 2004.

Design Journal • Spring 2017

to be going, by Phillip Ritzenberg

50 A Blue Brit, with Nigel Holmes 52 Of note, with Adrienne Tong

Special thanks to …


Creativity (re)defined, compiled by Tracy Collins Observations on design + life, by Tippi Thole Getting the job done, with Jeff Goertzen Changing with the (ny)times, with Archie Tse Footnotes, by Ron Reason Forging a new path, with Dave Eames From “no!” to “go!” with Jennifer George-Palilonis One experiment … major life change, by Mike Rohde Mini Q/A, with Aviva Loeb “Actually, I like it,” with John Grimwade Still rockin' 'n' rollin', with David Kordalski Mini Q/A, with Jane Mitchell What we need to learn, for where we seem

Julie M. Elman, SND’s publication director, teaches design at the School of Visual Communication at Ohio University. A few years ago, she started playing the banjo, clawhammer style. It was love at first strum. “Better late than never,” she says.


About the Journal

Changing it up over the passage of time

Design Journal is published by the Society for News Design. We encourage readers to submit articles, illustrations and pages. Material may be edited for space. We’re OK with reasonable copying of information from this publication for educational purposes only. Opinions expressed in the magazine do not necessarily reflect those of the Society or its officers.


ometimes — more often than I’d like to admit — I have thoughts about chucking it all and trying something completely different. These are musings that first cropped up when I was around 6 years old, and I used to fantasize about buying a one-way ticket to Australia. (I have absolutely no idea why I was fixated on that country in particular, truth be told). These days, my throw-it-all-to-the-wind vision is fixated on a five-year walk around the world. (Seriously.) Transition inspires me. Just reading the definition of that word brings out the instant “Yes!” in me. Transition is inevitable, as all change is, but oftentimes difficult to instigate. It’s endlessly fascinating for me to learn how people push back against inertia and move through the Part A’s of their lives, right on through the alphabet. This is what this issue focuses on — the Parts B, C, D and so on — of how visual creatives make their way through the process of change, whether it comes about by deliberate choices or serendipity. I’m honored that for this issue, Phillip Ritzenberg, one of SND’s co-founders and past presidents, has contributed his take on transition, 10 years after he wrote the article “What We’ve Learned from Where We’ve Been,” which was first published in this magazine. So much has changed in the industry during this past decade — and through our navigating of the turning tides, we continue to find our ways to forge ahead and redefine.

The Society for News Design invents, makes, promotes and teaches the world’s best visual journalism. Founded in 1979, we are an international organization for news media professionals and visual communicators. SND hosts the annual Best of News Design competitions, which are open to newspapers, magazines, news sites and apps from around the world. Our annual workshop attracts national and international visual journalists. Join us today at!

Please recycle this magazine after you’ve absorbed the transformational stories here. Thank you.

Julie M. Elman • Design Journal



Buckle up for the ride


elcome 2017! We are off on the right foot this year with support from the Knight Foundation. We’re grateful to them for the largest grant in SND history. It will allow us to invest in training opportunities and to reposition SND as a digital leader in sharing best practices in design.

Are you ready for the SND Charlotte workshop in April? Please join us for a new experience in our workshop history: a mix of information and adventure in a natural environment. Learn about visual leadership and collaboration in the great outdoors. After that, take a spin by NASCAR. Cool! More change? Yes! After many years in snowy Syracuse, The Best of News Design competition judging took place in sunny St. Hey! That’s Douglas Okasaki! Ready for 2017! Petersburg, Florida. I hope you didn’t miss this competition and World Infographics chance to participate in the biggest Summit. We’re planning the firstnews design competition in the ever SND London event toward the world. Your work must be seen! end of the year, along with a new Speaking of competition, the design for We promise to SND student competition has keep you updated with all events expanded, bringing the Michigan and news. State University and University of It is exciting to work together Missouri student design contests with such talented officers — together, under the full SND Tyson Evans and Paige Connor. umbrella. All university students can They will surely leave their mark participate, worldwide. in SND history, and I am proud This promises to be a great year to work with them. A big thanks for visual journalism. We celebrate goes to Immediate Past President the 25th anniversary of the Malofiej


Design Journal • Spring 2017

Sara Quinn for all of her follow-ups and attention to detail during this past year. Her expertise will help us innovate and flourish in the years ahead. And here you are, holding this magazine in print. We ask that you help support this publication by renewing your membership, donating time and talent, advertising in it and of course, contributing creative content. In this issue, Julie M. Elman presents a very touching topic: Transition. Everybody has their own experiences with this, whether painful or pleasurable, good or bad — but any transition can be, at the end, positive. We grow when we leave our comfort zone. This is my transition into my year as SND president. You are invited to be part of it. SND exists because of you, and you are my reason to be here. Participate, suggest, volunteer, be part of it. You are most welcome to the family of SND! Best, Douglas Okasaki


“A whole new ball of wax.”

Moving right along here. … There’s bound to be something in this issue that’ll inspire you. Take the leap, turn the page.

T H E OF F IC ER S President DOUGLAS OKASAKI Senior Designer Gulf News Dubai, United Arab Emerites

Starting at a young age, Sara Quinn, above, talked design shop with her father, Charlie Dickenson (circa 1952) and got the design bug early on. Dickenson embraced many changes over the years.


y students asked me the other day why I’d gone into journalism and design. I told them about my father — a “commercial” artist, who had gone to the Ray Vogue School of Design in Chicago after serving in WWII. Art director at our hometown paper, he was an expert with an airbrush and technical design — a quiet man who was curious about how the world worked and how he could help to explain it. I was 5 years old when I first visited the composing rooms at The Wichita Eagle-Beacon. It was 1969. Design involved hot type, engravings and a roomful of men racing around to assemble the news of the day. (Yes, all men.) One of my dad’s friends gave me a strip of heavy, colored paper with the impression of a comic strip on it — I think it was “Nancy” or “Pogo.” It was all bumpy and amazingly cool. The process, my dad explained, involved pouring molten metal onto the paper mat to produce an engraving that would go on the printing press. It was magic, and it was mine. I took it home and practiced drawing some of the letters in the comic strip bubbles. (Cue romantic music for my

love affair with type). Four years later, my dad left his job during a seismic change in the way newspapers around the world were printed: Hot type changed to cold. Phototypesetting was interesting, he said, and “a whole new ball of wax.” He opened his own studio and set about mastering new techniques of design and new ways to explain things for all manner of clients. By the time he retired, 20-some years later, I was design director of the same local newspaper. Dad and I had plenty to talk about, including the airbrush-like possibilities of Photoshop, the wonders of the Mac and “this whole Web thing.” He faced and embraced a careerchanging shift in technology and the industry he loved, so much. And he set a great example. • • •

Our industry evolves. It always has and it ain’t done yet. SND’s Print Publications Director Julie M. Elman has set before you a celebration of changing times. Enjoy. Sincerely, Sara Quinn

Vice President TYSON EVANS Senior Editor for Opinion Product and Strategy The New York Times New York, New York Secretary/Treasurer PAIGE CONNOR Product Manager at CQ Roll Call Washington, D.C. Immediate Past President SARA QUINN R.M. Seaton Chair Kansas State University Manhattan, Kansas SND Foundation President TRACY COLLINS Director Phoenix Design Studio at Gannett Phoenix, Arizona SND Executive Director STEPHEN KOMIVES* Society for News Design 424 E. Central Blvd. Suite 406 Orlando, FL 32801 * Send address changes to Stephen Komives

B E C OM E A M E M B E R T O D AY ! There are lots of reasons why you should consider joining SND, including receiving discounts to workshops, invitations to participate in the annual competition, networking and mentoring opportunities, a copy of the annual “The Best of News Design” book and copies of Design Journal. Go to Do it! • Design Journal


Change—real and perceived—is hard. The legacy of the Society for News Design spans four decades, and if you’re familiar with us, you may have a fixed set of ideas about who we are and what we do. You’d likely be very surprised at the range of disciplines represented in our membership and the topics we Visual journalism an amazing field. We love what we do and we want to share the Visual journalism excitement we feel, share theisbest and most innovative work an amazing field. we see, and lift the field as a into whole, as we head areas We love what we do uncharted. Change— real andThe perceived— is hard. legacy of to share and we want the Society for News Design spans four decades, andexcitement if you’re the we feel, familiar with us, you may have a fixed set of ideas about who share the best and we are and what we do. You’d likely at bethe very surprised most innovative work range of disciplines represented in our membership and thelift the topics we explore. we see, and Visual journalism is an amazing field. We love what we do and field as a whole we want to share the excitement we feel, share theas best weand head into most innovative work we see, and lift the field as a whole, as areas uncharted.” we head into areas uncharted. Change—realhard. and perceived—is The legacy of the Society for News Design spans four decades, and if you’re familiar with us, you From the article “How the Society for News Design Will Lead the Next Design Revolution” on, by Kyle Ellis and Stephen Komives


Design Journal • Spring 2017

Society for News Design will expand its digital journalism training and build a learning network with $200,000 from Knight Foundation


Largest grant awarded in SND’s history will help broaden reach o help journalists and newsrooms adopt new tools and products that address audience needs, the Society for News Design will expand its training opportunities and broaden the reach of its network to include more technologists, data journalists and product designers. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is supporting the effort with a $200,000 grant over the next two years. The Society for News Design creates, promotes and teaches the best visual journalism skills and user feedbackdriven design techniques, working with journalists to create innovations focused on audience engagement and community needs. The organization serves 884 members at all levels in digital and print journalism: students, entry-level professionals, mid-level managers, highranking editors and publishers. Knight has previously supported Society for News Design’s efforts to advance journalism innovation in the digital age. With new funding, the Society for News Design will launch a series of webinars and boot camps created by industry thought leaders in areas including data visualization, product design and other skills of growing relevance. In recent years, the practice of design has become more complex, expanding to include the creation of user experiences on different devices; animation and 3-D for video; product development; and design thinking, an approach that

incorporates feedback from users when developing new ideas. These are all skills that modern journalists are expected to understand. The Society for News Design plans to bridge that gap through a robust network that shares best practices in design. The society will also expand digital offerings at its annual workshop, creating a more focused experience on in-person training and peer-to-peer learning. “Clarity and trust have never been more important in news delivery,” said Society for News Design Immediate Past President Sara Quinn. “People encounter much of the world through the prism of design, technology and storytelling. Crafting that prism is central to our mission — and we have the opportunity to further our work because of Knight’s continued support.” In addition to expanding its training offerings, Society for News Design will create a new position for a digital director, who will expand the organization’s membership reach. The director will champion, question and explain the most pressing issues of news design and platforms, using a multitude of forums from articles and essays, to interviews and debates. The director will strengthen the voice of the society by supervising the creation of these learning materials online and in person at industry events. With previous Knight support, Society for News Design bolstered its digital training efforts and identified the need to evolve quickly and build on an increasingly digitally-minded

membership base. In the coming year, the Society for News Design plans to train hundreds of journalists and students, representing a diverse range of expertise, roles and other demographics. “Developing design and technology skills that take into account audience needs and preferences has become a journalism imperative,” said Shazna Nessa, Knight Foundation director for journalism. “With this in mind, strengthening the Society for News Design’s work is important to newsrooms and the field. Journalists need more opportunities to learn, connect, and share new approaches and innovations.” Support for the Society for News Design is part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to expand digital journalism training opportunities, support emerging leaders and strengthen the network of people working to advance the practice of journalism. — SND Headquarters


Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. It invests in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. The goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which the foundation believes are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit CONTACTS

Stephen Komives, Executive Director, Society for News Design, 407-420-7748, Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 305-908-2646, • Design Journal




g n i h t t a e r g e h “T d l r o w in this h c u m o is not s , d n a t s e w e r e wh

as in what direction we are moving.”* In transition, we are moving, evolving and making new discoveries for

ourselves, for better or for worse. Here, we bring you the stories of others who have experienced some sort of “before” and “after,” and everything in between.

* Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Supreme Court Justice, 1902–1932 • Design Journal


“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn I SSUE


to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” — C. S. Lewis, British novelist

Creativity (re)defined. In 2004, Tracy Collins set forth to learn more about designers* who he felt “tapped into the mother lode of mojo.” Twelve years after his article “Creativity Defined” was published in Design Journal, Collins asked these same designers to bring us up to date on their journeys. Have quest — will change.

Above is the cover of the Summer 2004 issue of Design Journal, where Tracy Collins’ article “Creativity Defined” was published.

* Missing is Harris Siegel, who was honored in 2013 with a Lifetime Achievement Award from SND. He currently works for the military.


Design Journal • Spring 2017


hey were gathered more than a dozen years ago, in what seems like a different era of news design. In addition to pumping out wildly creative work, they were dealing with problems like how to help improve the design of 32-page classified sections (since disappeared). How to acquire and retain Gen-X readers (they never came). How to stand out in a crowded media field (since then, much-thinned). My, how things have changed. We gathered this group in the Summer 2004 issue of Design Journal, and for a presentation at the SND annual workshop in San Jose, for the purpose of delving into the varied approaches they each took as visual communicators. We looked at their brainstorming methods, their work settings, what fueled their mojo. They are an inspiring bunch. Their paths have reflected much of the change in the news design industry. Of our original group of 10, four have left daily or weekly design. One actually came back to it. All are still doing inspirational, creative work in their fields. They were kind enough to let us catch up with them. Here’s where they are now in their creative journeys. Tracy Collins is the director of the Gannett’s Design Studio in Phoenix and president of the Society for News Design Foundation.

M A RTI N G EE IN 2004: Staff artist for House of Blues CURRENT LOCATION: TIME, New York City CURRENT POSITION:  Senior Art Director WHAT’S THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN YOUR LIFE SINCE 2004? Marrying Carrie Gee (formerly Hoover) in front of “The Starry Night” at MoMA and working together again. (She’s also a Senior Art Director at TIME.) HOW HAS YOUR APPROACH TO CREATIVE BRAINSTORMING CHANGED? Fewer sketches and going straight to final. (But by working in vector, I’m constantly tweaking and revising). It’s either I’m getting better, or have less time. Most likely the latter!  WHAT STOKES YOUR MOJO NOWADAYS? Making robots out of Lego and personal work. It’s the only way to stay sane! 

Illustration by Martin Gee • Design Journal


“I suppose whenever you go through periods of transition — I suppose those times are I SSUE


always going to be both very upsetting and also very exciting by the very nature because things are changing and you don’t know what’s going to happen.” — Daniel Radcliffe, English actor

IN 2004: Designer/Artist at the San Jose Mercury News CURRENT LOCATION: Apple CURRENT POSITION:  Chief Design Ninja WHAT’S THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN YOUR LIFE SINCE 2004? I left the San Jose Mercury News in 2007 and leaped pigtails-first into the tech field. I became Principal Creative Designer at PayPal (where I experienced awesome Silicon Valley traditions like human-sized foosball and all-you-caneat cereal stations). After that, I decided to go back to school. I had the privilege of learning 3-D animation from teachers at Pixar, Dreamworks and Disney. In 2009, I channeled my love of chubby-cheeked babies and started a family photography business. As luck has it, the same exact week I started my business, I landed my dream job as Chief Design Ninja at the coolest company in the world, Apple.


Design Journal • Spring 2017

HOW HAS YOUR APPROACH TO CREATIVE BRAINSTORMING CHANGED? I still use the same techniques that I used 15 years ago: word association lists, collaborating with coworkers, and being inspired by what people have done in the past.  There are so many places to find cool design ideas on the Web now (Pinterest, Instagram, even Facebook) that I’m constantly getting inspired. One of my favorite websites I use while brainstorming is It’s a site where you type in a subject and it finds all the visual elements related to it. (It’s like a Google search, but so much better because all the graphics are made by designers.) It helps me narrow my concepts down to the simplest visual elements and is my go-to resource when making word association lists. I get a lot of my best ideas when I’m away from my desk. Some of my clearest moments have come to me while on my surfboard, sitting in traffic in my car, or teaching hip-hop dance class. Giving yourself the opportunity to zone out is essential for the creative

mind. Sometimes it takes a moment of Zen (wherever you can find it) to clear the mind and see things differently. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of being creative in all aspects of life. If you never turn it off, you never have to worry about turning it back on. WHAT STOKES YOUR MOJO NOWADAYS? My new favorite creative hobby right now is making videos. I love that it’s a combination of everything I’m passionate about: photography, design, music and dance. Instead of capturing a moment in a single frame, I get to create an entire symphony of stories with movement, sound and emotions.  I also love taking crazy jumping/ breakdancing/ surfing/ action photos. Every time I travel with my boyfriend, we always make it a challenge to create a fun artistic photo. Not only does it keep my creative eye sharp by forcing me to be hyperaware of my surroundings, it also keeps us in really great shape — we do a ton of jumping!

From left: Photo by Stephanie Grace Lim; cover by Rodrigo Sánchez; artwork by Sam Hundley


“I still consider Metropoli a gift from God. …” — Rodrigo Sánchez

RO DRIGO S Á NCHEZ * WHAT’S THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN YOUR LIFE SINCE 2004? Work has been multiplied times 10. I used to do art direction for a dozen publications — some weekly, some monthly, some annually — and a daily publication. Now, you add to that a daily national paper and all its weekly and monthly supplements. It’s impossible to pamper each page like I used to. I have to focus on special pages and big projects.

IN 2004: Creative Director, magazines of El Mundo CURRENT LOCATION: El Mundo, Madrid, Spain CURRENT POSITION:  Designer/ Illustrator

HOW HAS YOUR APPROACH TO CREATIVE BRAINSTORMING CHANGED? You need to spread your enthusiasm for teamwork. Everyone needs to feel they are part of the product, that they participate in the success. Also, you need to be generous with the mistakes, because it’s part of learning. The hardest part is to change mentalities. Make them see and believe that it is possible to do things a different way. WHAT STOKES YOUR MOJO NOWADAYS? I still consider Metrópoli a gift from God, a toy, a passion more than a job. It’s a blessing to be able to use that space every week and collaborate with some of the best professionals of the world who want to publish in that piece of paper. I would envy any professional who would have the opportunity to work on those covers week after week — and it’s going on more than 20 years. As Confucius said, “Choose a job that you like, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” * Rodrigo Sánchez was awarded SND’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.


IN 2004: Staff Artist at The Virginian-Pilot CURRENT LOCATION: The Virginian-Pilot CURRENT POSITION: Designer/Illustrator WHAT’S THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN YOUR LIFE SINCE 2004? In 2009, I began creating found-object assemblages, rented a studio in an old warehouse, exhibited at local galleries and changed from a commercial artist to a scrap artist. HOW HAS YOUR APPROACH TO CREATIVE BRAINSTORMING CHANGED? More and more, I’m in agreement with the great Milton Glaser: “Only work with people you like.” WHAT STOKES YOUR MOJO NOWADAYS? Scouring for rusty metal objects that I can turn into something creative. • Design Journal


“A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. I SSUE


Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage of it.” — Nikki Giovanni, American poet and educator

An Detroit Auto Show attendee checks out a ScrollMotion-designed iPad app made for General Motors to unveil its new electric car.

J O E Z EF F IN 2004: President, Joe Zeff Design CURRENT LOCATION: ScrollMotion, New York City and Montclair, New Jersey CURRENT POSITION:  Vice President/Executive Creative Director

HOW HAS YOUR APPROACH TO CREATIVE BRAINSTORMING CHANGED? My creative process now starts much more upstream. We begin with purpose; what we are hoping to achieve. Only then does visual design come into play, intertwined with the experience by which that design is consumed. The success of a project is measured by its effectiveness, not just how something looks but how well it does its particular job. WHAT STOKES YOUR MOJO NOWADAYS? Uber. Square. Apple. Tesla. Airbnb. Companies that succeed by surfacing problems we barely knew existed and applying technology to solve them in remarkable new ways.

“My creative process now starts much more upstream. We begin with purpose. …”

— Joe Zeff


Design Journal • Spring 2017

From left: Photo by Joe Zeff; page by Adrian Álvarez; infographic by Tim Harrower

WHAT’S THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN YOUR LIFE SINCE 2004? The introduction of the iPad in 2010 and my bet that this new device would change the way people deliver and consume content.

“Designers are so blessed to use our own language as the main tool at work: The visual language.”

— Ádrian Álvarez

ÁD R IAN ÁLVA R EZ IN 2004: Staff Designer at El Norte in Monterrey CURRENT LOCATION: San Antonio, Texas CURRENT POSITION:  Senior Art Director WHAT’S THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN YOUR LIFE SINCE 2004? In that year I was working for El Norte, in Monterrey, Mexico. In that same year I came to the U.S. to help to launch Rumbo, a new Spanish publication across four cities in Texas. Then, in 2006, I went to work for The Arizona Republic, and later that year, I was hired for The San Antonio Express-News. So, a little bit of everything has changed since then. But probably the biggest change for me has been working in a newsroom with a different language than my first language, Spanish. But even that — we designers are so blessed to use our own language as the main tool at work: The visual language. HOW HAS YOUR APPROACH TO CREATIVE BRAINSTORMING CHANGED? On these days, we are inevitably immersed on the Internet and social media. I would lie if I said that at least a few of my concepts or designs haven’t been influenced in some way by something I found or I saw on the Web.   WHAT STOKES YOUR MOJO NOWADAYS? The same ingredients as in the past: Good stories, photos, or graphics. And yes, I still use my home bathroom as my main creative office. ;)

T I M H AR R O W E R IN 2004: Consultant; Author of The Newspaper Designer’s Handbook CURRENT LOCATION: 10 acres of lovely forest near Portland, Oregon CURRENT POSITION: Semi-retired WHAT’S THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN YOUR LIFE SINCE 2004? Being semi-retired on 10 acres of forest. HOW HAS YOUR APPROACH TO CREATIVE BRAINSTORMING CHANGED? To quote Joe Walsh: “Everybody’s so different; I haven’t changed.” WHAT STOKES YOUR MOJO NOWADAYS? I recently spent a year writing and designing a book on climate change — a travel guide to the best places in America to escape the coming droughts, floods, heat waves and rising seas. An extremely marketable concept, which we loaded with visuals, graphics and interactive extras. We poured our hearts into it. Focus groups loved our sample chapters.  And then we pulled the plug. Why? You want to feel real despair? Talk to climate experts about how catastrophically awful things will be — soon! — and how there are no solutions anywhere, from anybody. The more we learned, the more paralyzed with pessimism we became, until it all became too soul-crushingly depressing to go on.  So I buried that book on a dark shelf and vowed to savor each day that remains. I hike, play with the dogs, travel, meditate — and record music in my studio, where I sometimes perform orchestral masterworks, playing each instrumental part, one at a time, until it all sounds beautiful, and my mojo is restored. • Design Journal


“Times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, I SSUE


rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want.” — Kristin Armstrong, professional road bicycle racer and Olympian

J UL IE M. E LMA N IN 2004: Designer at The Virginian-Pilot CURRENT LOCATION: Ohio University, Athens, Ohio CURRENT POSITION: Associate Professor

HOW HAS YOUR APPROACH TO CREATIVE BRAINSTORMING CHANGED? I do a lot more of it. (Got to practice what I teach, right?!) As I’ve gained more experience, I have a much better understanding of the importance of creative brainstorming. I know that my first impressions and ideas are important to take note of, and I also know that sometimes the best ideas come from a longer, more drawn-out process. I’ve learned to embrace the fear of the unknown. WHAT STOKES YOUR MOJO NOWADAYS? Seeing how the students grow over time is always gratifying for me. Working on my personal projects — such as the Fear Project (right) — does, too.


Design Journal • Spring 2017

From left: Illustration by Julie M. Elman; illustration by Stacy Innerst

WHAT’S THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN YOUR LIFE SINCE 2004? In 2004, I was designing front pages at The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Virginia. Great experience, but after years of doing this, I was feeling burned out by the tight deadlines and night hours. I also wanted to change up what I was doing. I applied for a teaching position at Ohio University in the beginning of 2004. OU is my alma mater — where I received a graduate degree in photography in the ’80s. It’s been great to be back in beautiful southeastern Ohio, teaching, as well as doing my own creative work.

“I’ve learned to embrace the fear of the unknown.”

— Julie M. Elman

STACY IN N ER S T IN 2004: Staff Artist at The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette CURRENT LOCATION: Pittsburgh CURRENT POSITION: Desk Jockey at WHAT’S THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN YOUR LIFE SINCE 2004? Working for myself. That’s HUGE. No direct deposit of a paycheck, so my days are spent in a combination of marketing and actual work on current projects. I’m working mostly on kid’s books these days, but I’m also teaching a class or two, visiting schools to talk about books and illustration and working on a wide variety of projects. I still illustrate for newspapers and magazines, which I will always love. HOW HAS YOUR APPROACH TO CREATIVE BRAINSTORMING CHANGED? Because I now work alone for the most part, the brainstorming mostly happens with clients, over the phone or in emails, when we are going over initial sketches. I do have a studio cat that pretends to listen to my ideas but, honestly, she doesn’t contribute that much.

“Listening to good music and looking at good art keep my mojo working.” — Stacy Innerst

WHAT STOKES YOUR MOJO NOWADAYS? That part hasn’t changed much. Listening to good music and looking at good art keep my mojo working. Because I’m working on books that require a strong visual narrative, I take a lot from films that I watch and try to incorporate movie-making techniques to keep the pictures books feel more cinematic. • Design Journal





WORK & LIFE Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

— Robert Frost, from “The Road Not Taken”

By Tippi Thole

IN THE PAST FOUR AND A HALF YEARS since leaving my job as an art director at The Washington Post, I’ve gone through a lot of transitions: I changed countries (culture, language, etc.), started my own business and went through a divorce. While none of it was easy, each crossroads was an opportunity to do some serious soul-searching and pursue a more authentic life. Here are a few things I learned along the way.




Don’t be afraid of change.

Be prepared for the unexpected.

The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “The only thing that is constant is change.” We can choose to embrace change, or resist change, but not whether or not things will change. At every moment we’re making choices in response to the world around us. We’re mostly unaware of these choices until we come to a major crossroads, when our world changes drastically in the blink of an eye: the loss of a job, a serious illness, etc. On the surface, these moments are “bad” because we’d never wish for them, but every crossroads presents an opportunity — a chance to reevaluate our life and happiness, and make choices based on who we are and the kind of life we want to live rather than based on who we were. Hello, personal growth!

The more skills you have at your disposal, the more easily you can adapt to change (and the more likely you’ll perceive the unexpected event as an opportunity rather than a setback). When my then-husband decided to move back to his native Quebec, I left my job at The Washington Post to freelance full time. In my 15 years as a visual journalist, I’d held 15 different job titles at 14 different publications and had amassed a pretty diverse skill set. Having worked as a photographer, copy editor, designer and art director prepared me well for my new life as an entrepreneur. Today I’m the happy owner of Bright Spot Studio (, a creative studio specializing in branding and graphic design for small businesses. It’s not unusual for me to be photographer, copywriter, web designer and brand consultant all for one client!

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch special section cover, art directed and designed by Tippi Thole.

“You’re a force to be reckoned with.” — Tippi Thole


You know more than you think. My work now is in many ways the same as when I worked at newspapers and magazines. Building relationships, thinking creatively, articulating ideas, juggling assignments, meeting deadlines and staying within budget are all in a day’s work (sound familiar?). Your skills, no matter what they are, are transferable. Designers are problem solvers, project managers and marketers all in one. You’re a force to be reckoned with.

Branding, website and photography for Park West Family Medicine, a primary care practice in Chicago, Illinois. Branding and website by Tippi Thole.


It helps to speak different languages. Moving to Montreal was a major culture change. Knowing French has been indispensable, but the ability to speak different languages applies to work as well. I like to say I’m fluent in Photographer, Designer and Copy Editor and conversational in Reporter and Web Developer. Speaking multiple “languages” allows me to understand, connect with and collaborate with people from different backgrounds in a meaningful way. And that leads to better, well, everything! • Design Journal





“Embracing change means embracing knowledge.”

Don’t be afraid to say no.

— Tippi Thole


Collaborate with people you click with. As much as I enjoy wearing different hats, I know my limitations. I’m no JavaScript expert, and my French is far from perfect. But I’ve found some awesome people to partner with, which benefits me and my clients. Freelancing from home can be isolating, so bouncing ideas off of like-minded people can be therapeutic. In work and in life, partner with people who have different talents, who have a sense of humor, who freely share ideas, who see value in what you do and who treat you as their equal. You’ll be able to make amazing things together and have fun doing it.


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Above, branding and website for Montreal illustrator Julien Chung.


Never stop learning.

One of my biggest challenges when I started working for myself was learning to say no. It’s natural when you start freelancing full time to say yes to everything because you’re worried you won’t have enough work to pay the bills. That’s a mistake because bad assignments cost you more in the long run than no assignment at all. Pay attention to any red flags that pop up when you’re interviewing potential clients and jobs, because guess what? Those red flags don’t go away — they just become bigger. Saying no to problematic projects (or people!) creates the space to say yes to better opportunities. Have confidence that the right jobs will come along. Every time I’ve turned down a project, another one magically lands in my lap to take its place. No joke.

I’m a workshop junkie. I think I’ve attended every talk, workshop and conference about WordPress, CSS and Latin dance in the Montreal area! And thanks to my clients, I’ve had the opportunity to deep dive into areas I otherwise would know nothing about, like lapidary equipment, commuter water taxis and industrial waste containers. I love that my work is always different, interesting and challenging. When you stop learning, you stop growing. Embracing change means embracing knowledge.

“When you find your passion, pursue it. Don’t let fear get in the way. When you’re doing something you love, success will come.” — Tippi Thole

The new headquarters of Bright Spot Studio ( Tippi Thole has put her office front and center in her home, converting the living room into her workspace, which includes her feline officemate, Zephyr. Photo by Tippi Thole.


Do what you love.

You know those times when you’re so immersed in an activity that you lose all sense of time? You look at the clock and can’t believe how many hours have passed? Pay attention to those moments because (news flash!) you’re doing something you love. My current work is incredibly satisfying because I get to design things and help people. When you find your passion, pursue it. Don’t let fear get in the way. When you’re doing something you love, success will come. When I started Bright Spot Studio four and a half years ago, I had no idea where I’d end up. It’s been a bumpy road, but one I’m grateful to have traveled. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I have a feeling there will be lots of bright spots in my future.

ABOUT TIPPI THOLE Before starting Bright Spot Studio, Tippi Thole worked for 15 years creating award-winning work as an art director and designer at a variety of U.S. magazines and newspapers. • Design Journal




GETTING THE JOB DONE. Tough it out and adapt — a necessity for Jeff Goertzen, art director at The Orange County Register. He takes a look back on his wealth of experience — and how that has taught him important lessons in perseverance.


Interview compiled by Sara Quinn and Stephen Komives

The Breakout Project, in print Shown above is the right side of a double-page graphic that ran in The Orange County Register the following Sunday after a prison breakout. Jeff Goertzen, art director at The Orange County Register, was given permission to tour the county facility where the breakout occurred so he could gather information for his graphics.


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here’s no doubt that seeing the massive staff reductions that have taken place in newsrooms throughout the United States, and in my own newsroom, has been the toughest transition I’ve faced. In the last five years, I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum. I’ve been let go as an art director, and have also been an art director who has lost his whole department to buyouts and layoffs. Newsrooms are half the staff they used to be, and one- and two-person graphics departments seem to be the norm now. I’m one of those departments. What I have learned from these experiences is how much work I’m capable of producing in one day. After 30 years in the industry, you know all the tricks and shortcuts to get the job done fast. The other difficult transition for me has been in adapting to the various digital platforms. I still catch myself designing for print first and trying to adapt my work into digital. As much of a passion I have for graphics, the type of data visualization I’m seeing now is, at times, hard for me to embrace. While there is some good work out there online, I see too many cases where the presentation of data is overdesigned and difficult to understand. Add to that the many websites that enable anyone to “build” graphics on the fly with pre-designed templates — this has resulted in some pretty bad work. This is all clearly a sign that we still need to improve on transitioning our graphic content to digital.

The Breakout Project, online

Jeff Goertzen’s three-panel images were used on the day of the breakout, illustrating how the escape occurred.

Focus on the jail project: Drawing on trust Three jail inmates were on the run when Jeff Goertzen toured the county facility to sketch their daring escape route. Getting the go-ahead to make this happen was no easy feat. Jeff Goertzen detailed how he was able to get on-site access in the aftermath of a breakout from the Orange County Central Jail, so he could sketch the daring escape route of three inmates. Goertzen said trust was hard-won, and he eventually received the go-ahead from law enforcement officials. In an e-mail interview, Goertzen described how this assignment panned out. “Being granted access by the sheriff ’s department to tour a prison escape route doesn’t just happen overnight,” he said, “if it happens at all.”

How did you decide to use illustrations with the story? We obviously couldn’t photograph what had already happened. And when we were granted access inside the prison to tour the escape route, we were only allowed to bring paper and pencils. No cameras or cell phones were allowed on the tour. During the tour, we sketched everything we saw and paced off distances to get a sense of scale. We were cautioned by the sheriffs not to show too much detail, such as pipes and electrical boxes inside the escape route. We told our story on two facing pages, using 3-D diagrams to show the technical aspects of the escape route and storyboard

illustrations to help illustrate the narrative. This turned out to be a very effective means of drawing the audience into the story. Members of the sheriff’s department were very pleased with our coverage, although they did wince at a couple details in the graphic. But they said it was fair and even republished portions of our graphics and illustrations in an interactive timeline they posted on their website. What was the most challenging aspect of the project? There were two areas we struggled with. First, how much information do we, or should we, show in the graphic. We didn’t want to create a blueprint on how to break out of a prison. The prison guards had • Design Journal




The Breakout Project, in print

This graphic by Jeff Goertzen, above, ran in The Register the day after the prison break.

told us that our previous coverage on jailhouse informants was very popular with the inmates. We knew what we published in The Register was being read by them. Second, using illustrations (or storyboards) based on circumstantial evidence is something I have shunned in the past. But now I found myself using these to help draw the readers into our pages. I felt that I was walking a thin line in illustrating what was fact and what was sensationalism. In the end, we were satisfied with our decisions, but I did struggle with that. What advice do you have for other news organizations about “going all in” for a different type of story approach? Like any graphic or illustration you create for publication, you have to ask yourself these questions: a) Does the illustration or graphic support the facts (is it accurate)? b) Does the illustration or graphic help the reader and keep the reader engaged? c) Does the illustration or graphic


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You have to ask yourself these questions: a) Does the illustration or graphic support the facts (is it accurate)? b) Does the illustration or graphic help the reader and keep the reader engaged? c) Does the illustration or graphic enhance the story?

enhance the story? As long as you can answer yes to these questions, I say go all out and have fun. How did you develop a more solid level of trust with the sheriff’s department? Their decision to give us access was based on a level of trust we that developed over time. Prior to the jail break, the sheriff’s department was under trial for misconduct. It had been using inmates as informants (snitches) against other inmates to gather incriminating evidence. Our reporting on this case helped The Register build a constructive dialogue with the sheriff’s department in a time that it was trying to be as trans-

parent as possible to regain the public’s trust. It was a collaborative effort. In the past, we also invited members of the sheriff’s department to our newsroom for a tour to show them how we deliver news to our readers on a daily basis. They had lunch with us, sat in on our meetings, and visited with our staff. During our coverage of the jail break, our editor, Rob Curley, had several conversations with the sheriff’s department to convince them to grant us access to the escape route. Given the track record we already had with the sheriff’s department, they finally agreed. We were allowed to send five journalists to take an exclusive tour of the prison and the escape route. No other news agency, including the Today Show, was granted access.



Changing with the (ny)times Archie Tse, deputy graphics


director at The New York Times,

Online, composite images — viewed by scrolling sideways — illustrated the progres-

has seen a major transition in

sion of how athletes performed. Sports included in this presentation included track and field, beach volleyball, equestrian show jumping, gymnastics (above) and boxing.

the way the paper tells stories across multiple platforms. Interview by Sara Quinn

What are the main differences of what you’re doing now? We are doing more pieces that are stand-alone pieces that are fully fleshed-out visual stories. We do all of the reporting that we need to have a complete story, of course. We write the piece, and then we build the visual components. For each, different platform? Yes. All of the visual elements have to be built at least two times — sometimes three times — in order to accommodate the different platforms, like desktop, tablet and mobile. We do the print version of a graphic — if we do one — after the Web version is done.


That is complex.

In print, a number of images were presented across a doubletruck. The more

It’s difficult. Things that work on iPhone 6 Plus don’t work on iPhone 5,

motion across the page. The number of events represented on the printed page

extreme horizontal shape for the photographs helped add a sense of sweeping was fewer than what was presented online.




“The editing is difficult, because we have to check it on all of these different forms.” — Archie Tse

and you have to figure out what the bug is. It can take hours, or sometimes days to work out those bugs — just to get a graphic ready to publish. It’s a tremendous amount of work. Then, after you’re done and you hit publish, you also have to make sure that you have all of your social media assets ready. Things like promo images and animated gifs, promo videos for Facebook and other storytelling mediums. The editing is difficult, because we have to check it on all of these different forms. What’s been driving these changes? A few years ago when we began to push to do more integrated visual storytelling — with text, photos, videos, graphics woven into a seamless narrative — we realized we had a lot to learn about the form. We’ve had to ask ourselves a lot of questions, like what kinds of stories does it work for and when is the addition of visual storytelling essential to the narrative and when is it superfluous. The more that we do, the better we understand the answers to those questions. And the lessons we learn are not just important to our department — they are critical to the entire organization as The Times tries to become a more visual medium.


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The Times’ article “At Least 110 Republican Leaders Won’t Vote for Trump. Here’s When They Reached Their Breaking Point” appeared in print (below) on Sept. 4, 2016, and online (right, a screenshot of The Times’ Web page on a desktop). The story featured a timeline of what presidential candidate Donald Trump said, and when — and indicated when GOP leaders made the decision not to vote for him.

D IG ITA L : RE P UB L IC A N L E A D ERS’ B RE A K ING P OINT Flexibility Space is not an issue online, obviously, making it possible to add more names to the list of GOP leaders stating their position not to vote for Donald Trump. Timeliness When the “Access Hollywood” videotape story broke, the list of people withholding their Trump vote grew and additional names were easily added. Contrast Extra emphasis was given to the headline, especially the big number.

Scroll, scroll, scroll Color Reverse type on blue was used to point out the GOP leaders who said they’d vote for Hillary Clinton. In print, to avoid using reverse type, yellow was placed behind the names of the GOP leaders.

Quotes Online, GOP leader responses were placed on the left of the vertical timeline rule. With the added white space, their responses appear to be more emphasized than they are in print (where they’re presented in magenta, so they stand out amid the density of type).

Keep scrolling The timeline started on June 16, 2015 (when Trump announced his candidacy for president) and ran vertically down the page, ending on Oct. 9, 2016. • Design Journal




Wherever Ron Reason goes, a senseof-place picture follows. From right, clockwise: Montana; Amsterdam; Canada; Argentina; Burning Man Festival, Nevada; India; Alberta, Canada; Chicago; Nairobi; Queens, New York; Yellowstone.


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For design consultant Ron Reason, inspiration is always afoot. By Ron Reason


hat an odd discovery: SND Immediate Past President Sara Quinn has been obsessing over my feet! Or rather, photos of my feet, which she has noticed in my various social media feeds. I have taken such photos around the world, chronicling my pursuits of both business and leisure. Sara thought they might make some sort of statement about the theme of “transition” in the news industry. If nothing else, one must remain in a constant state of transition, if one is to attempt to make a living as a newspaper design consultant. Especially if one wishes for both feet to remain firmly planted in PRINT, which, strange but true, I have done! In reviewing the Flickr album where I’ve stashed many dozens of such photos, I found that nothing defines my journeys more than transition, and the pursuit of visual and natural inspiration along the way. From speaking engagements with press clubs in South Dakota and Calgary, to long-term work assignments in Buenos Aires and Amsterdam, to teaching assignments in Montana and work with clients in Nairobi, the feet tell a bit of a story, and help sum up my motto: Always explore!

Ron Reason is a news design consultant based in Portland, Oregon, specializing in magazine and newspaper redesign. In 2015, he served as a distinguished visiting professor at the University of Montana, teaching a seminar titled “Critical Thinking About Design and Disruption.” To learn more about the travels pictured here, and what they say about journeys in print design and education, visit • Design Journal




FORGING A NEW PATH After nearly 25 years as a creative force in the newsroom, graphic artist and illustrator Dave Eames left The Kansas City Star to open Fossil Forge Design, a collaborative studio for creating things “handcrafted, high tech or something in between.” His love of art, science, community and storytelling are evident in the works he creates — often in glass and steel — which can be found around his hometown of Lee’s Summit, Missouri. He also continues to work on projects for the print and digital worlds. Interview by Sara Quinn

⇒ What’s a favorite piece that you’ve done since you started Fossil Forge? Early last year, I was asked to come up with a concept for our city’s 150th anniversary time capsule. I knew I wanted to create a memorable piece of sculpture, but also a design that could safely and securely contain the artifacts, memories and history from 2015 that would be revealed in 2065 (the 200th anniversary of Lee’s Summit, Missouri). I worked up three concepts for review initially, before focusing on a design called “Emergence.” The piece is made up of nine metal and glass crystal forms, seven of which are lighted from inside with fiber optics. The ability to change the color of the sculpture was key. Colorful lights reflect the mood of the city, the seasons or newsworthy events. For example, last fall when the Royals won the World Series, the sculpture glowed Royals blue through October and November. “Emergence” stands 9 feet tall and 9 feet wide. It weighs approximately 600 pounds. The sculpture is located in the gardens of our City Hall plaza. The time capsules are hidden in two of the crystal forms, sealed, waiting for 2065.


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⇒ Where do you look for inspiration?

I find inspiration in lots of places. I love reusing and adapting old pieces of machinery and tools. Many of these castoffs make their way into my sculptures. Mixing these ingredients from our industrial past into new expressions is rewarding to me. I also enjoy reflecting nature into the stylized forms I create. For example, I make Bottle Tree Flowers that mimic the tallgrass prairies of the heartland, standing tall in gardens and backyards. Fossil Forge is named for the embrace of natural history that was passed to me by my mom and dad. My dad was a paleontologist, who could not resist stopping the family car at road cuts to explore the rock strata for prehistoric crinoid stems, brachiopods, and if we were lucky, a shark’s tooth. My mom was a zoologist and environmentalist, whose passion for animals and habitat restoration lives on in the native plant gardens of my own yard.

⇒ What is life like for you, after newspapers? I worked as a graphic artist at newspapers for almost 25 years, mostly at The Kansas City Star. I loved my time in the newsroom, working with some of the smartest and driven people I have ever known. However, after both my parents died, and I had my own health scare, I decided to leave the paper to head out on my own. My company, Fossil Forge Design, is a full-service design firm. For a variety of clients, we produce graphic design solutions, including logos, websites and informational graphics. We specialize in architectural metal expressions, such as signage, environmental graphics, interior design components and garden design elements, like gates, fences and sculpture. Last year, I partnered with two other businesses to purchase a rundown 1921 building in our historic downtown. Months of renovation brought the building back to life. My design studio and workshop are located here now. Running my own business is hard, humbling and exciting. The uncertainty of having consistent work and what peril lies around the bend is always present, but the joy and satisfaction of taking years of experience and letting it flourish in a unfenced environment is so gratifying.

“Fossil Forge is named for the embrace of natural history that was passed to me by my mom and dad.” — Dave Eames • Design Journal




Saying “Yes!” led Jennifer George-Palilonis down an unexpected road — and into an opportunity that brought together all of her interests in visual storytelling. As co-director for the newly established Center for Emerging Media Design & Development at Ball State University

’ ! O ‘G since 2015, it’s been nothing but all systems go. Interview by Julie M. Elman

Describe the path you took toward your current role.

The answer to this question begins with my decision to get a Ph.D., something I NEVER thought I would do. Many times after I started teaching in the Journalism Graphics program at Ball State, people asked me if I would ever get my doctorate. I always responded with an emphatic, NO! I wasn’t interested in a Ph.D. in Journalism because those programs didn’t speak to me as a visual journalist. And, I never wanted an MFA because those programs are typically pretty far afield of journalism and information architecture. So, I never really felt a Ph.D. would be worth my time and my money. However, in 2009, I learned about Indiana University’s School of Informatics and started exploring their Ph.D. program in Human-Computer Interaction, and I was instantly intrigued. Suddenly, I found a program that was related to BOTH visual storytelling AND information architecture, with all kinds of value added, including us-

ability and user experience design and research. The program was interesting to me, not because I felt I needed a Ph.D., but because I wanted to learn more about that field. And I immediately saw how it fit into journalism, graphic design, information visualization, design thinking, and the like. So, when my twins started kindergarten, I started my Ph.D. And for the next five years, I was a full-time professor, a full-time student and a full-time mom — with lots of help from a husband who has always encouraged me to do whatever I want! About a year or two into that program, one of my colleagues, Brad King, and I began working on a new curriculum for Ball State focused on Design Thinking, Transmedia Storytelling, User Experience Design and Development in an applied lab setting. That eventually became the Center for Emerging Media Design & Development, which launched its first master’s degree cohort in fall 2015. I finished my Ph.D. just two months before the new program launched. I have been so fortunate to work for a university that values media arts, and with colleagues who have believed in me and supported these efforts. I guess you could say that I was given this amazing opportunity to bring together everything I know as a visual journalist, interaction designer and researcher together to co-create this new program. In a nutshell, I got to write my own job description, and it’s been awesome. Our first-year cohort was a group of 15 outstanding students, and expanding my teaching and research into a project-based program has opened lots of new doors creatively and academically. How have you remained engaged and forwardthinking in the classroom? What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in integrating so many facets of storytelling? Getting the Ph.D. in Human-Computer Interaction helped a lot. HCI is an interesting field because as the whole world has become more digital, so have their modes of communication. HCI is both a stand-alone field and a particularistic field all at once. On one hand, there are a lot of theories and frameworks in HCI that evolve and mature independently. On the other hand, those theories and frameworks can be applied in many different contexts, from educational multimedia, to healthcare, to strategic communication design. So, it’s been interesting to bring all that to the journalism classroom. My biggest challenge is always fitting it all in. I have a limited amount of time with students from the time they enter my program until the time they graduate. So, it’s tough to cover everything that needs to be covered and give them as many opportunities as possible without overloading them. I have to be very careful about how it all comes together.

Jennifer George-Palilonis, on the day she graduated from Indiana University with a Ph.D. in Human-Computer Interaction. With her are her husband Jim Palilonis and sons Gage and Quinn.


Any words of wisdom for anyone wishing to transition into a more expanded role as a storyteller? I don’t believe in languishing in a job or a state of mind that leaves you bored, or unhappy, or unsatisfied. Life’s too short. If you want to expand your skills, try something new. Take a class. Make connections with people who can help you understand how to break in. I just think we should all be open to new ideas and new opportunities. Some of the best transitions I have made in my career — like moving from the newsroom to the classroom, or going back to school to get the Ph.D. — have not been long-term goals. In fact, in both of those cases, they were things I thought I would never do. But when great opportunities come along, you have to be able to recognize them as such, and then go for it. • Design Journal


Using his problem-solving skills, interactive designer Mike Rohde found a new way to take notes — and effectively "transitioned my thinking to a new space," he says. He is now a leader in what he calls “sketchnoting” — an effective way to capture and develop ideas. By Mike Rohde

he most important times of my life have been marked by transition, sometimes transitions I couldn’t see until weeks, months, or years later. I’ve seen a fair amount of transition: from print design to Web design and from Web design to user-experience design. But one of the most important was my transition into sketchnoting. In late 2006, I’d come to the end of the line with notes, both handwritten and on the computer. Of course, I still had to take notes, but I didn’t much enjoy them. For some reason I’d adopted the idea that in order to create great notes, I had to capture every detail — like a court reporter. This mindset made note-taking into a chore that I’d come to hate doing, despite


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being good at it. What I realized was something had to change regarding the notes I was taking. By this time I was using hard-bound, large, lined paper notebooks with a pencil to both capture every detail and have the option to easily fix my mistakes. The underlying problem, besides hating the process of note-taking this way, was my assumption that I’d ever wade through the jungle of ideas in that giant book. The reality was, after capturing every detail, I was unwilling to parse my walls of words to find great ideas. What was the point of taking the notes? As a designer, I’m constantly faced with constraints: only two colors, the deadline is tomorrow, the screen size is 375 pixels wide, and so on. These con-

straints are something designers complain about, but actually force us to solve problems in interesting ways. Being familiar with constraints, I decided to experiment with a new way of note-taking at a conference in February 2007. The idea was simple: put away the giant lined book and constrain myself to a small, pocket-sized Moleskine notebook. And instead of using a pencil, I decided to just deal with the unforgiving ink of a gel pen. The combination of a book too small to write my typically excessive notes in, and a pen that made me commit to or consider the ideas I would capture, transitioned my thinking to a new space. Instead of capturing every word, I began analyzing what was being said, choosing what I felt was important, or could be applied to my life and capturing only that in my own words. That shift freed me to embellish my words with typographically inspired lettering and drawings of what I was imagining. Suddenly, I enjoyed the process of taking notes again! I was using my mind to

Above are some examples of Mike Rodhe’s sketchnotes. See lots more of his work at • Design Journal


Sketchnote about the expresso process, by Mike Rohde. Below, a sketchnote Rohde created at the SND workshop in Chicago in 2009.

“It turns out I’d inadvertently used design thinking to solve an everyday problem in my life.” — Mike Rohde capacity, getting into ideas I was hearing, and having fun doing it. My sketchnotes were posted online and immediately caught the attention of the conference attendees. When they were noticed by people who weren’t at the event, I knew I was onto something significant. I called these concise, visual notes, “sketchnotes,” because they felt like the conceptual sketches I created daily to solve design problems. It turns out I’d inadvertently used design thinking to solve an everyday problem in my life. This one experiment in visual note-taking on a chilly day in February 2007 led to more sketchnote experiments at events like SXSW Interactive.


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Soon, I was invited to become an official sketchnoter for events, first for free entry, later being commissioned with flights and travel included.

My two bestselling books, The Sketchnote Handbook and The Sketchnote Workbook came from this event, too, followed by talks and workshops on my visual note-taking concept, all around the world. A vibrant, welcoming community has grown up around this idea, and I’ve been honored to become a leader in it. If you told me in February 2007 how significant my choice to transition from crazy-detailed notes to sketchnotes would become, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. But here I am, 10 years later, and my life has changed. Mike Rohde, designer, author, illustrator and sketchnoter, lives in Milwaukee.



The mini-Q/A: Aviva Loeb

Current position: Designer at the Phoenix Design Studio at Gannett. How did you transition from your university program to your first job?

The transition from working for my student paper, and doing internships to a professional environment was interesting. For a while I definitely still felt like an intern, especially since at 21, I’m one of the youngest people in the office. It sounds kind of funny but one of the hardest things was realizing I had authority when talking to the “grown ups” that I work with. Another thing that was hard was transitioning from an environment where I was the authority on layout, so if I had questions or needed input there wasn’t really anyone to turn to — to being in an environment where I am surrounded by knowledgeable people who can help. In college I was taught to figure things out for myself, and I had to change my process to ask questions and seek opinions from my peers. Any words of wisdom for university students who discover their interest in design — but, as you experienced, find themselves in a situation with few, or no, options for courses that focus on visual communication? I think that college students should realize how much people want to help them be successful in their careers. I actually went to speak to students at an Associated Collegiate Press conference about this, and my advice was, don’t be afraid to reach out to people for advice, even if you don’t know them. When your school doesn’t have a [visual] program, it just means you have to find opportunities for yourself. Take classes

Page design by Aviva Loeb

online and during the summer at other schools and utilize the SND community to learn. I haven’t met a single person that has said “no” to letting me job shadow or turned down critiquing my work. I think the trick is just not being scared to advocate for yourself. • Design Journal




In the words of John Grimwade …

“Actually, I like it.”

This graphic illustrates the words John Grimwade used most frequently in one of his infographics classes at Ohio University during the fall of 2016. Graphic by Shanna MacRostie, one of Grimwade’s students.

Data was collected during 11 infographics classes over a four-week period, and is shown here with John’s favorite, and often-mentioned, pencil: the Palomino Blackwing 602. John was astonished to learn that he managed to fit in the word “actually” 58 times during one 55-minute class.

why not? thought John Grimwade, an assistant professor teaching infographics at Ohio university in Athens. His life has been one big transition after another. Why not one more? Interview by Julie M. Elman

After decades in the industry doing work for many prominent publications, teaching in Manhattan and traveling around the world to speak about infographics and data visualization, you made a decision to move to southeastern Ohio, to teach in the School of Visual Communication. For many, what you’ve done would be a head scratcher. What prompted you to make this change at this time in your life? I’d been an adjunct instructor at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, and was thinking about doing more teaching, especially with a more journalistic approach. And as (like everyone else)


Design Journal • Spring 2017

I can freelance from anywhere, I was wondering about perhaps having a house and a garden. The infographics position at VisCom was open, I knew it was a great program, and Tim Goheen had been made director. So it all came together. After being in big cities my whole working life, it brought me full circle back to my small-town roots. And I like it! With all the transitions you’ve made in your life/career, which one did you find the most challenging? The move to the U.S. from the U.K. in 1987, when phone calls were $1 a minute, and there was no Internet. I crossed the

ocean, both literally and metaphorically, in that I moved from daily newspapers to monthly magazines. How would you describe your own path in the field of infographics, in terms of transition? It was a huge change to switch from traditional artwork to computers. However, my style has remained largely the same. That’s because I’ve always been looking for a very simple way to explain things. I can get better as a teacher, and I intend to put plenty of effort into that. It’s a big responsibility, but it’s also a lot of fun. Any words of wisdom you’d like to give to people thinking about making huge changes in their lives? Go for it! At any age. I wish I’d made more changes, especially in terms of jobs. It’s very easy to stay in the same position, and it’s often not a good way to realize your full potential.

Graphic, right, by Kaitlin Jackson

From freelancing in The Big Apple, to teaching in Appalachia — • Design Journal




Graphic by David Sebo

STUDENT WORK In his infographics classes, John Grimwade encourages students to be smart in their design choices, be simple in their use of type and be ruthless in their editing. On these two pages are graphics produced by students in Grimwade’s classes during 2015–2016.

INFOGRAPHICS FOR THE PEOPLE!* “My career has spanned the dinosaur years of pens and pencils, the game-changing switch to digital, then online multimedia and interactivity, and on to the era of big data,” writes John Grimwade on * In addition to teaching, Grimwade is the consulting graphics director of Eight by Eight, a soccer magazine that was the 2015 Society Graphic by Kaitlin Jackson


Design Journal • Spring 2017

of Publication Design’s Magazine of the Year.

Graphics by Alexa Miller

Graphic by Sarah Erickson • Design Journal




David Kordalski:

Still rockin’ ’n’ rollin’ … For three decades, he played a major role in shaping the voice of Cleveland’s award-winning newspaper, The Plain Dealer. As the consummate coach and collaborator, he led his team of visual journalists to

much success in the industry. “We’re the ones prepared to push against the status quo, to shake dust off old notions of what readers expect,” says David Kordalski. His job has since changed, but his innovative attitude remains — in his position as creative director at Crain’s Cleveland Business magazine.


Design Journal • Spring 2017

After more than 30 years in the industry, and with a good deal of experience and numerous awards under your belt, you stepped away from The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. Describe what you were going through as you navigated your exit from that experience. For me, leaving came down to a personal choice. I had done the grind of deadline, drop-everything-for-thisbreaking-story for more than 30 years. That’s a long time running on that hamster wheel, at least for me. The recent adoption of a pub-hub structure at the PD, which takes more of a production, rather than a proactive approach to design, was a challenge to me. Based on the success we had in the past two SND competitions under that structure, it’s clear that we made it work — and in some ways we actually did better, stronger presentation. I was, and always will be, extremely proud of the body of work the staff put together during that period. Still, it just felt like the right time to step away. The PD folks were understanding and gracious in supporting my decision. In fact, I owe the paper a ton for all the

Above are some award-winning Plain Dealer pages that were created under the leadership of David Kordalski. On the left page is a screenshot from, where he outlines his role as coach, coaxer and collaborator during his well-established newspaper tenure.


support they gave to me, to visual journalism and to SND over the years. Of course, had I known that the Cavs were going to win it all, I might have deferred for six months! There was a little bit of a twinge of regret in not being a part of that. But [the current PD’s AME for design, graphics and projects Josh] Crutchmer and crew did a fantastic job, and I was able to celebrate like a normal Clevelander. What drew you to the position of Creative Director at Crain’s Cleveland Business? I had intended to take about six months or more to refresh and recharge before embarking on my next phase, whatever that was going to be. I was exploring a number of options, including setting up a small design firm, teaching, pivoting entirely away from the communications industry, and even simply taking early retirement. The one thing I was pretty convinced of was that a daily gener-

al-circulation paper was no longer going to be an option. But a friend and former PD colleague, Elizabeth McIntyre, had recently took the reins as Editor and Publisher of Crain’s Cleveland Business. An art director job opened up there about two months into my “self-evaluation period.” Elizabeth was hoping to get creative in solving not just a Cleveland problem, but one with our sister publication, Crain’s Detroit Business, as well. She wanted to discuss a wider role for me than the immediate design opening she had. In the end, it was just too perfect to pass up. I’m working with a small but talented reporting staff, I inherited a fundamentally strong design (thanks, Becky Markovitz!), I get my hands on a wider range of projects that fall way beyond print editorial, I have much more human work hours and I get to spend time in two much-maligned cities that I really enjoy. I couldn’t have scripted it much better. • Design Journal




What words of wisdom would you put out there to more seasoned journalists who are considering making a big move that completely shakes up their comfort zone? Be thoughtful in your choice to leave, if you’re lucky enough to have one. Don’t quit out of anger or frustration over the last few years, but rather look back on the entire sum of your time with your publication. I cherish nearly all the time I spent in newsrooms — few people get the honor to work with such a collection of smart, articulate, compassionate pains in the ass! Use your network of former colleagues who’ve made the transition to brainstorm post-newsroom possibilities. A quick coffee to reconnect with an old buddy from circulation was extremely helpful to me in gathering focus before I took my leap. And if you have only worried about when the ax will fall, stop. Instead, do your best to understand how you might fit into any number of new careers so that if or when it happens, you’re ready to rock and roll into something just as challenging.

At left, a page from Crain’s Cleveland Business, where David Kordalski is the creative director.


concepts that guided the creative process at The Plain Dealer (from





The most valuable design

Our goal is to

Not all news events are

Readers are more visually

concept in creating a

communicate. Period. The

equal. The visual treatment

sophisticated than ever.

useful newspaper is

maxim “less is more” is a

shouldn’t be, either. Our

Don’t design down to

consistency. Visual

good one in reaching that

framework must be able

them or over-complicate

repetition of the

goal. Do not let visual

to flex to meet the needs

the reading process,

design’s key elements

clutter reign supreme.

of the content. And when

or represent something

gives readers valuable

Don’t succumb to the

necessary, bend style.

counter to the content.

touchstones of recognition

latest “cool technique”

Just make sure it’s

Understand and reflect the

and familiarity. The

or “hot trend” to assuage

appropriate to the content,

history of the institution,

less time our readers

personal creative urges.

not an excuse to infuse

and pay respect to readers

spend navigating the

Simple, clear design makes

the page with personal

by organizing information

newspaper means more

it easy for readers to get

flourishes that degrade the

in useful, understand-

time for reading.

our message quickly.

overall design.

able ways.


Design Journal • Spring 2017



The mini-Q/A: Jane Mitchell

Current position: Designer at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland.

After an internship in D.C., in arts management, you found your way into newspapers. How did that transition happen? And what was it like at first?

It was painful. I was learning on the job, and in a very public way. Ryan Hildebrandt took a chance when he hired me at the Louisville Gannett Design Studio. I started at small community newspapers where I had to be taught even the fundamentals of laying out a newspaper page. When I asked about, and was assigned to the Cincinnati Enquirer Forum section, I was so concerned with creating illustrations that I neglected the craft, the structure of the page. I thought I would stand out by being clever (or, at least, trying to be), but I wasn’t thinking, or focusing enough, on being good with type. When I started working with David Kordalski at The Plain Dealer, I began to learn about and appreciate structure. I work with extremely talented illustrators and photographers, so my job is much more about ensuring that the illustrations, photos and type all work well together. I’ve learned to think more holistically about a page. Giving each element its proper proportion is just as gratifying as coming up with a clever illustration. What words of wisdom do you have for someone like yourself, who loves to make art and sees things differently, yet wants to find a way to reach readers? I no longer think there’s a difference between art-for-yourself and art-for-others. Any art, be it fine art, music, design or illustration, is an attempt to connect. So, I guess the advice I would give is

Page design by Jane Mitchell

to be generous — even though there is always the risk of rejection. You never know when a great idea will hit. Just show up and keep working. I’ve never forgotten a book signing where the author — a street photographer — told us that “if you take a hundred shots in a day and get one good photo that’s incredible.” I’m learning to take the highs and the lows and keep working through it. This is one of the things I’ve come to appreciate most about working for a newspaper — the presses keep moving and there’s not much time to tinker. You need to keep producing, and learning, and trying to improve. • Design Journal


Arrows are everywhere, signifying movement. We’d be lost without them. Surprisingly, I SSUE


though, this mark is relatively new — some believe the arrow as symbol is only less than 400 years old. The symbol is often depicted as one would expect: an archer’s arrow with a point, shaft, and fletching. But over time, this arrow symbol has become much more abstract. What remains constant is the basic element of an arrow itself — the point. And the point? To show us the way. *



Design Journal • Spring 2017

 Judging table at the 2015 SND Design Competition in Syracuse.

Phillip Ritzenberg, two-time SND president, has seen a lot in his 50-plus years as a designer, editor and publisher in the industry. For this issue, he riffs on the changes he’s witnessed since 2006 — when his article about change was published in Design Journal and help mark the 100th issue of this publication.


*Source: American Printing History Association. Photo (top) by Julie M. Elman

By Phillip Ritzenberg

t’s been only ten years since SND marked the 100th issue of Design magazine. That qualifying “only” may be appropriate if you are going on 85 like me (that’s not miles per hour but years). It’s not “only” to younger millennials for whom 10 years may be almost half a lifetime. Or even their older cohort for whom it could be half a career. Or, perhaps more stunning by the metrics of our rapidly changing communications world, 10 years ago in July, the now-ubiquitous Twitter had just been launched. And Facebook, a fledgling 2-year-old start-up, was about to be available to anyone over 13 — not just Harvard geeks — and a billion and a half users still to come. Jonathan Berlin, the multi-talented editor of Design in 2006, then of the San

Jose Mercury News, now graphics editor at the Chicago Tribune, wanted to do something overarching for the occasion of the 100th issue — and to recognize the editors of Design who had brought us ideas, Phillip Ritzenberg inspiration, controversy, humor and a dynamic history of graphic journalism and news design unfolding over 26 years. He asked me to do such a piece, and we agreed on the notion of “what we’ve learned from where we’ve been.” Comes now another multi-talented editor of Design, Julie M. Elman, an associate professor at Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication, who wants to do an issue with the cryptic but challenging • Design Journal




“Content is the stuff inside a jar of tomato sauce or a sausage casing. Journalism is not stuff.” — Phillip Ritzenberg

theme of “transition.” Thinks that the decade-old article contains some verities that should be offered to young members who would not have seen it half a lifetime, or half a career ago. So because all media — social, communications, even verbal and personal — have so changed in the decade since, here are a few added thoughts that an old-timer would share with his younger colleagues for today. AP P REC I ATI NG TY PO G R A PH Y “A love of letters is the beginning of typographical wisdom. That is, the love of letters as literature and the love of letters as physical entities, having abstract beauty of their own, apart from the ideas that may express or the emotions that may evoke.” That’s from the late John R. Biggs, an English illustrator, educator and writer of 20 books on the graphic arts, in An Approach to Type, his 1949 book. Good counsel once we understand the centrality of typography in our communications — whether on paper or on a screen. Having grown up in an old-fashioned print shop (no, not a copy shop, but an inky letterpress relic, run by my father and my uncle in Cleveland), I long ago liked Biggs’s quote. So much so that I incorporated the opening line in century-old wood type (84-point Caslon Bold Italic) into a 4-by-4-foot assemblage of mostly wood type that hangs in the Hewlett-Woodmere (Long Island) Public Library. And, by the way, Biggs’ quote (in Aldus Roman) is in one of the handsomest soft-cover books you will ever own if you can find “Manuale Typographicum,” published by MIT Press. Its cover describes it as “100 typographic pages with quota-


Design Journal • Spring 2017

tions from the past and present on types and printing in 16 different languages, selected and designed by Herman Zapf.” Yes, that Zapf. ST ICK I N G TO P R I N C I P L E S “Get the hell off my lawn!” Every journalist should have the good fortune to work with at least one genius in his or her career — one like Michael J. O’Neill, editor of The New York Daily News and my boss for more than 16 years. He seems to have had a ballpoint pen stain on almost every one of his shirt pockets but beneath those blue blots beat a great American newspaper heart. In 1982 I attended a luncheon in New York at which O’Neill was to speak as the outgoing president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Instead of the presumed indulgent intramural farewell, he excoriated American editors for their growing resort to the invasive journalism — on behalf of the public’s right to know — that has often unfairly shamed subjects, humiliated families, virtually intruded into bedrooms, and, in one anecdote, elicited the quote above as frenzied reporters and cameramen churned up a politician’s lawn. The snarky gossip website Gawker, which claims to cover media and celebrities, is among the avatars of this ugly parajournalism. It was ordered by a Florida court to pay $115 million to the wrestler Hulk Hogan for posting a tape of Hogan engaged in sexual intercourse with the then-wife of his best pal, the radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge. If you think that is trash, please note that the video was accompanied by an essay on celebrity sex from Gawker’s then-editor. Apparently no lawn was injured to post that report.

GETT I N G TO T H E TRU TH Content is the stuff inside a jar of tomato sauce or a sausage casing. Journalism is not stuff. You can’t get much more big-time a journalist than Norman Pearlstine who spent 24 years at The Wall Street Journal, became its editor and publisher, and was honored for lifetime achievement by the American Society of Magazine Editors. In the new parlance of journalism, he now serves Time, Inc. — apparently without blushing — as “director of content.” Content. News, opinion, analysis, criticism, photojournalism, graphics, videos as stuff. Stuff between the ads. But Martin Baron, editor of The Washington Post, in recent remarks to the Newspaper Association of America, said: “I distinguish journalism from just content. Anyone can produce content, but journalism is really the core value of getting at the truth …” Indeed, Baron, when he was editor of The Boston Globe, presided over the paper’s coverage of child molestation in the Catholic Church, which was an internationally acclaimed achievement in journalism — and of course the story of the 2015 Oscar-winning film “Spotlight.” Jim Rutenberg, media columnist of The New York Times, recently wrote of the great changes in how news organizations present their journalism, including through social media where it may compete for attention with trivia. He said: “Given the highest calling of the news industry — holding politicians to account, unearthing corruption — the importance to our political and civic life could not be greater.”

Font to the right? Caslon Pro Bold Italic

“A love of letters is the beginning of typographical wisdom. That is, the love of letters as literature and the love of letters as physical entities, having abstract beauty of their own, apart from the ideas that may express or the emotions that may evoke.” — John. R. Biggs • Design Journal




A bit about blue: “In the 20th century, it also became possible to own your own color of blue. The French artist Yves Klein, with the help of a French paint dealer, created a specific blue called International Klein blue, which he patented. It was made of ultramarine combined with a resin called Rhodopa, which gave it a particularly brilliant color.” Source: Good ol’ Wikipedia!

A BLUE BRIT Nigel Holmes wears the color blue every day. Every piece of clothing: blue. His kitchen: blue. His car: blue. His mood: perpetually cheery when he’s talking about the color blue. Holmes, an infographic extraordinaire, took some time out of a busy day to articulate the timeline of when all this blue in his life took hold, and why it remains part of his life today.


y mother had a riding school. And she liked the riding students to be nicely dressed when they went out, because she wanted the village to be proud of this little riding school. She was a little bit of a stickler about what people wore — you had to wear jodhpurs, you had to wear a hat, of course. This is early ’60s, which was a more formal time, especially in [Swanland] England. I was at boarding school and had kind of stopped riding a bit, because I was interested in other things, like girls. But my mother said, “You know, I’d really like to get you for your 17th birthday, a really nice riding jacket.” And I said, “Well, I’d like a blue one.” I’m not exactly sure why I said blue, but we found a really nice material — and I loved the jacket. It was kind of tapered to my body. I wish I still had it. Getting that jacket made me think, “Oh — you can get things in unusual colors.” Nowadays, it’s terribly easy to get anything in blue, so today, I have no trouble at all — even with shoes. But at that time, I was just about to go to art school, and everybody wore black. So I thought — I wasn’t a revolutionary, or anything like that — but I just thought, “I’m not going to wear black.” Once I started to wear blue, I just thought, “Why don’t we try everything in blue?” And it took a few years to make the transition to 100 percent blue. I was 17, and I’m 73 now, so it was a long time ago. (Maybe when I was about 60, I thought, “You know, there are some greens that I like. And some little bits of yellow.” And so some of my things have got a little bit of other colors in them.) Whenever I go to an optician, and they have a pair of round blue glasses,


Design Journal • Spring 2017

I will just buy them and put them away, so the next time, when I have to change my prescription, I can give them another pair of glasses, and then use the spare pair. I like the color. I think about it quite a lot. I think about what goes with what, or doesn’t. And in the summer, I’m a lot lighter with colors: pale blue jeans and just a shirt without the undershirt and shorts and so on. My office, which is a separate building from the house, is very blue. Blue carpet. Blue trim. The kitchen is blue. I have a very blue car. It feels comforting [to be surrounded by blue]. I mean, I couldn’t think of something worse than wearing something that was red. I don’t like brown, or camel. Or gray, or black. Or purple. [Makes a sound of distress here.] Or orange. I see people looking at me on the train platform, looking at me. They’re wearing their gray — or on Fridays, of course, they’re wearing their khakis — going into the city. And they look at me like I’m some kind of peculiar guy. Nigel Holmes ( is a world-renowned infographics designer whose work has been widely published. From 1978 to 1984, he worked for Time magazine, most recently as graphics director. Interview by Julie M. Elman

Photo by Julie M. Elman

“I like the color. I think about it quite a lot.”

— Nigel Holmes • Design Journal



Design Journal • Spring 2017




Of note. Note-taking, Tong style The tools: Adrienne Tong uses Zebra Sarasa ballpoint pens, size .025. For highlighting, she uses Zebra Mildliner pens. Her notebook of choice: a Leuchtturm 1917, size B5 with a dot grid. What you don’t see here: “Each monthly section is divided by more illustrative pages. I have a spread for each month to kick it off, where I have the important dates that I know are going to happen pretty far out.” (Some of) what she chronicles: “I keep track of the weather, just because I really like keeping track of when it’s going to rain. So, if I sit down the night before, and kind of map out my day, I know that, one, I’ll be dressed properly, and two, I’ll know if I need to grab an umbrella. “I keep track of what I wear everyday, partially for fun, and partially because I frequently procrastinate on laundry. If I can’t find something, I can easily go back through [my notebook] and see if it’s just dirty, or if I actually cannot find it. “And I try and keep track of what I eat every day. It helps me remember to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, because I’m pretty busy, and it’s kind of easy to push that off to the side and not do it.” “I always mark sunrise and sunset, and I can track as the days get shorter, and when I need to be a little more cautious walking home from class. Also, my room faces the sunrise, so every morning I’m woken up by it — this is a good way of tracking when I’m waking up, regardless of when my alarm goes off.” Left, two pages from one of Adrienne Tong’s notebooks. Photo by Julie M. Elman

We guesstimated that the point size of the handwriting Adrienne Tong uses for her class notes and journaling is roughly 5.5. Maybe 6. Her unique “type treatment,” combined with some smart choices in information architecture, add up to some remarkable note-taking that’s user-friendly and a sight to behold. Interview by Julie M. Elman

When did you start taking notes like this? I always took excessive notes, just because I always found that writing them out made it easier for me to remember. I really remember starting to take notes like this in my AP Art History class my junior year of high school — just because there’d be so much analysis in the paintings, and I figured the more information I had, the better I could write about it later on in my exam. What’s key about your note-taking? One of the things that’s really important to me and my notes — since it’s so important in design, but also just in how things work in general — is creating a really clear hierarchy. In your entire notebook, I’m not seeing mistakes. Is that just like … [voice trails off because interviewer is speechless.] I do have mistakes every once in a while, and I have this adorable, tiny White-Out. It perfectly covers the exact size of my letters. (All of Tong’s writing materials are Japanese-made, because she finds that these choices offer her the finest-point lines “for characters to be really clear.”) Tell me more about your notes. I’ve realized I prefer all my notes to be handwritten, and I don’t use a planner or a regular notebook because my needs frequently change, and what I want to keep track of frequently changes, too. You can see the differences in this notebook (at left) over time. … As I use it, I realize more of what I want out of it and how I want to look at it, and what I need to be successful — and how can I set myself up for that. My notebook is constantly changing, and that’s why I like it — being paper and being just a blank page — because I can turn it into whatever I need it to be, or whatever I want it to be. Adrienne Tong is a junior design major at the School of Visual Communication at Ohio University. She breathes, eats, sleeps and dreams infographics. • Design Journal




Become an SND member today! The Society for News Design invents, makes, promotes and teaches the world’s best visual journalism.

SND38 judging, making a move By Josh Crutchmer, competition committee chair

W New host site Starting in 2017, the Best of News Design Creative Competition will take place at the St. Petersburg Coliseum in St. Petersburg, Florida.

ith a mix of sentiment and excitement, the Society for News Design’s print competition committee selected a new host site for the Best of News Design Creative Competition, beginning in 2017. SND38 judging took place at the St. Petersburg, Fla., Coliseum, bringing to an end two-and-a-half decades of partnership with Syracuse University and Drumlins Country Club. The move was made with efficiency in mind, as winter travel to Syracuse, always unpredictable, has become increasingly challenging in recent years as airlines have consolidated and cut back. We availed ourselves of access to the

Poynter Institute and create a new webinar series, available free to all members, and we reaffirmed SND’s commitment to making students a part of judging, including the students and faculty from Syracuse. The decision was made after more than a year of research into both the cost and practicality of hosting judging in a new location. In February 2016, St. Petersburg was selected by a 9-0 vote by the competition committee. We cannot replace the networks, connections and friendships that our association with Syracuse has brought to both individuals and the society, but we are ready to step ahead and forge new paths and relationships on Florida’s Suncoast.

The Best of News Design annual book goes digital


he Society for News Design has released its first digital version of The Best of News Design annual book for iPad and iPhone. Created by Douglas Okasaki, SND president, the ebook is a completely new experience with videos, gallery and interviews. “The competition comes to life with this project. It’s an ideal teaching resource for educators with comments from the judges. It’s an exciting overview of the very best design,” said Sara Quinn, SND immediate past president. SND print competition committee chair Josh Crutchmer agreed. “This ebook is something SND members and participants in the Best of News Design deserve,” he said. “It is long overdue. I hope people find it both inspiring and fun to use.” The book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device in iTunes store. • Design Journal


Society for News Design 424 E. Central Blvd., Suite 406 Orlando, FL 32801 U.S.A. ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED

SNDclt2017 Our goal is to deliberately break from traditional conference programming to promote collaborative, experiential, and peer-driven knowledge-sharing in a safe and stimulating environment. … As a united front, our community is better-equipped to rebel against the status quo — and push the boundaries of what is possible in storytelling, media and technology. Register today! April 19–21, 2017 56

Design Journal • Spring 2017

• Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.A. •

Design Journal (SND)  

The Society for News Design invents, makes, promotes and teaches the world’s best visual journalism. Founded in 1979, we are an internationa...

Design Journal (SND)  

The Society for News Design invents, makes, promotes and teaches the world’s best visual journalism. Founded in 1979, we are an internationa...