Q+A with Thomas Molén — Malofiej’s Best of Show winner

The winner of this year's Peter Sullivan Award at Malofiej is an interactive graphic by Thomas Molén of the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

Thomas Molén, a visual journalist for Svenska Dagbladet (Stockholm), is a self-proclaimed “visual junkie” and “infographics nerd.” He’s also an award-winner. His online graphic showing voting patterns in last year’s Eurovision Song Contest won the Peter Sullivan/Best of Show award in this year’s Malofiej competition.

Web graphics are only a small part of the type of work Thomas produces. In his much-talked-about presentation during this year’s Malofiej summit, he began with a trailer (see it below) for his own presentation. The examples of his work presented ranged from a map he made by cutting and arranging pickled fish (“very smelly”) to a zombie attack animation, in which he and his wife acted as models. He also provided insight into his creative spaces by showing a video of his commute and his home office/projection room. 

Throughout Thomas’ presentation, his zeal for his work, especially on unconventional and “nerdy” topics was evident. The audience was left with the impression that there isn’t an area of Thomas’ life not influenced or driven by love for all things visual. His works are varied, passion-driven, and uniquely him

Thomas Molén (Photo by Gert K. Nielsen)

Fresh-off his Malofiej experience, Thomas answered five questions for SND.org.

1. As a self-proclaimed “infographics nerd,” how do you relate to your non-nerd audience?

There are more nerds out there than you might think. And if the audience is large enough, then there will always be a group of people that will appreciate your work, no matter how small the subject. BUT you also have to be aware of the people that are not interested in the subject and draw their attention too. The ideal situation, for me as a reader, is when you learn something new on a subject that you didn’t know existed. Or when you learn something new about a subject you thought you new everything about. Or are entertained. Or both.

2. You work well in so many different formats. Which is your favorite and why?

Now here’s something I feel strongly about. Do all kinds of work, small and big. On all subject matters. In all styles and media. Do not limit yourself in any way. There is nothing you cannot do.

Thomas Molén's trailer from his Malofiej 18 presentation.

3. What inspired you most at Malofiej 18?

What was inspiring was how much work so many people have invested into their work. And so much thinking. Some of the works were really awesome.

4. Your online graphic won Best of Show, how do you feel about print and online entries competing for the same prize?

Even though online and print are two very different mediums, I think that there can be only one Best of show. There can be several golds for online and print, but the Best of show is THE best.

5. What was the reaction at home upon your winning Best of Show?

A lot of congratulations, of course. Flowers. But also a few people that saw the graphic for the first time, who thought it was impressive.

Kaitlin Yarnall, a Senior Research Editor at National Graphic Maps, was a member of the jury for this year’s Malofiej in Pamplona, Spain.