Durado is the Chief Creative Officer of Muscat Media Group, publisher of two major dailies, Times of Oman and Al Shabiba. He also works as an adjunct design consultant with several clients in Africa, Asia and Europe. His work has received honors from the Society for News Design, the Society of Publication Designers, the Type Directors Club, the Society of Illustrators, Malofiej Infographics Awards, the European Newspaper Awards, HOW magazine, Communication Arts magazine, Creative Quarterly Journal and WAN-IFRA Media Awards.
Farach has has been telling stories through graphics for more than two decades. He started at a local daily newspaper, Diario Tiempo, without knowing that he’d end up as an infographic designer. He took up civil engineering in his undergrad and later abandoned his studies when he discovered the power of Adobe Illustrator. He maintains that his mathematical background gave him an edge in the infographics field. After spending a decade at Tiempo, he started doing freelance work for American and European publications. In 2010, Durado recruited him to lead the graphics department of Times of Oman and Al Shabiba.
SND.org editor Aviva Loeb asked Durado and Farach about their process and advice for other designers working with infographics and data.
HOW DO YOU VISUALIZE DATA?
Durado: My own approach is quite simplistic and intuitive. After carefully reading the content or the data, I employ a visual concept that best tells the story. Essentially, my formula is to employ a dominant visual — the focal point of the page — and then layer it with secondary or supporting elements.
Farach: My ideal way of visualizing data is through dots and lines. I often use a limited color palette and on white background. Idiosyncratically, I have a strong attachment for empty space which dominates the whole elaboration process. Sketching is really a must after obtaining relevant data. Then, the creation of data sheets is mandatory for me so I can easily control and analyze the database.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST ADVICE FOR SOMEONE WHO ISN’T COMFORTABLE WORKING WITH DATA?
Durado: I have no advice but to face your discomfort and fear. Read the basic literature on how to understand and deal with data.
Farach: I totally agree. Face it or change your job. Infographics or data visualization is not just about aesthetic, it is about scientific discipline. If you have both, then you’re perfect. But if you lack one of the essential skills, partner with someone who can augment what you lack. What is important is you have the passion for storytelling. Even if there’s no single artistic blood that runs in your vein, believe that you can learn.
HOW LONG DOES A TYPICAL INFOGRAPHIC TAKE YOU?
Durado: It really depends on the story and how intricate or ambitious you want the graphic to be. What normally takes the most time is the researching and data-gathering. Of course, in a breaking news graphic, you need to develop the speed and stamina in beating your deadline.
Farach: For small or medium-size graphics, maybe one to five hours. The difference in production time is dramatic if the one gathering the data is also the same person fact-checking it, compared to instances where data is provided.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE PROJECT THAT YOU’VE WORKED ON?
Durado: For sure, the experimental graphics that we did during the World Cup will have a place in my heart.
Farach: Definitely the World Cup 3D Ball graphic.
HOW DO YOU GET EDITORS AND REPORTERS COMFORTABLE WITH SOMETHING THAT LOOKS DIFFERENT?
Durado: You need to be able to articulate to them why you assail the visual in such a manner.
Farach: On a regular or supporting graphic, I avoid visual experimentations. But we definitely have room to explore experimental visualization on special coverage like sports, for which the editors themselves would even demand bolder approaches. I, of course, would evaluate my graphic at any point of the creation to avoid too technical or ambiguous treatment.
WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR INSPIRATION FOR YOUR PROJECTS?
Durado: There are a plethora of inspirations. I usually check the medal winners in Malofiej and SND annual books, or follow infographic blogs such as Visualoop.
Farach: On regular projects, inspirations and ideas flow during the researching stage. But on planned coverage, I notice that inspirations occur in an unexpected way since my mind is preoccupied with the thought of how to link the content with a persuasive concept. If the idea is great but would require a great amount of time in its execution, I would opt for a safe, neutral treatment. I don’t really look for inspiration in others’ works; it’s very easy for me to get distracted or to lose my focus. My tendency is to force myself to give birth to something even if there will be a lot of abortions! Once I like an idea, I stick to it.
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