Meet the 2016 SNDF Scholarship winner

Niklas Marienhagen, a student at the University of Applied Sciences in Augsburg, Germany, is the winner of the 2016 SND Foundation Scholarship. Marienhagen, chosen by a panel of five judges, will receive a $2,000 cash award. Marienhagen’s portfolio focuses heavily on infographics and illustration, and he credits two longtime and very active SND members — Michael Stoll and Tim Goheen — for his interest and introduction to journalism. I asked Marienhagen to share a little about himself:

“I grew up in Ratisbon, a small town of 150,000 inhabitants in Bavaria, Germany, where I followed the usual educational path to my A-Grades in 2013. The problem with this system was that due to a contraction from 9 years to 8 years of grammar school in Bavaria, the same volume of teaching content was condensed into a shorter period of time. Therefore it took me until my last two years in school to think about my talents, interests and future profession.”

An art deco themed postcard collection, visualizing emotions felt on  occasions such as birth, sorrow, marriage, birthdays, Christmas and  farewells.
An art deco themed postcard collection, visualizing emotions felt on
occasions such as birth, sorrow, marriage, birthdays, Christmas and
farewells.

“Since I was a little boy, I was drawn to creative and visual hobbies like drawing and art, so I decided to visit an art and design school in Ratisbon for one year in 2013-14, where I got insights into a huge variety of creative fields, e.g., graphic design, typography, photography, illustration, costume design and architecture.”

“After a year, I moved to Augsburg to study graphic design at the University of Applied Sciences Augsburg. There I met Professor Michael Stoll, who is teaching information design. I was immediately drawn into this field, because it holds the opportunity to use creative skills in purpose to communicate important and valuable content.”

Marienhagen's charcoal drawings of a chameleon for a children's book illustration assignment.
Marienhagen’s charcoal drawings of a chameleon for a children’s book illustration assignment.

“Since then, I’ve tried to get as much content about information design as possible with the support of Prof. Stoll, who introduced me to the SND as well.”

“When I first started my studies in Augsburg I wanted to become a designer, because I am talented in arts and visual aesthetics and I really enjoy to create visually appealing illustrations, layout and photographs. But concerning the job opportunities and my personal integrity I always had ethical doubts about using the tools that I learned for selling products from companies I don‘t really want to support. It is important to me to create useful things that actually add value to my audience. Therefore I thought about possibilities to use design skills for this purpose and as a lucky coincidence my university is one of the few in Germany that offers the possibility to specialize in information design.”

An infographic detailing how white and red wines are made, where the color of the wine comes  from (the shells, not from the inside), and how the vintner knows when the grapes are ripe. (Click to enlarge)
An infographic detailing how white and red wines are made, where the color of the wine comes
from (the shells, not from the inside), and how the vintner knows when the grapes are ripe. (Click to enlarge).

“I discovered the field as a fitting domain for me when I took part at a workshop held by Tim Goheen, who visited us from the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University.”

“What I especially like about information design is that it presents important facts in a visually appealing way which can help to communicate complex information and therefore to spread education and knowledge. This is an important foundation to a modern democracy and to the sophisticated society where I want to live in and a way for me to make a valuable and vital contribution to it.”

“I hope that I can do my share at creating information design and visual journalism in the future as well as experimenting with innovative technologies. I am really looking forward to gain experience and more insights into this field of work based on an internship at an interesting and vibrant team.”

A 15-minute documentary on sustainable clothing, on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sDcvVrd8Hw&feature=youtu.be
A 15-minute documentary on sustainable clothing, on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sDcvVrd8Hw&feature=youtu.be

About Stephen Komives

is Executive Director of the Society for News Design.

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