SND38 Individual Portfolio Winner Spotlight: Chelsea Kleven

Chelsea Kleven
Senior Designer
The Villages Daily Sun

What is your title, and how long have you been in that role?
I’m a Senior Designer. I’ve been in that role for a little over a year, and have been with the Daily Sun for almost 4 years.

What do you love about designing for print?
I’ve always been a creative person, so it’s a privilege to come to work every day and get to do something that I find incredibly enjoyable. In particular, the Daily Sun has an audience that is very responsive to what we produce, so I’ve been able to get feedback from readers over the years and really tailor my work to what they want to see. It’s a great feeling to know you’re producing a product that is useful and enjoyable.

I can’t tell for sure from the images on the website, but this appears to be six pages from one project, is that correct?
Yes, it was one large project that ran over six weeks.

Can you tell us how the concept was developed?
I have a weekly feature page that runs each Sunday, and it’s largely focused on activities or ways to be active. I created a page of small “color by number” drawings, and we got great response from our readers on that page. They wanted to see more, and I wanted to provide it for them — but on a much larger scale. Adult coloring books have been hugely popular the last few years, but what made this different — besides the scale — was completely localizing it and making it a reflection of our community. The Villages has many distinct locations, activities and people, so I wanted to capture that. It was a love letter to our Daily Sun readers.

What were the challenges of art directing this?
To begin, I hand drew each page as one large mural. It was difficult to find ways to connect the pages, but also make them look like complete, individual pages. That process took a couple weeks. I thought once the hand drawing was scanned in that there would only be a few small details to finesse, but I ended up pumping an incredible amount of detail and patterns into each page. I found that the more pattens and intricacies I added, the better it looked. Adding in details took about another month. There were also concerns about if any color should be added (it was decided no) and if newsprint would be heavy enough to color on (our publisher decided to run it on heavier paper.)

What in your newsroom environment do you feel facilitates good design work?
We are an incredibly collaborative and supportive group. Everyone is willing to teach one another, learn from each other, brainstorm ideas and challenge each other to be better. We’re also expected to be well-rounded journalists — visual thinkers who can research and write and edit our own work.

Our creative process is also given an incredible amount of priority. If I need more time to work on a project, my editors are willing to move my schedule around. If I need more real estate to really develop an idea, I can (almost always) have it. When I pitched this project I ask for it to be three connected pages. My editor said, “how about six?”

Where do you look for inspiration? How do you seek to improve your work?
I feel like I have so much still to learn, and I hope that’s a sentiment that always sticks with me. I try to look outside of news design for inspiration. I’m a huge fan of Pinterest, Behance and Society6 — there’s so much great work out there, it’s almost overwhelming. Trying to come up with ways to make my feature series active is something that has continually pushed my creativity. How many ways can I get a reader to pick up this paper with a complete activity in their hands?

I feel like the best way to improve my work is to get better at the tools I work with. So I’m constantly trying to do Photoshop and Illustrator tutorials. Even if I don’t use the end result of whatever the tutorial was teaching, I find that I often pick up new techniques and ways of doing things along the way.

What does it take to do great print design? Former SND Competition Coordinator Andrea Zagata set out to find tips and tricks from the winners. Check every week for interviews with the best of the best!

About Andrea Zagata

is a news designer at The New York Times.

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