What is your current job title, and how long have you held it?
Creative director, two weeks. Before that, I was deputy presentation and planning editor for six-and-a-half years.
What do you love about working in print design?
The challenge of telling a story so well visually that a reader doesn’t have the read one paragraph to know what the story is about. Once they begin reading the story, I like finding ways to help the reader navigate through it without that feeling they’ve missed something. That usually requires space, whether it’s running a cool photo 12 columns wide or breaking up a long story into multiple jump pages so the reader never feels overwhelmed. But getting that space isn’t always possible. It’s a thrill to look at a project for the first time in print and recognize the collaborative effort between all the folks who had a hand in making it successful.
How do you decide between using photography, illustration, graphics or typography when approaching a project?
It’s always a case-by-case basis, but I first look to the photos. If they’re awesome, then does the project require anything to compliment the art? After that, we discuss whether another strategy should lead the way. Some big projects require the use of photo, illustration and typography. The challenge there is to make it all cohesive.
Among regularly occurring events that the World-Herald covers, which one do you look forward to designing for the most?
I dread all the big projects and recurring special sections because I always worry (probably too much) that the story ideas won’t lead to strong visual concepts. I get excited (sometimes super excited!) after we come up with smart visual ideas and start building off them.
Which is the most challenging?
The college football preview. It runs the last week in August, and we start with story and theme planning sessions in April. But it never seems like we start planning early enough, and we spend a lot of time during the weeks in July and August focusing on it. The year before I arrived in Omaha the preview was a 52-page tab packed with not only Nebraska Cornhusker and college football stories, but high school and NFL coverage. It was ugly and gray. In the last 11 years we created a monster, not only in size but expectations. Last year it was 36 pages in three broadsheet sections, and all college football. We strive to come up with a theme that can weave throughout the section and works with the same elements we use every year. Last year every photo and illustration was in black and white to match our gritty machine theme. It sounded crazy when I said it out loud. But it worked. Every year since 2007 the section has won national awards for both content and design, so we’ve set a high bar.
How do you feel that being an SND member has helped you grow professionally?
My career really didn’t take off until I attended my first SND competition in 2010 – it flipped the switch, and I’ve been back every year since. It’s one thing to see the pages in the SND annual, but quite another to see them on the tables. That’s especially true of the long form entries, because you don’t see the entire set in the annual, and some of those can be 50 or 100-plus pages. Through the competition and conferences I’ve developed relationships with other designers who helped me not only in solving design problems, but with career decisions. And I met my wife (Katie Myrick Parks) in Syracuse, so SND also helped me grow in my personal life (an amazing bonus!). Besides being super cool, she’s also a excellent design editor and has pushed me to where I am today.
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 SND.org every week for interviews with the best of the best!