SND38 Individual Portfolio Winner Spotlight: Matt French

Matt French
Assistant Art Director
The Globe and Mail

What is your current title, and how long have you held that position?
I’m the assistant art director for The Globe and Mail. I’ve been with the company for just over five years.

What do you love about designing for print?
I’ve always struggled with my identity as designer – my left-brain and right-brain are deeply at odds. I consider myself a creative person, but I’m also slightly OCD. Designing for print has a wonderful way of satisfying both sides of the brain simultaneously. It’s a creative process, but there’s also a structure behind it that makes the chaos feel more controlled. Also, having a finite amount of space to work with forces me to be thoughtful about how I use every square inch of the page.

What is the most important step in your design process?
Marinating. The more time I can let a story idea stew in the back of my mind, the more likely I am to have an ‘aha moment’ for visualizing a concept. Some of my favourite front pages have come out of the blue while I’m not at work. The idea for the ‘Will Trump…’ cover popped into my head while I was waiting in line for take-out fried chicken. So, it’s really important for me to read a draft early and let my subconscious do the heavy lifting while I go about my day.

Who in your newsroom do you most enjoy collaborating with?
Anyone who is passionate about our journalism and storytelling. I’m really lucky to work with some of the most talented individuals in the country, so passion is never in short supply. I once heard someone say “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” In my five years at The Globe and Mail, I can safely say that I’ve never found myself in the wrong room.

What is your favorite piece in your portfolio?
The ‘How we got here’ front page. It was a simple visual – iconic and easily interpreted – and it had a witty undertone that captured the spirit of our coverage perfectly.

What was the most challenging to pull off?
Again, probably the ‘How we got here’ front page. The idea came to me midday with only a few hours until deadline. It was a real test of my time-management skills to actualize the concept and pull together the page.

What advice would you have for print designers striving to be innovative in their newsrooms?
Designing for print is a great way to focus your design thinking, build editorial instincts, and help enable you to pre-visualize your work – but it’s not the end game. A designer’s goal should always be storytelling and journalism, and neither of these are inextricably bound to print. Innovation in the newsroom is going to come from designers who can separate themselves from any one particular platform and start thinking of themselves as content creators, regardless of the medium.


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!

About Andrea Zagata

is a news designer at The New York Times.

Leave a Reply

*