Emily Wright, a junior at the Ball State University, is this year’s winner of the $2,000 SND Foundation scholarship. Wright, who is planning to graduate in spring, 2020, is the art and creative director of the Ball State Daily News, graphic artist at Cool Cayenne and chapter president for the Society for News Design (SND).
A panel of five SND leaders selected Wright for the award based on her answers to two essay questions, the quality of her portfolio, the breadth of her experience, her professor’s recommendation and her strong academic performance. I asked her to share some details about her design journey:
Tell me your SND story and how did you first learn about us?
I first heard of SND during my freshman year at Ball State through a callout email that came to all of the journalism graphics students. I started going to our chapter meetings and began getting involved with student media right away, which I think is what really allowed me to flourish in the field while still at school. Being an active member of our chapter led to a leadership role my sophomore year and now I am the chapter president. I think it’s amazing to lead such a great group for an awesome organization. I love to see all the new people in the visual journalism area come to our meetings and getting involved just like I did when I was new to the school and to the SND chapter.
You talk about moving from print design to new media, how have you approached these new design outlets?
I have been working with print design for my whole career at Ball State, but digital media is an area I am pushing myself to excel in. I work for our school newspaper, The Ball State Daily News, where I am the creative director over print as well as online articles. The work our team puts into enterprise stories is something I am trying to push the limits on as far as online content. I work with our web developer to create special pages for these stories, where we include graphics, photos, videos and everything in between to create a multi-platform story. Above all, I work to push my boundaries on design and creativity with these special projects.
This is just scratching the surface of new design outlets, but as I continue to advance in my skills, I am keeping more than just print in mind when designing. I think about how the concept may work for different platforms and how I would have to adapt it to work in different ways. I think the most important thing about new media and design is to be on the lookout for new tools and sources for these outlets. Being versed in the most up-to-date tools that are out there will give you the edge you need to be successful in the competitive field of journalism. Even just doing side projects for yourself to learn how to design and use new platforms will allow you to gain the experience you’ll need in the field. I approach new outlets that are popping up with an open mind and a mindset that I’m willing to learn. That’s another thing I have learned while studying graphics – designers for modern media never stop learning. There will always be new platforms to design for and a learning curve that follows. I think it’s all about keeping an open mind and never feeling complacent in your skills that makes you a great designer.
When working on deadline, you say you are able to think on your toes and still create quality, innovative content. Are there any lessons you can share from this process?
Because I work on a tight deadline with newspaper content, I have learned how to create compelling content quickly. I think the main lesson I have learned from this experience is how important it is to be flexible. I may have an idea for the direction a story was going the previous day, but when I come in the next day, the storyline could be completely different. You have to realize that you’re working with the news and the news changes by the minute. I think this concept can trip a lot of people up – they have an idea and the next thing they know, it may be scrapped and they’re thrown back to the drawing board. It’s all part of the process, and being flexible with new developments and changes will allow you to create the most compelling art for an article.
Any plans post-graduation?
I have one more year left here at Ball State, so my plans as of now are to gain as much experience as possible through student media and internships during the time I have left in college. After I graduate, I hope to get a job working for the creative team at a news outlet. Besides work, I hope to travel as much as possible and learn about people around the world.