Julie Elman, professor, Ohio University

The Society for News Design is excited to announce that Julie Elman is joining our lineup of speakers for the SND Charlotte workshop on April 19-21 in Charlotte, N.C.

Elman is an Associate Professor at the Ohio University School of Visual Communications where she has taught for over a decade. Prior to her time in Athens, Elman was design and picture editor at the Virginian Pilot. She is an acclaimed illustrator and founder of “The Fear Project,” which is a visual exploration of the fears people experience in their daily lives. She recently published Fear Illustrated: Transforming What Scares Us.

SND.org’s Greicy Mella chatted with Elman about her career path,  designing and illustrating books, and what SND has meant to her.

HOW DID YOU FIRST ENCOUNTER SND? Wow. I really don’t remember. I did attend the SND Workshop for the first time in San Jose in 2004, and that was when I was exposed to what SND was all about and the people who were part of making SND what it was, and still is, today.

WHAT PROMPTED YOU AS SOMEONE WITH A FINE ARTS DEGREE TO PURSUE NEWS DESIGN AS A CAREER PATH? I have a BA in commercial art and an MFA in photography — and I was always driven to tell stories with my creative endeavors, so it was a natural move for me to also be involved with visual communication classes when I was a grad student. Coming out of grad school (Ohio University), I started out working as a photojournalist, then moved into picture editing, then design. I didn’t really see these paths as separate things — to me, it was all about visual communication and participating in the process of storytelling.

TELL ME A BIT ABOUT YOUR PROCESS DESIGNING PETE SOUZA’S BOOK “THE RISE OF BARACK OBAMA.” We worked very quickly (six weeks) to turn that book around for the publisher. My job was to keep things simple design-wise, and let Pete’s photographs shine.

TELL US A BIT ABOUT THE FEAR PROJECT. WHEN AND HOW DID YOU START ILLUSTRATING PEOPLE’S FEARS? WHAT MADE YOU FIRST DO THAT? WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT YOUR OWN FEAR IN THE PROCESS? HAS THE PROJECT CHANGED YOU AT ALL? IF SO, HOW? I started the Fear Project in 2012. The work I created for this has culminated into a book that was released this year, Fear, Illustrated: Transforming What Scares Us. I had been thinking about the whole idea of fear in my own life, and I wondered how fear affected others. First, I asked people I was close to about their fears. As word got out about my project, more and more people just started sharing their fears with me. By creating so many illustrations about fear over the years, I have learned that doing and making is far more effective than waiting around for inspiration to strike.

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NEXT? HOW DO YOU FIND TIME FOR ALL THESE PROJECTS OUTSIDE YOUR REGULAR WORK? I continue to work on creating illustrations for the Fear Project and trying to find ways to expand the reach of the project. I continue to design all sorts of projects. And for fun, I doodle a whole lot. Science says it’s good for the brain! Oh, and I’m also working on being a better banjo player. I prioritize and seek a good balance in my life — and I make the time to do the work that feeds my soul.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT AT SND CHARLOTTE? The people. The flow and wealth of ideas. The creative love-fest.

Register now

About SND Charlotte

• Don’t miss your chance to UNITE & REBEL, register today: Register
• Book your hotel room (before they run out!): Use the SND discount link
• Check out the lineup of speakers we’ve announced for the workshop. What a team!
• Don’t miss the Think Before You Make pre-conference day at the U.S. National Whitewater Center