How Rodrigo Sanchez became a household name for visual journalists

It may be obvious to everyone now that Rodrigo Sanchez was destined for design. After all, he is the winner of the Society for News Design’s lifetime achievement award.

But Sanchez, El Mundo’s art and creative director, said he didn’t aspire to be a designer when he was growing up, as a teenager or even when he began his first year at Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

The spark came in his second year of school, when he switched his studies from advertising to journalism. Initially, Sanchez thought he would become a reporter, but found his calling in design. He became what some have called a legend by competing with nobody else but himself.

Sanchez had a conversation with Tracy Collins the director of the Gannett Phoenix Design Studio at the #SNDSF Student Day. His daughter Sofia Irazusta, a graduation student of multimedia communication at the Academy of Art University, sat down with Rodrigo and Collins as well. Rodrigo said his family and the love that they give him is a major reason why he is successful in his career.

Sanchez-2
Collins asks Rodrigo about his childhood. Photo by Stephanie Redding

Collins asked Sanchez about his life growing up in Spain and what got him to the point he is at in his life and career. To Sanchez, it was a combination between making mistakes and being fearless.

“When I was very young, I was very professional. I wanted to be the best,” said Sanchez, whose words was translated by his daughter Sofia.

American journalists and news designers heavily influenced Sanchez early on in his career. To him, the best newspaper and the best designers were in America.

Little did he know that American journalists and news designers would be heavily influenced by him.

Sanchez said the challenges he encountered early in his career made him better because he learned to solve every problem in a very natural way.

“You need to know how to read the pages and how to understand the pages, ” he said.

According to Sanchez, the moment he understood the connection between drawing and typography was when he became a designer. And how he got to Metropoli?

“Metropoli happened because of a mess up,” Sanchez said. “Nobody wanted to do it, so I had to do it.”

Sanchez said his experiences in his career led him to understand that he had to make mistakes in order to become good, and he couldn’t be afraid of anything.

“Don’t be afraid to do something bad,” Sanchez said. “It’s just the cover of a magazine.”