Saturday, December 22, 2012

Maybe it really is the end of the world

Yesterday, folks, I got to feel like a designer again! That might be a little harsh, but I've been feeling like a template monkey lately. (And that's all I'm going to say about that.) ANYWAY, today's Springfield News-Leader 1A featured a centerpiece dominated by mugshots. With help from my team leader, I drew readers to the story, told a story and created a kick-ass page.

Dec. 22, 2012, Springfield News-Leader 1A

I kind of tried to channel my inner Des Moines Register with the red, black and gray. But why fix what isn't broken for a heard news CP? What I love most about this page is that it was totally up to me how it came together. I rewrote the breakout to make it flow better from the end of the headline. And I listed the mugshots in a clean and orderly way without repeating the name information a million times.

What do you think?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Too much of a good thing?

Hello friends. I hope you are all eating lots of cookies and spending time with people that make you happy! I am doing just that, as well as updating my website with some new (and old) clips. It brought me to an interesting dilemma. How many clips are too many clips on a website? While space is never an issue with my site, I don't want to overload people either. Right now, I have 36 different examples of my design. What do you think? Too much? Too little? Just right? I feel like I'm Goldilocks now...

Screen grab from my website:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful, thankful, thankful

This month, I had a plethora of friends and family list things they were thankful for every day of November before the actual Thanksgiving holiday. I didn't participate -- namely because I didn't think all the people following me on Facebook wanted to know about those things. But I am thankful. In fact, this year I have a lot to be thankful for. So, in normal bulleted style, here's my list.

  • My family: I don't have a strong family base in one city or even region of the country. But I am thankful that even though they are in states across the country (across the WORLD), we still communicate on a semi-regular basis. We haven't forgotten each other, and we still love each other for the most part (haha).

  •  My friends: Much like my family, my friends have taken to spreading their wings and moving across the country (across the WORLD). While technology makes it easy to keep in touch without much effort, I am thankful for their love an support they give anyway. I have always relied heavily on my friends to get through the toughest times in my life, and I always will. I love you guys!

  • My job: By nature, there's a lot to complain about in my line of work. We have nightly deadlines,  and we have to rely on a lot of other people to make those deadlines. However, I HAVE a job, so that's something to be thankful for. I've always had a job. Since I was 16 years old. That's something in an economy that is still struggling. 

  • My boyfriend: I know it's gross and corny, but I've moved to a new place before and been the loneliest person. Thanks to this new and amazing relationship I have, I feel more at home than I ever have outside of Missouri. This is an amazing feeling I never thought I would feel again, and I am thankful that he's made that possible.

  • The country: This is corny, but these are all a bit silly. If it weren't for this awesome country where we live, the ability to speak like this might be limited. I know there are factions that disagree, but it's a right we have to do so that is so amazing. I just hope that we can come together and support the nation.

Lastly, I'm thankful to be in a place so beautiful for the holidays. I'm spending it with my step-mother's family in Yosemite National Park. I haven't been here for eight years, and it's crazy how much it hasn't changed. Still as gorgeous as before. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What a difference a year makes

A year ago, I was a very unhappy girl in a part of the country that would never feel like home. I was preparing to go to my first Society of News Design conference. While I was excited to learn a bunch of stuff and bring it back to my newspaper, I was also planning on networking my butt off. I knew there was something better in the world and that I wasn't going anywhere in Savannah.

So I went, and I did network my butt off. It's amazing how many people saw that I had worked for the Savannah Morning News and asked when the paper was going to start winning awards again. (SMN used to be a leader in design. In fact, the director of SND used to work in Savannah. Then corporate took over, but that's another story.) I laughed it off, but in the back of my mind I knew that wasn't going to happen again.

I made it a point to attend the studio consolidation panel, where representatives from Scripps, Gannett, Tribune Co. and others talked about the consolidations of portions their newsrooms. I asked questions because I was concerned about the lack of communication the studios would foster. I think I made an impression.

Then I went to the Gannett meet and greet. I know I made an impression there, as I had three creative directors after me afterward. I ended up taking a job with the Des Moines studio less than a month later.

Fast forward a year. I'm attending another SND conference -- this time in Cleveland. And this time, Gannett is sponsoring me. Out of the 70-some designers in the studio, they tapped me to help represent Des Moines in Ohio. Sure, they might just want to keep an eye on me, but I think there's something else there, too. I'm a positive force in the studio. I help out whenever I can. I teach, but I am also learning a lot and doing some cool things.

I can say I am 100% happier than I was a year ago. I can't chalk all of that up to the studio (insert sappy remark about my boyfriend here), but one of my life goals has always been to be happy in my work life. I'm not saying I'll be here forever, but right now, I am a happy, happy girl.

Who else will be in Cleveland Oct.11-13? I hope to see you there!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Some cool clips

It's kind of disheartening that I don't get time to do that many creative things with the papers I am working on. Something cool happened last week though. I got to design a real estate section for the Springfield News-Leader that was feature-heavy, Granted, I had to come in for overtime to do it, but it's still pretty cool. The managing editor actually told me to make it like a magazine. I don't think she knows how happy she made me. Anyway, so here are my favorite pages of the 12-page section.

This is the cover of the section. We dropped the rail and I got to do some awesome skyboxes for the rest of the section.

The hard part about some of the pages was the awkward ad stacks. I tried to make those packages as seamless as possible.

This one was my favorite from the section. The design is clean, but still classy. I only wish I had the whole page to work with. 

I was really proud of my pieces, and so was the Springfield editor. That's definitely a win. Hopefully I'll be able to wow them with the next section too!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

You can't miss: Interactive print ads

I got one of my favorite magazines in the mail on Saturday. Usually Entertainment Weekly comes on Fridays, but since I got my Kindle, I've been downloading the e-version earlier and earlier in the week. I found something in my hard copy of the magazine this week, though, that wouldn't have been the same on a Kindle screen. It was an ad for Mio, the new(ish) water flavor things. It was the first page I turned to because it was an obnoxiously thick paper in the middle of the thin pages of the magazine. It looked like this:

The words read "Drop this ad in water and watch your whole world change."

The small black letters are fairly striking, and they intrigued me. It says, "Drop this ad in water and watch your whole world change." So naturally, I did what it said. I had no idea what to expect, but it was awesome.

I filled a cookie sheet about half way with water.

The change was instant.

Pretty cool, right? It actually makes me want to try this Mio stuff. Well-played, advertisers. Well-played.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Tornadoes and doubletrucks

On Leap Day, Feb. 29, storms twisted through southwest Missouri. They hit north and south of Springfield, which is one of the papers I design at the studio. This area is no stranger to storms (i.e. the Joplin, Mo., tornado last May), but when one devastates a town, it's still a big deal.

In case you're not keeping track (and why would you?), Feb. 29 was also my first day back from my furlough. I was slotted to handle Springfield's A section that night. Welcome back, right? Thankfully, I had a lot of help from other staffers in the studio. It was actually a living reason why these studios are such a good idea: extra hands when needed and people with experience teaching those with less. I got a lot of help from a Des Moines Register designer who handled a lot of the Iowa flooding fronts back in 2008.

Springfield cleared off 1A and essentially six ad-free pages inside for their coverage, and they could have had at least one more for my tastes. One of the pages was very text-heavy, I would have liked to spread it out a bit. You don't need to see that one. But here's the front page and the doubletruck photo spread.

With the front, Springfield rightfully wanted as many entry points as possible. They had so much stuff inside, so they needed some refer space, which I placed on top of the photo so it would read well above the fold. I also crafted a QR code refer next to the flag to draw attention to all the web coverage above the fold. The photo placement took some conversation and coercing, too. Initially, there were three destruction photos on the cover, but no people. After I switched out the secondary photo, I was able to use the first-choice secondary really big for the doubletruck. It definitely got more play there than it would have on the front. I also played the gray bar and label headline you see on the second clip on all of the storm pages in the section.

Overall, I'd say it was a success. It wasn't until after I'd sent all the pages to press that I got up from my desk. That's a good nine hours of straight designing and coordinating and critiquing and tearing apart to build new pages. I'd say it paid off. Visual journalism blogger Charles Apple even mentioned my work on his blog. I'd say that's something, right?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Furlough week to do list

This week, I get the honor of an unpaid vacation! I am actually pretty excited about this, but I can see how it is a burden on others -- especially those who have to do my work when I'm gone. There's nothing we can do about it, though, except roll with the punches. So, what am I going to do on this week of unpaid leave? I'm glad you asked!

  • Apply for unemployment. Apparently I can get some money from the government while I sit on my ass for a week. Who knew? (And before I hear griping about taking government money -- I am just as entitled to it as everyone else who is unemployed. It's probably going to go straight back to the government in the form of student loan payments anyway. So there.)
  • Do my taxes. I usually put this off until the last possible day, but I should probably do it sooner. I hate taxes, and mine aren't even that difficult!
  • Figure out my health insurance/401(k) stuff for Gannett. I officially get health insurance on March 1 and I need to fill out some paperwork or something. I've also been delaying transferring my 401(k) accounts. I tend to put off what I don't understand. Being a grown up is hard!
  • (Now for the fun stuff.) Spend some quality time with my new Kindle Fire. It is a pretty new toy, and I intend on reading/facebooking/words with friending/angry birding like crazy.
  • FINISH my damn high school T-shirt quilt. I have been putting this one off for a good 6 years, and it needs to be done already! If I roll through that, I might start my college one, but I don't know if I'm ready to give up wearing some of my Marching Mizzou T-shirts.
  • Last but not least is visiting one of my best friends in Madison, Wisc. She just got engaged (and I'm maid of honor!!!!), so we are going to obsess over wedding plans, try on some dresses, go see one of her plays and watch the Oscars hopefully! I haven't been able to watch the Oscars for a few years, and I miss it so. 

Sounds like a pretty good week to me!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Building bridges, building a new life

I haven't posted any of my work lately, but I really haven't been proud of anything either. My time in Springfield didn't really produce anything stellar, but since I've come to Des Moines, I've gotten to open up a little bit. Having superiors who know a thing about design and have your back is a huge factor. I wouldn't have even attempted the page I am about to show you if I didn't have people helping me or supporting my design. I like Des Moines.

Anyway, here's my latest. It's a Sunday front page for the Springfield News-Leader. I got a good eight hours to work on it, and I think it shows. The story is about a community college that is starting to offer more remedial classes in reading, writing and math for students that need a little extra help. I thought of my college days and how much I highlighted things. I even highlighted things on the hard copy of the story before I started designing the page. I kind of inspired myself.

Right click and open in a new window/tab to see a larger version.

The challenge with the centerpiece was trying to figure out how to incorporate the lead photo with the rest of the package. Springfield doesn't do a lot of cutouts, and that is what I was worried about when submitting the design to the editors. With the background dropped from the photo, though, you could focus more on the student in the foreground and what he was writing, which could very well be the text hovering above his head. I only wish he were holding a highlighter (I could also do without the deck headline), but I can't win at everything.

The miraculous part is that the editors in Springfield loved my design. I was really worried, but my bosses at the studio had my back. And they didn't even need to back me up!

Monday, January 2, 2012

A look back at 2011

OK, so 2011 wasn't my best year. Parts of it really sucked, but parts of of were absolutely amazing. Basically it was a huge roller coaster of emotions, life-changing events and self discovery. Here's how it panned out:


  • One of my best friends got married. It was the first wedding I had ever been a part of and the best wedding I can imagine for two people who worked so hard to get there. 
  • Work at the Savannah Morning News took a turn for the worse with two copy deskers in the hospital and two more open positions that took forever to fill. I worked a lot of overtime at both the paper and my second job, which was a completely different entity.
  • On the plus side at work, Newseum picked up my first front page for its "Top 10" feature.
  • As the snowpocalypse was hitting the Midwest, I was designing another awesome front page that got chosen by Newseum.
  • I turned 23 and celebrated with a few willing coworkers.
  • I got preventative skin cancer surgery. It takes forever to heal. Read: still not 100%. 
  • Over the course of this month and the next, I became great friends with a girl who lived near me. We became each other's only true friends in Savannah, and I psuedo-got a puppy out of the deal.
  • The newspaper launched Morris' new content management system, Content Watch. It was horrible and at least six months from go-live ready. The desk worked very hard to work out the kinks, and succeeded on most accounts over the course of a few months.
  • Two of my best friends came to visit me in Savannah for their spring break. Things we did include but are not limited to: a haunted pub crawl, getting hailed on, Savannah things and a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It was a fantastic time.
  • I survived my first round of layoffs at the Savannah Morning News. It shook me, but the copydesk didn't lose anyone, just two empty positions. Work got harder, and it became more difficult to stay positive. I tried my hardest.
  • I visited an old high school friend and her daughter in Memphis during the Memphis in May concert series. I saw Jason Mraz live in concert, and my life was completed.
  • My college "Quartet" got together in Kansas City for a weekend. We had a lot of fun, and I ended up cutting off all of my hair into a style that not only makes me look grown up, but also one that I will be keeping for a while.
  • Work calmed down a bit, and I decided to stick it out for a while longer. 
  • I bought a new laptop for freelancing/entertainment purposes. 
  • I won a Georgia Press Association award for my work on the photo illustration cover of the 2010 election guide.
  • I moved from my apartment complex in west Savannah to a refurbished house/apartment in downtown Savannah.
  • I went to Ireland to visit a friend who was studying abroad. We did a driving tour of the island, and it was one of the best vacations I'd been on. 
  • I drove to North Carolina to see some more high school friends and hang out on the beach.
  • The last Harry Potter movie premired, and a huge part of my childhood ended.
  • My cat, Maia, got sick again. She is on drugs on an off for the next month an a half.
  • I survived my second round of layoffs at the paper, but a lot of other people didn't, including my immediate manager. I started looking for another job. 
  • Three rooms of my basement apartment flooded with sewer water. 
  • I said goodbye to Maia, as her health greatly deteriorated. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.
  • I redesigned my website for the Society of News Design conference in St. Louis. I was a networking queen.
  • I saw another good friend get married in Columbia, Mo.
  • I went back to Mizzou for the school's 100th Homecoming celebration. 
  • I interviewed for several jobs, and I took one at the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines. I turned in my resignation to the editor in Savannah (and my freelance job), as did three others in the matter of a week. 
  • My apartment flooded two more times. I used the fact that the management didn't fix it after the first time to get out of my lease.
  • Another good friend visited me in Savannah before I had to say goodbye to the beautiful city.
  • The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series, and I cheered them on every step of the way.
  • My best friend in Savannah has a baby shower, which makes it harder for me to leave her in Savannah.
  • I left my first job to start my second one (with a minor stint in Springfield, Mo., in between). I moved my stuff to Des Moines in an epic roadtrip of epicness, and I moved myself to Springfield. 
  • I took part in the age-old tradition of banging Big Mo at the Missouri vs. Texas football game.
  • I found a roommate in Springfield, who is also moving to Des Moines.
  • My new roommate and I find an amazing house to rent in Des Moines. 
  • My non-healing surgery doesn't heal even more. I go on antibiotics only to be allergic to them and end up in the emergency room with hives, etc.
  • I rang in the new year in Kansas City, which is much closer to me now, with my college friends.

So, 2012, let's make a deal. I will go on less trips and pay off some of my bills if you don't be as much of a bitch as 2011 was. Deal?

This Postsecret postcard ran today. I can't help but agree.