Favorite designs – week of 7/16


Sarasota Observer, page 3A

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Read this story online here: City works to steer residents to other modes of transportation

Arts+Culture, pages 1-3

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Read this story online here: Sarasota Architectural Foundation advocates for Sarasota’s modern buildings

Business Observer, pages 10-11

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Read the story online here: Vinik’s Vision

Business Observer, pages 12-13

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Read the story online here: ‘City within a City’


The redesign


Now that season is over, I’m finally getting around to writing about this …

On February 5, the Observer launched a full redesign of all its Sarasota-area print publications. Our new look was created by the brilliant and fabulous Pegie Stark. She drew inspiration from the artist Mondrian to create a grid-based design filled with color and impact, yet still flowing and feeling lighter (thank you, white space). The new fronts add more entry points than we had before. Each element acts as “moveable furniture,” changing position from week to week and keeping us out of our past stale routine. Pegie also emphasized Mario Garcia’s W.E.D. philosophy (writing, editing, design) as she worked with us to create the design. We’re incorporating different elements into each page, keeping the stories and look interesting and varied.

That’s my short version. Here’s our editor/CEO’s long version.

It’s been a lot of fun to work with this new design. Working on an expanded grid with a broader color palette and white space has challenged me to be creative in new ways. My duties are still the same – designing the Arts+Culture and Black Tie sections, creating graphics (I got to create all-new styles!) and assisting on special features and designs for the city papers (often our page threes).

And now for some before and afters …

Front page, Longboat Observer:


Page three, East County Observer:



Neighborhood cover, Sarasota Observer:



Cover, Arts+Culture (formerly Diversions):


Cover jump, Arts+Culture:



Cover, Black Tie:


Picture page, Black Tie (my favorite transformation):

BlackTiePicPageAnd last, a new addition that I design for the Sarasota Observer. Our page two is now “What’s Happening” – a collection of briefs in a variety of styles that change from week to week.



Incentives package


In the January 23 issue of the Business Observer, we ran a feature that had been in the works since about October. It was a beast. Our deputy managing editor (now managing editor), Mark Gordon, investigated how effective government incentives actually are in all eight of our coverage area’s counties. Such a unique package deserved an equally unique design treatment. The biggest challenge with this story was its sheer mass. I used more white space and our sharp, crisp condensed type to lighten it up. Another challenge was a massive chart jam packed with information that was all relevant and essential to the story. I ran this across the bottom of the first two pages of the story. Combining rows where I could actually ended up making the chart easier to understand.

Read the whole thing at BusinessObserverFL.com here.

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Design Favorites – 1/8


The Business Observer published one of my favorite annual special issues this week – Executive Diversions. We take a look at what Gulf Coast execs do when they’re not in the office. We get a lot of runners and bikers, but this issue our cover feature was a man who goes cave diving in his spare time.

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Read more about our cave diver here.

In our Black Tie section, we ran a column on a local wedding show. It had lots of different elements, so putting it together in a cohesive, easy-to-follow way was a challenge. An important element that I think brought this page together was the creation of a dominant element.

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Read the full article here.

My last favorite from this week was a story featuring 3D maps. I’ve been toying around with this in Illustrator. This is one of my first. They’ve been improving. In this case, we were showing the different types of establishments that exist on Main Street. I think this method works as a dynamic, interesting way to highlight specific buildings.

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Read the story here.

Design favorites – 12/25


This week, we featured the recently-released results of the American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau in the Longboat Observer. The survey revealed demographic details of the Longboat Key community. This design was a collaborative effort between me and my fellow designer, Nancy Schwartz. She created the design and I contributed the graphics. We incorporated a variety of elements to keep the page flowing and visually interesting. This is definitely my favorite page of the week!

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Read the story online here.

Design favorites – 12/18


The Business Observer published a special section on the philanthropic efforts of businesspeople in our coverage area. I saw it as something nice and positive to publish around the holidays. As with all of our special sections, I created a unique style within our framework that reflected the feel of the content. I used our shade of blue, the ultra light versions of our fonts and loose kerning on our sans serif to create a nice, peaceful feeling.

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Read our story on Premier Eye Care CEO Lorna Taylor (with the awesome photo) here.

The Diversions cover from this week featured a selection of local, edible gifts. Since all of the gifts were of equal importance in the story, we didn’t want to feature just one on the cover. Drawing inspiration from a design the reporter found on Pinterest, I put four of the gifts in ornaments, thus featuring multiple gifts and reflecting the holiday spirit.

SDVa121814 001Read the story and discover where to find the delicious treats we featured here.


Design favorites – 12/11


Again, our A&E section’s “home of the month” feature presented me with a unique challenge by straying from the usual. The focus of December’s feature was more on the past inhabitants of the home, rather than the home itself. It had belonged to a famous local author, John D. MacDonald, in the 1950s and 60s. Now, the old beachfront cottage is on the market and likely to be torn down and rebuilt into a colossal castle, akin to its neighbors. So, how do you design a story when its focus isn’t on the building in the photos, but what that building represents? I relied heavily on the content, and got to get a little artsy. The headline here really pulled everything together. It was “The Deep Blue Goodbye,” which not only represented exactly what the story was about, but was also the title of one of MacDonald’s books. And we had this gorgeous photo taken from the home’s porch, with two empty chairs looking out onto the bright blue waters of Sarasota Bay. I used my slimmest type with a white glow effect to give a kind of lonely, fading look.

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I created a similar look on the jump page over an aerial photo of the home.

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Another focus of the story was a small spiral staircase which led to MacDonald’s old writing room. I organized the secondary photos on page 11 in a staggered manner to mimic the steps and draw attention to that important element.SDV 121114 011

Read the story here.

The feel of this next story in that same issue goes in a completely different direction: big, bold, colorful and loud. A local artist, Jorge Blanco, had just sold his first sculpture at Christie’s in New York. His art is well known in Sarasota for being somewhat cartoon-like and consisting of bold, primary colors. Since our readers already know well what Blanco’s art looks like, we chose to run a world map of locations where Blanco’s art is on display. I created the map in bold primary colors to reference his art.

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Read the story here.

Design favorites – 12/04


This week’s issue of the Business Observer had a special theme – top salespeople. Whenever we run these special issues, I create a unique logo or style to signify that the issue is different from our typical week-to-week coverage. My goal is for the style to be content-driven, without being cheesy. For last year’s top salespeople issue, I incorporated a very simple handshake illustration. A little gimmicky, I only used that on the intro page this year, instead focusing on type. I emphasized the word “top” in a heavier, black type, since that’s the important part of the phrase – these are the top people, the best. The word salespeople was more subtle and in green, to evoke the idea of money. I reformed this logo throughout the paper to make the section cohesive.

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Read that last story on selling Girl Scout cookies here.

For our A&E cover story, the main art had an ugly background. The subjects were in the backstage area of a theater. Not much you can do to make that pretty. However, they were standing by a Christmas tree, which was relevant to the story. So I drew the focus to the subjects and the tree by cutting them out and removing the background.

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Read the story here.

Design favorites – 11/27


Each month, we run a “home of the month” feature in our A&E section, Diversions. Being in Sarasota, the homes are typically glamorous beachfront mansions with a killer view. November’s home, however, was on the less-opulent side. Of course the home was still an over-the-top castle, but its exterior color and style weren’t as eye-catching, and the dreary weather on the day of the photo shoot didn’t help the situation. So, how do we turn this relatively drab house into a striking cover? The house did have one remarkable feature I kept coming back to – a bright purple gate. The story’s headline, “Great Beginnings,” seemed to fit well with this photo, as the entryway is where the house begins. I played off the door’s color with purple accents on the page.


Read the full story here.

This week in the Business Observer, we ran a story showing how area malls were attempting to compete with the recently opened mega mall – The Mall at University Town Center. It broke from our typical feature format, being comprised of three vignettes and a comparative infographic sidebar. So I created a new format within our stylistic framework.

BOBa112714 012 BOBa112714 013Read the story here.