Incentives package

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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 – 12/25

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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

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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

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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.

Graphics and Photoshop for legislative special issue

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The Business Observer recently put out a special legislative issue that would feature an infographic breakdown of who was contributing to whom in the race for Florida governor. Our editor-in-chief was so excited about the story, he decided it should run on the cover (not our original plan). Since the main art for this story was an infographic, that meant we had to come up with something new for the cover. Our executive editor, Kat, threw out that we turn the candidates, Rick Scott and Charlie Crist, into Rockem’ Sockem’ Robots. I didn’t really think she was serious, but I was curious as to whether or not I could actually create such an image. Of all the Adobe software I use, I always considered Photoshop to be my weak point. I could tone a photo for print and create a cutout, but that was about the extent of my ability. So I tried it out, set it on her desk. Minutes later, when she returned to her office, I heard her just crack up. When the design made the rounds through the newsroom and continued to generate roars, I thought, hey, maybe I’m better at Photoshop than I thought! Here’s the cover:

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While we changed things up on the cover, we continued with the original plan for the inside of the paper – a large infographic breaking down financial contributions to Charlie Crist and Rick Scott’s campaigns for Florida governor on the double truck. Here’s how that turned out in print:

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Read the story online at BusinessObserverFL.com, Funds for the Fight.

 

2013: A reflection

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Today is the last day of 2013, so, like most people, I’m taking a moment to look back at the year and all that has happened… in my life, the lives of my friends and family, and beyond. This is my professional blog space, so that’s the part of 2013 that I’m going to look at here – what I’ve learned in my professional life. According to BuzzFeed, 23 (the age I was for the vast majority of this year) is supposed to be the worst year of your 20s. I wouldn’t say it was a bad year, but it definitely wasn’t easy. Looking back though, I think I’ve come a long way as a designer. I’ve tried new things, learned a lot and even found my way to an old passion.

So here are my five favorite professional learning experiences from 2013:

1. Redesigning.

The Business Observer launched a total rebranding effort in January 2013. Know as the Gulf Coast Business Review for the past 16 years, we changed our name to the Business Observer, launched a new website and redesigned our print product. While the initial redesign was done by an outside entity, hired before I came on staff, I got to take what they came up with and implement it into our weekly product. I had a lot of fun creating new features, graphics and the many special sections we run within our new, beautiful framework. Here’s a look at what we did for our first redesigned issue:

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I also redesigned some features for my other publication, Diversions. I did an initial redesign when I first started at the Observer in June 2012. I’m very proud of that work, but as this was my first effort in redesigning, it wasn’t perfect. I made some changes in the fall of 2013, definitely for the better.

Finally, I redesigned the Business Observer’s biggest, most time-consuming publication, the Gulf Coast 500.

2. Infographics.

One attractive selling point on my resume to the Observer was my ability to create information graphics. Infographics became my main focus in school after I took my first class in it junior year. Most of my work at the Observer has conisted of small things, like charts and maps. But in 2013, I created some longer-form graphics that I’m really proud of, and hope to create more of in 2014. I also created the Observer’s very first interactive graphic.

3. Illustration.

Though graphics were something I was excited to bring to the Observer’s table, I always made it very clear that I was NOT an illustrator. I did not have a lot of confidence in my drawing abilities, and whenever I got a request to do something more on the artistic side, I shied away. Until November 2013. Granted, I was leaning on the crutch of the illustrations’ aim to be “sketchbook-esque” – in the style of The Oatmeal or xkcd. They were for a feature on local inventions, showing how they work. We called it the “Inventors’ Sketchbook.” I think it turned out pretty good, and I got good feedback from my peers. Here’s one of the illustrations I did showing how BriefSkate, an invention out of Tampa, works:

Inspired by my recent success, I took on some illustrations for a Thanksgiving feature – “The procrastinator’s and accident-prone’s guide to Thanksgiving.” These were a lot of fun.

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4. 40 Under 40.

We decided in 2012 to do a major overhaul of the Business Observer’s annual 40 Under 40 issue. An issue about the younger crowd making it in Florida deserved a fresh look. Our web editor, Amanda, and I devised the concept with the focus primarily on the website. We launched a separate WordPress site for the 40 Under 40 project, complete with custom graphics, studio-shot photos, a spotify playlist and videos for nearly all 40 subjects, and then some. We garnered thousands of page visits in the first day, outperforming our wildest expectations. I created a fresh look for the print edition, inspired by Amanda and my design for the web, but what I am most proud of is the website, and the fact that I was able to break out of my print bubble and help design and construct the site. Here’s the custom header I created for our website:

5. Writing again.

The Observer acquired ThisWeekInSarasota.com this year, a website geared to Sarasota’s youth, an underserved demographic in the area’s media scene. The timing was great for me, because I had just started blogging about my adventures as a young person in Sarasota on my new blog, Adventure Thursday. I got into journalism because I loved to write. That’s why I started Adventure Thursday. I just missed writing, and I wanted to write, whether people read it or not. But when the Observer acquired TWIS, I saw it as an opportunity to maybe get my writing to a larger audience. So I pitched a few of my stories, and voila! I’m a published writer again! I even got the opportunity to pick up some stories, one of which required me to go to a press dinner at a fancy new European restaurant… oh darn… 🙂

Antoine's review on TWIS

So here’s to 2013, and all that we’ve learned! And bring on 2014.