10
Dec 14

Embrace the visual format

Editorial from SNDS Magazine no. 4, 2014

We believe there is nothing social about online social networks, so get out from behind your screen and get to a live event, with real people, real communication, real beer, and real creative fun.”
– www.pechakucha.org

Visuals can be many things. In the previous issue of SNDS Magazine, we looked at illustration. In this issue we show you a glimpse of a live event – the SNDS Fu2i0n14 conference held in Copenhagen in October – and tell it almost only in pictures. Our photos may not say more than a thousand words, but hopefully they will convey the atmosphere and quality of the conference and encourage you to register next year.

SNDSmag_4_2014_coverA visual innovation at Fu2i0n14 was the introduction of the PechaKucha – a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. Images advance automatically and you talk along to the images.*

Nine speakers tried their best at this very strict presentation format – Stig Ørskov, CEO of JP/Politikens Hus, Denmark, held his presentation precisely within the required timeframe of 6 minutes, 40 seconds (20 slides × 20 seconds), and Liv-Jorunn Håker from the Norwegian newspaper Sunn­mørsposten also managed to deliver a well-structured PechaKucha entitled “Get over it!” about struggling with web code. Accepting the rules of the format clearly showed what magic a great Pecha­Kucha can produce.

Now, this may be a rather formalistic observation, but in principle, no design format should be neglected – be it in a presentation, in a printed magazine or in apps as well as other digital products. Users and readers of our publications are very aware – consciously or unconsciously – that any given format has its rules and conventions. Try uploading a 20 MB jpg to your news website and watch the bounce rate of your visitors grow sky-high, or set body copy in your newspaper at an illegible five point size – it just doesn’t work.

Of course you can pretend that there are no rules – but then the rule is (!) that you have to be extremely good at inventing new stuff. And that’s a lot harder than communicating within the grid at hand.

In the magazine
Will PechaKucha be part of the new initiative SNDS Meet-up, launched in this issue (page 16)? It’s actually up to you: SNDS Meet-ups are local self-organized events, where news designers in the Scandinavian countries can socialize, exchange ideas, learn and engage in their local design-community.

Kim Bjørn came up with this great idea, and we hope you will support the project and start organizing. More info to follow on snds.org.

One of the winners in this year’s Best of Scandinavia News Design competition was the Finnish illustrator and graphic designer Anniina Louhivuori. The only winner in the new Portfolio category in the print part of the contest, we were so impressed that we wanted to see more. We’re proud to show all six entries from her award winning port­folio plus another seven examples of her great visualizing skills published in Sunnuntaisuomalainen.

In next year’s competition, there will be a few changes to the categories – which ones will be announced online and in a booklet in the beginning of January. The deadline for submitting your work is set to January 30, 2015.

Come together, right now
Our mother organization SND is running a membership drive campaign right now – asking members what their membership has meant to their life and career. We quote a few of the answers on page 14 – and the reasons for joining or renewing with SND are just as valid as reasons for joining or renewing your SNDS membership. If you want to have the best of both worlds (and who doesn’t?) you even get a discount if you sign up for a double membership at snds.org/member – see you in the club!

New board member
Speaking of members – we have a new member on the SNDS board, elected at the general assembly in Copenhagen in October. Elisabeth Svendby is Head of the design and user experience team at Amedia Utvikling, Norway, and former chief designer of Dagbladet.no. She has been a member of the digital jury of SNDS Best of Scandinavian News Design competition for several years. She is trained in graphic and web design and programming, from Østfold University College and Universität Bremen, Germany. Elisabeth Svendby replaces Lill Mostad. Welcome on board!

Finally, have a great Christmas
and a Happy New Year.

Lisbeth Tolstrup
& Lars Pryds
Editors, SNDS Magazine

* PechaKucha was devised by architects Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network and show their work in public. Sources: www.pechakucha.org, klein-dytham.com/pechakucha

 


26
Sep 14

The aesthetic value of boredom – SNDS Magazine 3, 2014

I like living, breathing better than working … my art is that of living. Each second, each breath is a work which is inscribed nowhere, which is neither visual nor cerebral, it’s a sort of constant euphoria.
– Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968)

When the French artist Marcel Duchamp exhibited a mass-produced urinal in 1917, he shocked the art world and changed the way we look at art forever. “Readymades” – ordinary manufactured objects selected and modified by the artist – were here to stay: Simply by selecting, repositioning or joining, titling and signing it, the object became art.

Sometimes it seems like news media are following the same procedure:

The morning radio news stations read aloud from the front pages of the newspapers of the day, making the stories their own. Printed media copy-and-paste from websites and social media, reusing content made by others, with minimal changes, if any at all.

Repositioning, titling and (perhaps) signing it – a “readymade” news story is created. Fortunately, there’s a lot of original, self-produced material in most media as well, but when you hear the exact words on the radio that you have just read in the morning paper, it can be considered a waste of time.

But, of course – one always has the choice of turning off the news channels or putting the newspaper aside and succomb to the state of silence – or, as Duchamp put it – the art of living. This may even include periods of doing absolutely nothing, but this is not necessarily a bad thing – if you are able to appreciate the “aesthetic value of boredom”, which Duchamp also recognized, it may give you new inspiration and strength to get back to work.

This issue’s theme: Illustration
Modifying prefabricated material or readymade imagery is a technique used to great effect by both artists and illustrators, as this issue’s main theme shows. We have gathered a selection of works by illustrators from the Nordic countries and asked them a few questions about their work and the importance of illustration today.

It’s really encouraging to see how collage, drawing, and the carefully created visual storytelling is alive and kicking – in spite of cuts in budgets and in staff within probably all news organisations. The illustrators also have firm opinions about the role visuals can play in the broader picture – as Thomas Thorhauge says on page 23: “We need tools to express content fast and precise, transcending barriers of language, level of education and culture”.

SNDSmag_3_2014_cover72And visuals – or illustration – is the answer to that challenge. We gave a little extra space to Javier Muñoz, a freelance illustrator based in Bilbao, Spain, to show some of his great work for clients like The Guardian, Le Monde, and CNN. Though not afraid to use known imagery – such as the seminal Mona Lisa painting on which our wonderful cover illustration is based – he is not seaking the easy solution for his stories. When asked which of his illustrations he considers to be the best, he is not sure any qualifies – “the best one is yet to come”, as he says.

The third part of the illustration theme is an article by Ole Munk, who takes us behind the scenes of two different, yet similar situations in the process of creating the perfect combination of text and illustration.

Finally, we look at a new book about Swedish illustration – a heavy (literally and figuratively) publication which is a joy to read and experience if you want to know more about Sweden’s visual history in the 20th century.

The Fusion is near
The first part of this magazine, however, is filled with updates to the speaker list for the upcoming Fu2i0n14 conference, which will rock the city of Copenhagen on October 9th and 10th. Great speakers are coming, masterclasses will be held, and the winners of Gold and Silver Awards will be announced at the big Gala Dinner & Award Show. There’s even a big surprise for the winners of the Best Designed Awards this year – but you’ll have to show up in Copenhagen to see it yourself when it is shown to the world for the first time.

So see you in Copenhagen! You are guaranteed not to experience the aeshetic of boredom there, but your state of mind may rise to a sort of euphoria – if not a constant one as in Duchamp’s breathing, then at least a momentary one to bring home as inspiration.

Lisbeth Tolstrup & Lars Pryds  
Editors, SNDS Magazine

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02
Jul 14

Can a font save the planet?

From SNDS Magazine no. 2, 2014

R Eco poster_chosen V4

“The last printing revolution changed our world. This one could help save it.”

Ambitions are high for British stationary brand Ryman and ad agency Grey London, who recently released a new font, Ryman Eco.

Ryman claims that its new font, which is available for free download, uses a third less ink and toner than standard fonts such as Arial, Times New Roman, and Verdana. The company believes that if everyone used the new font, it would save over 490 million ink cartridges and could help lower CO2 emissions by over 6.5 million tons.

The font was designed using thin lines rather than solid shapes, which reduces the amount of printer toner used to form a letter on the printed document. Ryman Eco was designed to be suitable for use in any context, at any size, and this is perhaps the biggest challenge to its success. The idea is that in small sizes, you may not even notice the white lines in the characters, but in larger sizes its decorative appearance may mean some organisations may not want to use it in their publications. Furthermore, companies or organisations with a distinct design policy are not likely to use this font anywhere at all as part of their typographic setup.

Ryman Eco is not the first example of a sustainable font. In 2008, Dutch company SPRANQ released its Eco Font type family, which uses holes in letters to reduce ink waste. But “Ryman Eco is both more efficient […] and more aesthetically pleasing than its rivals,” says the font’s designer Dan Rhatigan and Grey ECD Nils Leonard, in an interview with Creative Review.
However, being aesthetically pleasing – or, as Ryman boasts, “The world’s most beautiful sustainable font” – does not make it suitable for everything. As some commentators note, perhaps Ryman Eco is just an advertising gimmick in order to sell more printer toner – a main product at Ryman’s. 

Download Ryman Eco for free at rymaneco.co.uk

ecofont

Taking the idea of saving toner one step further, the company behind Ecofont Vera Sans has developed software that will put holes in commonly used typefaces such as Verdana and Arial on your computer.

Download Ecofont Vera Sans for free at ecofont.com


25
Jun 14

Time – creativity’s best friend

Editors’ column in SNDS Magazine no. 2, 2014

“Time – he’s waiting in the wings
He speaks of senseless things
His script is you and me, boy …”

– David Bowie (Aladdin Sane, 1973)

In this place we have previously quoted some of the great masters of the advertising business. Sir John Hegarty* is one such master and shares his words of wisdom in a small book, Hegarty on Creativity – There Are No Rules, just published by Thames & Hudson.

In fifty witty chapters he writes about creativity – how to inspire it, how to sustain and perfect it, and how to make a living from it. Creativity is not an occupation, he says, it’s a pre­occupation. So his views touch far beyond the advertising world – and they are certainly relevant for the news business.

“Time may be one of creativity’s best friends, yet no one will give you any. You have to earn it”, Hegarty says.

SNDSmag2-2014-cover-96dpi

Cover image by Lucy McRae and Johan Renck

We live in a world today where tomorrow is too late – and the tight deadlines force you to make snap judgments and rapid decisions which often lead to poor work.

“The ability to stand back from your thinking and give it what we call ‘the overnight test’ is essential. […] To gauge if your idea will stand up to scrutiny necessitates reflection. Thanks to digital technology everything in this world has sped up drastically but that only makes it all that much more important to slow it down. Our brains still operate in an analog world.”

Hegarty has a point here. Although some of us actually work best under some kind of pressure (be it from deadlines, well-meaning bosses or the need to earn money to pay the rent) it’s important to include time enough to let your idea grow.

In SNDS Magazine no. 2, 2012 the Swedish photographer Tor Johnsson said that his most important tool is time – “time to wait for the right picture, the right atmosphere to give justice to the motive”.

Time is also an important aspect of the many new longread formats that more and more news sites are launching next to their quick news feeds. Research show that people are actually prepared to spend a large amount of time on in-depth stories online – but these take time to produce.

Do you get the time you need to make your projects develop to their full potential? Or, if you’re a manager – do you allow your staff enough time to get the work done properly? If your answer is yes! then I will worry no more, and speak no more of senseless things.

Kill the routine
Another way to keep your creativity alive is not to get stuck in the routines of your workday. It happens to all of us – coming into the office at the same time each morning, drinking your usual cups of coffee etc.

“If each day is business as usual how can you possibly create something un­usual?” Hegarty asks, and he’s got another point there.

His first easy step to break the monotony is to simply switch desks with a colleague (if you work in a newsroom with free seating, this is really easy – just pick a new seat each morning). Just by moving across the room, you’re already looking at things from a different perspective.

If you really want to change habits, move to another city – or to another continent. This may, of course, involve some practicalities, but relocating even for a month or two can be really stimulating – having just spent the month of May in Iceland is our personal proof of that.

In the mag
The Fu2i0n14 conference is only four months away, and the program is shaping up. You can meet the first of a long list of great speakers on the next pages and more will be added to the line-up on the conference website at www.fusion.snds.org .

The spectacular cover photo for this issue of SNDS Magazine was created by one of the Fu2ion14 speakers, artist Lucy McRae with photographer Johan Renck. McRae built a coat hanger construction in seven layers with what she calls a ‘paper pixel representation’ of the pop icon Robyn for her Body Talk album. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to run this extraordinary photo on our cover and look forward to see more of McRae’s work on Fu2i0n14 in Copenhagen.

Photography is the subject for “That Scandinavian something” about the Norwegian photo festival DOK; we get an amazing look into the large pop-up book collection of Professor Michael Stoll, Augsburg University of Applied Sciences; we look behind the scenes of a Swedish experiment with print formats; Ole Munk reviews a new printed newspaper for kids; and k.dk was given a new design and a gold medal, all within the same month.

Enjoy it all, have a great summer – and don’t forget: If you have ideas for stories we should print in the magazine, give us a hint.

Lisbeth Tolstrup & Lars Pryds
Editors, SNDS Magazine

* Sir John Hegarty is founding Creative Partner of Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH), one of the world’s most awarded advertising agencies.

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21
Mar 14

SNDS Magazine no. 1, 2014

SNDSmag1-2014_coverLOREZ“It’s a very interactive piece on a flat medium, not a newspaper trying to be something else…
– SND35 Long-form judges*

Continue reading →


11
Mar 14

Too strong for Facebook and Issuu

snds-magazine-fjernet-fra-facebook

The Society for News Design Scandinavia’s Facebook page has, among other great stuff, a photo album showing all the covers of the organisation’s quarterly publication, SNDS Magazine. We are pretty proud of this long series of covers – witness of the variety of subjects covered on the inside pages. Print and digital news design, the conferences, the competitions, great photography, and art.

Continue reading →