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Rendezvous at the Wawa

>> Friday, December 31, 2010

When working on custom books for specific events, I find it interesting to see which elements ultimately propel the design in a certain direction.

For this wedding guest book, Jessica started out open to suggestions. She worried that she wasn't being specific enough in her preferences. But it only took a couple of key decisions for us to solidify an idea: Jessica asked for eco-friendly materials and a specific color scheme.

I knew right away that Lokta paper would be a good choice to meet both goals. It is available in lots of bold colors, created with organic dyes, that allowed me to pick a bright yellow and a royal blue. Jessica had identified these colors as appropriate for her beach wedding, representing the sun and the sea.

Lokta paper, handmade in Nepal, is also sustainable. Instead of using trees, the paper is made from Daphne plant fibers and harvested in such a way to promote further growth of the plant. These standards go hand in hand with the paper's quality as a strong and acid-free material for bookbinding.

Jessica also knew she needed a quick turnaround so the book could be used for events leading up to the wedding, in addition to the big day. I've found myself encouraging other brides to follow Jessica's idea in using my wedding guest books to record messages from friends and family at engagement parties, bridal showers, and other wedding-related events.

To be married in October, Jessica ordered June 1. A week later, my husband was en route to Richmond with the book. Already scheduled to pick up a friend at the airport there, it was easy for him to deliver the book to Jessica at a corner Wawa convenient store near the airport. Although Jessica shopped in the global marketplace that is Etsy, she benefited by finding me, just an hour and a half to the west.


The Borders Within

>> Friday, December 17, 2010

This past Sunday, the newspaper where my husband and I work published a special report called The Borders Within. For my husband Tony and our good friend Chase Purdy it was the culmination of a year's worth of reporting about the growing Hispanic population in our town.

And for me, it marked the end of an incredibly busy week spent designing the six-page section. This is undoubtedly the project I am post proud of during my two years designing for The News Virginian. I'm also quite proud of the work that Tony and Chase completed with their reporting which makes this even more meaningful to me. I don't often share my graphic design work on this blog, but I wanted to make an exception for this particular project.

Click on any of the images for a closer look at the design, or view a pdf of the full section here.

One aspect of the design that came together even better than I'd expected was the map on page two. I created a map of our small town, and used it to plot different points of significance to Waynesboro's Hispanic community, like the a church offering weekly services in Spanish and a park where many people -- including former Mexican professional league players -- play fĂștbol. Local and regional statistics surround the map to complete the infographic.

Everything for this section was completed by Tony, Chase, and me. Reporting, writing, photography, design -- we did it all. So we all feel a real sense of ownership about this section. The photos that Tony and Chase took turned out so well, and they drive the design for the section. I was able to use a variety of large dominant photos and truly give a face to this community that is often overlooked.

We were also all excited to see that our section had been featured on Charles Apple's The Visual Side of Journalism blog. Charles had many complimentary things to say about The Borders Within, and specifically appreciated the visual appeal of the infographics, and the design of the section overall. Reading his post truly made my day, and was ceretianly a highlight after such a hectic week (and weekend) preparing for the section's publication.

And here's a bit more about the section, in Tony's words:

At its most basic, the idea behind the reporting in this section is not new. Like many reporters, we chose to explore an unfamiliar immigrant community and one that struggles with a language barrier.

But we thought we could deliver something meaningful to readers by bringing our curiosity to Waynesboro’s Hispanic community in particular — a community nestled into a small town and one that still remembers the first who came from Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala, and elsewhere. They remember because those pioneers arrived not so long ago.

Because of the short time these families have lived here, we find them on the cusp of transition. As that population meets more frequently with the broader community, those unfamiliar words and nameless faces become harder to ignore, or to refuse to understand. Their needs have grown. Their successes are mounting.

We chose to approach in Spanish whenever possible, no matter how much we’d stumble. We focused on people, not politics, and the ordinary as often as the extreme.

This project first arose in fall 2009, but it might not have started without an unsolicited call and a soft threat. The caller told us to feature Kim Romero’s struggle to bring her husband Rigo back from Mexico, where he’d become mired in immigration bureaucracy. If we wouldn’t write the story, some other reporter would, the caller said.

The Romeros’ story turned from one chapter to the next just after midnight Sept. 10, when Rigo came legally into Kim’s arms at Dulles International Airport. We were there. Rigo has since gained residency through 2020.

Their story isn’t over. Nor is our work.

Tony and Chase had already won the International Perspectives award from the Associated Press Managing Editors contest for their coverage of the Romeros earlier this year, and I think that is just the beginning for the recognition they will receive for their work. Read all of the articles in The Borders Within series here.


Elegant album for wedding memories

>> Thursday, December 16, 2010

I'm taking a break amid the holiday rush to share a few more custom orders I completed this fall. This photo album was given as a wedding gift by Emma, one of my best customers. (She also ordered this photo album for her cousin, and this journal for a friend.)

Emma is often hands-on with the initial design process for her orders, which I enjoy because it's fun for me to see someone who is as excited about books as I am. She scoured the Paper Mojo website to find this red and gold Japanese paper for the cover. From there, I selected the cream bookcloth for the spine and the gold accents for the endsheets, giving the book an extra-special gleam. And once I had determined that the book needed to be bound with gold thread to complete the elegant look, I couldn't let the idea go until I had found the perfect option.

Emma was very pleased with the way this album turned out, and told me that the couple loved it as well. She even had them open the gift at the end of their wedding reception so they could see it right away. I hope Kathlyn and Leland enjoy filling this book with photos and memories of their married life together.


Ten years and counting

>> Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tony and I celebrated our ten-year anniversary on Saturday. We met during our freshman year of high school, back when we were just 14. He sat behind me in English class, and thanks to our assigned seats we like to say we met because of alphabetical order. The official start to our relationship came a few days after Thanksgiving, when he called to ask me a question about isosceles trapezoids (we also had geometry class together), followed by a request to join him for a movie. We went to see Bounce (it's terrible); my parents drove us to the theater because, hey, we were 14 and couldn't yet drive.

After high school, we both headed off to separate colleges; I moved to Georgia, and Tony went to school in Michigan. A four-year long-distance relationship ensued, during which we visited each other during school breaks, exchanged thousands of e-mails, and racked up our phone bills.

Tony proposed in 2008, at dusk in an exotic greenhouse in rural Michigan while I was visiting him during my spring break. I, of course, said yes. We were married the following summer in an Art Deco movie theater in Charleston, SC.

Life with Tony keeps getting better with each passing day. I look forward to all the milestones ahead of us, while cherishing all of the experiences we've shared as we've become the people we are today. Here's to many more happy years together. Happy anniversary, Tony!


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