Portfolio page

My first portfolio page is here! Do you like my header?

Many thanks to illustrator Thomas James, who created a tutorial of how to do this using WordPress.

Inspiration V: Everything is a Remix

I found this logo when searching for campaign-related photos. I like the color set so much that I decide to make a banner of the same topic, as is shown below.

It could be used as a proof that everything is a remix. I love the video series a lot.

Every time I found inspiration from the Web, I feel really happy. Sometimes I try to mimic the style, sometimes it is so high-level that I can only look upon to the piece of work.

Right now I’m not creative enough and am looking for inspiration everywhere.

Hopefully one day I can become a source of others’ inspiration.

Font lover

Font lover

I almost forgot how charming a font can be.

There it is. This website brings me back to the fun experience of designing you own font.

One busy night at print desk

This Monday’s print desk taught me the importance of short words.

We had a busy night. For the first time, I wrote two sheets of copy desk log.

When at the copy desk, I edited an AP story about punishment following “excessive” graduation cheers. Soon the story came to the print desk and left me with extremely limited space. I tried many headlines, such as “Punished for graduation cheers.” But no one would fit the print with so little space. I realized it was because the length of the words. After thinking twice, third, fourth… finally I came up with “To cheer, or not to cheer” —— A loud mom was arrested at graduation. 

Another challenge came with the story about former Olympian teaching an equestrian clinic at Fox Run. Again, the headline space is little. The former Olympian’s name is Greg Best. So I tried to play wording with his family name. I tried “Coach ‘Best’,” and “‘Best’ coach,” but felt awkward about it. Also, it looked weird on the whole page. Struggling for a while, I decided to use “Taught by ‘Best’.” I’m still not satisfied with it though.

Print…print desk

The second week as a copy editor featured with anxiety.

Monday was my first truly night shift, which means I work till close.

I edited three stories and uploaded photos to the site. One of the stories was about Son Riders Motorcycle Church, a nontraditional church for bikers. Photos were about a Hallsville girl who kept practicing double Dutch rope jumping for two years.

Then I moved to the print desk. My adventure began.

After James taught me some basic operating, I looked at the Dear Abby column first. I need to give it a headline based on the first Q&A and also cut some sentences to make it fit with the print. The first question was from a mother who was concerned about her son’s relationship. The mother went so well with her son’s girlfriend that she couldn’t accept their breaking-up. She said she was hurt. The girl cheated on the boy and said goodbye to him the next day. Abby’s answer was clear: the mother should keep going and feel lucky that they broke up before the girl became her daughter-in-law and even mum of grandson.

After I read this letter, I wowed at all the details and emotions disclosed in it. Letters to Abby really talk about EVERYTHING. Then I don’t know what to do with the headline. My first thought was “Calm down, she’s not meant to be,” but it doesn’t tell much detail and might mislead readers. The second thought was “calm down with daughter-in-law not-meant-to-be.” But James told me you cannot call her daughter-in-law since the boy and girl broke up. Well, the headline ended up as “Mother should stay out of son’s relationship.” I didn’t feel good about it but decided to go on.

The second Dear Abby column was challenging because I had to cut too many lines. There were 34 overprint lines sitting there. Ohhh…

In the end, I found it was impossible to fit the print if I just cut some phrases. So I cut some sentences that wouldn’t influence the completeness of the question and answer. Finally I made it. Whew…

My last article at print desk was about the Hallsville girl. Page designers need a headline that crosses 3 columns and also a “deck.” I read the story again and again. I felt nervous since I was deciding what our readers will face on tomorrow’s paper. I came up with “Hallsville girl sticks with double dutch practice for two years.” It was done, but I felt really bad. I was not confident about it at all.

Maybe it was because of the Day-One panic. Maybe it was because I didn’t know what a “deck” is before that night. Or, it was the first time I’ve truly “tasted” the anxiety of being a copy editor.

Later it occurred to me that I should check the online post of that article first, which might be helpful.

First week as a copy editor

It is meant to be.

Anyway, I took News Editing class this summer in the end.

Since I had no idea this summer turned out like that, I was extremely nervous on my first shift as a copy editor in the newsroom.

I was mainly responsible for the web posts. As a copy editor, you check everything. The first story, which was about Missouri objecting the ruling of the 1990 farm death, took me an hour to edit. Because of my poor knowledge of the case and law, it took me like forever to truly understand it. My professor was nice, but I felt great pressure when she was sitting beside me on Day One. I kept asking myself: how can you edit others’ story when you’re NOT even a native speaker?! I may score higher than many American students in English grammar, but how about the background, the expression, and the culture? I would have been trembling if no one would pay attention.

I felt I was super slow and disturbed copy desk’s pace that night. I felt I had to remember every entry in the AP Stylebook to edit faster. I doubted how I can edit other’s story when I was so unconfident about my English.

The next two stories were both about sports. Usually, when I get a copy of the Missourian, the first thing I do is to throw away the sports section. You can tell I’m not interested in it at all. But after editing the two articles, I found there could be something fun in the sports world. Also, I finally knew why our paper can have a separate section every day – because we put many wire stories to sports.

At 8:30 p.m., my shift ended. I came home with worries and pressure. Oh, I forgot to mention that this summer course only had seven students, most of them ACEs (Assistant City Editors) for the paper. I’m not among the majority.

Well, Day One is not just day one whatsoever.

My second shift fell on Friday night.

After I went to the newsroom, I found news editors were not at the desk. What a relief!

I loved the first story about Venus transiting across the sun next Tuesday. I said in my heart that I will go to see it. I changed a little wording in this article, was that sign of growing confidence? :P

Then I practiced uploading and editing photos on the site. Although I had a hard time giving each photo a headline, my TA Caitlin was too nice to say my headline was a disaster. Well, next time I will do a better job, I promise.

Since the RIM SLOW was empty for quite a while, Caitlin had us proof the cartoons on tomorrow’s paper. I will never notice the tiny date on each cartoon if I haven’t taken this class. It is a pleasant and cute surprise, reminding me copy editing can be fun too.

I felt better on tonight’s shift. Although I still knew little about the whole thing, I felt I can do better if taking effort to learn it.

Reading is absolutely essential for this class, no matter it is newspaper or stylebook. You’ll never make progress if you don’t care about other copy editors’ great work.

Inspiration IV

Image

I never knew that Florence Nightingale was an info graphic guru.

Back to the 1850s, she made the diagram above to show causes of death in the Army in the East. The data was collected from April 1854 to March 1856. Each month’s data was illustrated as a 30-degree wedge. Red represents deaths by injury, blue is death by disease, and black death by other causes.

First of all, I really love this graphic. I love its visual attraction: according to one post from Dynamic Diagrams by Henry Woodbury, Nightingale’s diagram is often referred to as Nightingale’s Rose, which I think is very descriptive.

I love the font of “chatter” at the bottom of this graphic. The text functions kind of as a “key” here. But it also explains some data that might confuse readers. I’d say it’s a combination of “key” and “chatter”.

This graphic was definitely creative. I wonder if it was the “ancestor” of similar diagrams today. The data was strictly organized so that a circle could include 12 months. I like its accuracy.

Next, I will point out a few points that disturb me in this graphic. 

I thought there was no overlapping until I read the “chatter” on the left side. So for some months, like October 1954, black area coincide with red area. But readers might never notice it if they don’t read the text.

Should these areas overlap or not? How could the data be presented more clearly?

It’s really a pity if we have to give up the original design to clarify data distribution.

Later I learned from Henry’s post that the areas of the wedges are actually not proportional – a problem for accuracy.

Yes, bar charts are often more clear for comparison. But they’re not that interesting or attractive. I feel sometimes I like the illustration so much that I can even sacrifice a little clarity. It is a dilemma, sigh.

FREE Data Journalism Handbook online

FREE Data Journalism Handbook online

Inspiration III

About two weeks ago, I got five-year’s reports of crimes involving a gun from city of Columbia’s Police Department.

It is not a huge dataset, but I’m still hesitated to visualize the data since I had little experience for this kind of data.

Today, when I’m browsing the Internet for motion graphics, I found a very interesting post by the Guardian‘s datablog about the Data Journalism’s full shortlist. There’re many interesting programs listed online and worth looking into.

Among them, I found BBC’s “Every death on every road in Great Britain 1999-2010“, which contains TONS of data behind it. Since it’s a big project, the post also has a Q&A link to explain more details. It reminds me of Columbia Missourian‘s “show me the records” package.

BBC’s project inspires me a lot. Although I don’t have the skills right now to create a data-based online interactive project, I know what to expect after dealing with datasets that may have an impact on a societal level.

Inspiration II

Image

Today, Patrick Garvin went from the “Internet” to our actual classroom. :)

Patrick shared his experiences with us, which was so helpful and inspiring.

Here’re some tips he gave us:

  1. You could always e-mail a graphic designer whose work inspires you to get their opinions about your work. Not everybody will respond, but, so what? Sending e-mails cost nothing.
  2. If you’re looking for a job, identify the kind of graphics that they will possibly publish. Show some difference you can bring to them, but stick to their type or style.
  3. Get yourself a portfolio website to show your clips.
  4. Keep a notebook to take down ideas that could turn something into a graphic.

 I like all these tips and wish I will update my own notebook or sketchbook regularly in the near future.

                                                            

Coincidentally, I just borrowed a book about designers’ sketchbooks from library today.

Image

It is full of interesting hand drawings and wonderful ideas.

I even learned a Japanese word from one of the clips. And I found some artists stick Chinese cigarette package and Beijing subway ticket to the book, which is so interesting. I bet they’ve been to China.

It is never easy to fill a blank sketchbook. It is not easy to come up with fantastic ideas.

Sometimes we’re afraid to do something stupid or meaningless with our doodling. But after all, it is a sketchbook! It is for your free time and for having fun!

Kick a start with it! Be brave enough to take down all your crazy ideas!

I’m gonna do it in the summer. 

                                                            

At the very end of the class, Reuben Stern, who used to teach Infographics at J-school and is now Graphics Editor in Futures Lab, said something that moved me so much.

He said, in the graphics class, some students behave like a rock star at Day One. But Patrick was not. His earlier clips were just humble pieces. But he just keeps the passion and keeps doing the staff.

“Remember, this is just a starting point. Keep the passion and keep doing it. You’ll make it.”

His encouragement kicked away my deep worries that keeps growing since the first day I decided to learn info graphics. What if I do not have the talent? What if I’m not good at it at all? What if I don’t possess enough skills before graduation? What if I can’t find a job when I go back home?

These worries are so deeply rooted in my heart that sometimes they blinded me the beautiful things in life. This morning, when I stepped out of Lee Hills, I found the grass and trees were never so green before. I knew spring makes Columbia vibrant, but I didn’t “breathe” the green till today.

It is time to move on and learn to enjoy both work and life.