During the SND conference, the judges used recurring phrases to describe design such as “rises above,” “stuff that pulls me in,” and “striking.” There was one publication that continued to impress me all weekend. It is a publication that the judges repeatedly used these phrases to describe it: The Times of Oman. In the Features section, where I spent most of my time during the conference, this publication was constantly awarded and recognized.
One element used in the Times of Oman that I will remember for years, and possibly for my entire design career, is the bright green rectangle used as a header on the top of each page of the newspaper (seen in The Times of Oman examples below). This bold design element brands the paper and distinguishes from all newspapers across the world. If readers saw the paper from a distance, they would easily recognize the newspaper. I learned that unique, vivid, and impactful design choices like this are essential to the success of a design.
When discussing JSR (Judges Special Recognition) awards, the judges spent a great deal of time talking about The Times of Oman’s designs. It took them awhile to form a cohesive, unified, and simple way to describe why their designs are always so successful. They came to the conclusion that The Times of Oman was worthy of a JSR because they always “dare to suck.” The publication is unique because they don’t allow the “newspaper” format to confine them. They’re not just playing by different rules, they’re making their own rules. They’re designs are truly innovative, imaginative, and different from what the rest of the world is doing. The judges pointed out that the designs aren’t always perfectly executed, but it’s their bold choices and willingness to be different that makes them truly special. This taught me that it’s better to make riskier design choices that may or may not work, then to play it safe. Safe design is not memorable; bold design, even if it’s not perfect is always more memorable. This is one lesson I will apply to my In Retro publication design.
And as an American, I especially appreciated the opportunity to learn about foreign newspapers through SND. The Times of Oman was a great example to learn from because their work is different from traditional American newspaper design, and they are also restricted by their government and culture. It was eye opening to hear Lucille discuss her experience with the paper. The idea of censorship in media is unfamiliar to me and made me grateful for all of the chances I have to express myself. But her work also taught me that limits cannot limit you, instead it should inspire one to be even more creative. Even with the restraints in place, their publication rises above the rest.
And overall, I really enjoyed the SND experience. I was tired throughout and worried about getting work done for other classes but aside from that, it was a once in a lifetime learning experience. Even if I don’t work in design, I will forever value the chance to hear others speak so passionately about design. And even more than before, I understand why excellent design is essential to a publication. It is essential to storytelling, to the educational component of news, and to the life/tone of a newspaper. I also have a better grasp on design vocabulary and concepts.