I’d been looking forward to SND for a long time, way before we started talking about it in class, and the experience lived up to my expectations. For one weekend I lived in the bubble known as SND judging. Yes, the days were long, but it was also a unique opportunity to learn from the pros and see the best pages from all over the world.
I’m really glad to have kicked things off with the Student Symposium on Friday. A lot of interesting topics were covered, though my personal favorite was Michael Whitley of the Los Angeles Times, partially because he spoke really in-depth about a paper I grew up with, and partially because he discussed the paper’s tablet initiatives. I also signed up for a portfolio review and received really constructive feedback. Speaking to my reviewer so early on opened up the door for many more great conversations with him throughout the weekend, possibly the most valuable ones I had the entire weekend.
During judging I worked with the long-form team. Because the judges had to take more time reading each entry, I had the flexibility to bounce around between sections, so I ended up also spending a lot of time in features. With long form I was able to sit in on the discussion for the first gold medal of the competition, which was a huge learning experience in itself. Some of the long-form entries appeared with different edits in multiple categories, and when they appeared in multiple medal discussions, it was fascinating to hear what specific elements elevated coverage that had already won silver to gold.
I was surprised to see how difficult it is just to win an Award of Excellence, much less a medal. So many of the entries popped when viewed on their own, yet in the context of the competition they didn’t quite rise to the level that the judges felt worthy of an award. There were plenty of pages that people snatched up right away even thought they couldn’t get three judges’ votes.
The whole experience reassured me that I’ve made the right choices in terms of my career. It was a great reminder that print design is still alive, and that people are out there doing impressive, inspiring work. It’s also a group of personalities I feel comfortable around, which is a hopeful sign regarding the types of people I’ll be working with as I start my own career. I was also reassured that the tablet experience I’m trying to develop this semester will pay off — I’ll have the advantage of having started learning it in school as opposed to having to pick it up on the job.
Overall, it was great to be among people who obviously care so much about news design, and I’m excited to take everything I learned and channel it into my own work.