Print evolution.

1999 [ Page designer / copy editor I — CHRONICLE-TRIBUNE, Marion, Ind. ]

I was hired directly out of college to work on the copy desk at the Chronicle-Tribune in Marion, Ind., after wow-ing the presentation editor during my interview with my idea to make a bar graph out of mugshots of all the Congress members who voted for and against Bill Clinton’s impeachment.

I have always considered myself fortunate to be hired into a great bunch of hard-working and creative journalists. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my career. Working at the Chronicle-Tribune laid the proper foundation for me to become the scrappy, innovative and determined journalist I believe I am today.

2000 [ Assistant city editor — CHRONICLE-TRIBUNE, Marion, Ind. ]

Several months into my job on the copy desk, it became apparent that my editing skills — both in adjusting the words and in coaching other staff — were an asset to have around earlier in the process. After a few months of flipping back and forth from the copy desk to the city desk, I pushed to be made a permanent part of the city desk.

It worked. I was promoted to night ACE, and also did some reporting — though missed an opportunity to interview Dick Van Dyke in favor of another reporter who hadn’t the faintest idea who he was — but thought it fascinating he was carrying around a man-purse while visiting relatives in our small town.

2000 [ Page designer / copy editor II — THE DESERT SUN, Palm Springs, Calif. ]

While I was enjoying working (and thriving) in Marion, I was far from home (Nebraska) and not enjoying that fact. So I asked for a transfer within Gannett… to California. Eh, close enough.

While on the copy desk at The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, I was lucky enough to have ended up under the wing of a very talented design editor: Gabi Campanario, better known these days as the Seattle Sketcher and founder of Urban Sketchers.

Drawing by Seattle Sketcher columnist Gabi Campanario

2003 [ Page designer / copy editor III — THE SUN, San Bernardino, Calif. ]

I started work at The Sun the same week the U.S. went to war with Iraq (the last time).

A former Palm Springs colleague called about a job she had available at The Sun in San Bernardino. It wasn’t a move I was excited to make, but I needed the change. She tried to ease my anxiety a bit by assuring me it was OK if I only ended up staying a year before moving on to something bigger and better. Hilarious, since I’m still technically working for The Sun.

Shortly into my stint on the copy desk here, I was assigned to lay out (and edit, and write headlines…) our Sunday Business section. It wasn’t a primo assignment by any means, but I took advantage of the fact that it was full of wire art and was a section that was largely flying under the radar. It was a copy desk chore, so I began to take (small) risks with design.

It worked, and it wasn’t long before I was designing the front page and laying out special projects.

2005 [ Design Editor — INLAND EMPIRE NEWS GROUP, based at The Sun in San Bernardino, Calif. ]

As The Sun and Inland Valley Daily Bulletin merged their copy desks, I took on a larger role, mentoring our newer designers and eventually identifying further efficiencies that could be made on the copy desk. I developed and refined workflows that allowed us to consolidate two front-page design shifts into one and aligned our graphics personnel with daily production. The graphics team wasn’t happy about it, but the fact was that most of the graphics they were producing (which weren’t numerous) were templated yet somehow time-consuming, and were almost always being killed out by our copy desk when an error discovered on deadline was too cumbersome to fix.

Bringing our graphic production into our pagination system wasn’t ideal for the graphics team but did ensure that edits could be made, which resulted in very few graphics ever being killed out during page production. The shift also meant that our graphics team was capable of maneuvering the pagination system, and so we began to add a bit of pagination to their daily duties as made sense with their and the copy desk’s workloads.

Thankfully, for my own sanity, I still was able to get my hands dirty on the front page, doing the occasional infographic and even a little art direction, as I did in the example below.

TODAY [ Illustrator / designer — FREELANCE, based in Riverside, Calif. ]

Somewhere along the way, I started trying my hand at creating my own illustrations for publication in a few of our papers, particularly for our business section fronts. We were trying to update their visual appeal, and didn’t really have a lot of funds set aside for purchasing stock art. With all the practice I’d had building my own CPs from file images, particularly leading up to (and proceeding) the coverage relating to our “Enough” cover above, it seemed a logical progression.

Further down the road, after I’d already made the flip to digital, I became involved in a family genealogy project, stemming from a draft of memoirs my grandmother had written about her earliest memories. My mother was working on family tree branch illustrations to go with the stories, but I suggested adding photos. It wasn’t long thereafter I began working on a years-long project that would become “My Times” by Janet Powell.

These days, I do a bit of volunteer work designing publicity materials for a theater in the San Diego area. The concepts are generally my own; the images and illustrations certainly are. And the results have met with rave reviews.

[ Read about my digital evolution ]