INFOGRAPHIC / INTERVIEW

“Infographics is a complete and solid expression of design”

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A new generation of illustrators is rising in the Middle East – they are infographics artists. Visual journalism, which conveys the news through images, is still a relatively new concept in the world of journalism. Only a limited number of professionals are able translate information into a drawing, which could be the size of a single column or span several pages. There is no specific design course available; most infographics artists have taught themselves by observing trends and through research. Despite this specialisation being limited, the region is very well presented in terms of creativity and quality. Noted artists include Lee McGorie from “The National”, Maher Al Johari from “Emarat Al Youm” and Antonio Farach from “Times of Oman”.

Another inforgraphics artist that turns heads is Dwynn Trazo from “Gulf News”. He recently made history when he received Gold and Silver Awards at the latest SND creative competition, as this is the first time a professional from Dubai has ever been given Gold.

Dwynn Trazo performance in Society for News Design creative competition was outstanding, he got a gold award for 50th years of Bond movie and a silver for “A lunar lookback” infographic. Dwynn’s gold award from SND represent the first gold award for Dubai.

We got to catch up with Dwynn and find out about his experience as an infographics artist.

Q: How did you become an infographics artist?

Dwynn: I started when I formally joined “Gulf News” in 2006. Back then, I had very minimal knowledge about information graphics so I tried to absorb everything I could, especially infographic theories. There are plenty of samples from the web but I didn’t know how to pick the good one from the bad. I was severely crippled in that sense and I was learning from scratch. It took about two years of practice and application before I could finally say that I had a good grasp on what infographics was all about. But that didn’t mean I stopped learning.

Q: What design-related skills or abilities helped you become an infographics artist?

I’m a Cum Laude graduate of fine arts with a major in advertising, so I know a lot about design theories. I’ve also worked as a graphic designer and photographer in an advertising company, and I have experience working as a web creative supervisor and designer while doing a little bit of 3D on the side. All of these helped in the sense that a lot of the theories can be applied to information graphics. It also meant I had to be technically proficient with design programmes.

Q: What challenges did you face in the beginning?

Not knowing where and how to start and end. In infographics an overall sense of control is critical. You cannot highlight every fact or statistic just because it’s there. Generally, if you are not guided by theories you end up with a bad clutter of information.

Q: Did you have a mentor or someone that inspired you?

I have several people to thank for helping me get to where I am today. My design director, Miguel Gomez, my friend Luis Chumpitaz and a lot of inspiration from Karl Gude all helped me go a long way. I consider them my foundation. And, of course, I look at and analyse the works of John Grimwade, Nigel Holmes, Alberto Cairo and Juan Velasco to name a few.

Q: Do you enjoy being an infographics artist?

 I do. I research, analyse, write, illustrate and lay-out. Infographics is a complete and solid expression of design.

Q: How do you feel about your achievements and awards?

To summarise, they’re a testament to years of continuous learning.

Q: What’s your advice for beginners and those who want to become professionals?

They must understand the basics. Learn the theories and apply them, but do not be afraid to experiment as well. Be on the lookout for inspiration while being cautious of those that are only superficial. I see a lot of new “cool” infographics but they really don’t serve their purpose once you dig deeper.

Q: What are your plans and future expectations?

I just want to continue to grow and learn. I’m hoping that someday I can give back to the wold of infographics.

Q: What was it like winning thee awards?

Winning Gold and Silver Awards from SND and IFRA is great honour. It’s very satisfying when they recognise your work and reward you with the highest of honors.

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