April 2024

On Wisconsin Spot Illustrations

On Wisconsin utilizes spot illustrations to help provide more visual interest to a news story or subject when photography isn’t easy or when the subject matter is abstract. They can also add humor or whimsy to the content. These are typically created in-house and are one of my favorite additions to a page or spread. I’ve always loved tying two ideas together and building a design off of that.

“The Truth in Our Genes” was a challenging assignment in many ways. The subject of genetic research and its real-world effects does not suggest any obvious imagery that would communicate the article’s complex ideas. I tried to connect the themes of “genetics” and “community” but turning the base pairs within the strands of DNA above into humans going about their daily lives. I used a colorful palette that extends to the spot illustrations, drop cap, and the multicolored bands under each subhead.

Left: spot illustration for a news piece reporting UW research showing that dish-grown retinal cells respond like those in a healthy retina and offers hope for failing eyes. Middle: From an article that considers lesser-known UW discoveries, this one being that cats prefer music composed to a pitch and tempo that matches their own sensory system, not ours. Right: A spot for a news story that examines the heath benefits of eliminating air-pollution emissions.

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