Visual journalism: the power we have in our hands

Posted on Feb 3, 2017 in Uncategorized | No Comments

2016 has been an incredible year. I had the opportunity to give workshops to newspapers from Latin America to Eastern Europe. I met incredible professionals, amazing newspapers, magazines at full throttle. The result of everything? I learned a lot.

During this “lecture tour”, I have been able to show and explain what I have studied and tested in practice over the last 10 years in more than 30 newspapers around the world where I collaborated: the power of visual narrative in journalism. The power of telling stories in a more captivating way, no matter to what kind of publication you work.

All this goes through two basic paths, which have become my focus of study and working tool: “cognitive psychology” and the “generation of emotion”.

While Professor Colin Ware writes that we should think of information design tools and cognitive tools that enhance and extend our brains (diagrams, maps, information graphics, visual instructions, technical illustrations), it helps us solve problems through a process of Visual thinking. Cognition is about understanding!

On the other hand, visual storytelling has the unic power to generate emotions. We can engage our reader to the story with emotions. Like a soundtrack in a movie!

And here, we touch very important area from our readers: the subconscious.

Roger Ebert once said:

 ”Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions never lie to you”

According to many cognitive scientists, our first reactions to new external stimuli are determined by our conscious minds, but by the parasympathetic nervous system, which causes our bodies to produce immediate physical and chemical reactions, such as the production of tears, laughter, or adrenaline.

It’s only a few milliseconds after the most involved computer processing parts of our brain are involved, adding logic and explanation to this instinctive emotional outlet.

Sometimes we forget that, as visual journalists, we have lot of power in our hands.

In Scandinavia: time to say “thank you”

Posted on Dec 16, 2016 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Few years ago, I was in Copenhagen to give a lecture at the “Danish School of Media and Journalism” and a workshop for the “Politiken” and “Ekstra Bladet” newspapers.

After the lecture, at the university, I met Lars Pryds, where I learned that he was the Editor-in-Chief of the SNDs magazine. I was amazed with the incredible contribution that Lars was doing for so many years for our industry, in Scandinavia, a region with so many newspapers and professionals that I admire.

I have been closely following the publication in the last years and this week I found out that Lars, after 11 years of an amazing work, decided to not lead the magazine anymore.

My first reaction was to write him, simply to say “thank you”.
For the great magazines. Publications in which we got to know fantastic newspapers, inspiring redesigns, highlights on coverage of special topics, new talented designers, and so many other aspects of our industry, where visual journalism makes a difference.

He answered me sharing his experience in these last 11 years:

“Working with SNDS Magazine for 11 years has been amazing – not least because of all the good people from all over the world, who unselfishly have shared their words, pictures, thoughts and ideas with our loyal readers.
Without this great content, it would not have been possible.We have always tried to let the covers reflect one of the themes or stories within the mag. Sometimes the main story, at others the most visually appealing subject. Here are some of my personal favourites – a selection that also documents the diversity of the content.”

I asked Lars to select the 10 magazines that marked him the most. Here is what he says about each of them:


“An issue with two themes, really – a lot of great photography, and a look at modern typography. The latter urged me to photograph some old Roman Capital Letters, which I had carved in marble myself 20 years earlier in design school”



“A selfportrait of the Danish photographer Liv Carlé Mortensen (1970– ) with her sons – stark naked, but with her breasts removed and deep flesh cuts added in Photoshop – was blocked (twice!) from my Facebook profile as well as from SNDS Magazine’s page. So much (or so little) respect for the freedom of speech in pictures. Liv was one of the great speakers at the 2008 SNDS conference”



“In 2010, I interviewed another Danish photographer: Mads Nissen (1979– ), who at the time was beginning to gain recognition for his work on an international level, peaking in 2015, when he won the World Press Photo “Picture of the Year” award. The cover shows a detail of his touching photo of Angela, a prostitute in a village near Eldorado do Juma, the enormous illegal gold mine in Brazil’s Amazone rainforest”



“Make a drawing,” Lisbeth said. The editor of my life – and also co-editor of SNDS Magazine since I took over as editor-in-chief from Jørgen Høg in 2010 – persuaded me to create an ink-and-brush drawing of Scandinavia for this cover. It seemed only natural that the logo/nameplate of the mag should also be hand-drawn – for the first and only time in the magazine’s history. The map shows all the different locations for 25 years of SNDS conferences”



“The world is blown away! No, not by terrorists or World War III, but by a single, old-style revolver. This fiberglass sculpture by Chinese artist A Shin (Chen Shih-Hung), which I photographed at the International Biennale of Art in Venice, Italy, is a strong statement in the borderland between news and art – a visual question to us all: What do we want to do with this world?”



”Gudrun Marie Schmidt, journalist at Danish newspaper Politiken, was the amazingly elegant and super charming Award Show host at the SPACE_2012 SNDS conference, held in the Royal Library (the Black Diamond) in Copenhagen. In this cover photo by Ditte valente, Gudrun applauds the winners in front of the biggest screen in town, showing my design for that year’s competition. This is also an example of the “themed conferences” for which SND Scandinavia has gained a reputation, but which sadly have been phased out in recent years”



“The blue arse” turned into a joke between me and the rest of the committee, when I suggested we use it on the cover of the catalogue of winners in the 2014 competition. We found another solution for the book, but I decided to run my snapshot from the jury work on the magazine instead. The entry – by Norwegian Dagens Næringsliv/D2 – won an Honourable Mention award”



”In recent years, the SNDS conference has been in October, so issue no. 4 of the magazine has traditionally been packed with images and reports from the event. On this cover, long time SNDS member Ingrid Meisingset, Design Director at Adresseavisen (N), tries on the then celebrated, now discontinued Google Glass. Photo by Søren Stidsholt Nielsen”



”With the first issue in 2015, we launched a discreet redesign of the mag, changing the grid system as well as replacing Myriad and Jenson with the more contemporary typefaces Museo Slab and Erik Spiekerman’s brand new Real Text. This year, we also introduced a new concept for the annual design conference – instead of a changing theme, the identity of the event was to focus on SNDS and the year. The new conference logo is seen here in one of our clean cut graphic covers”



“My best performance is always the next one,” said one of the dancers in a recent Copenhagen production of the Nutcracker. But as I will not be creating the next cover for SNDS Magazine, this last one is a favourite. It conveys the joy of winning, and it signals the importance of being a member of the unique global network formed by SNDS and SND. This simply could not be a better final cover – happy members Gunn Magni Galaaen and Annette Lysberg Gundersen from Trønder-Avisa (N) on stage in Malmoe, accepting a Gold Award. Another great photo by Søren Stidsholt Nielsen”



Lars Pryds is a Copenhagen based artist and designer, working with editorial design, publishing and fine art from Tolstrup Pryds Grafisk Tegnestue, which he shares since 1987 with his wife, designer and art critic Lisbeth Tolstrup. He holds a Master’s Degree in Design from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation. He has over 20 years of experience from some of Denmark’s largest daily newspapers and is a multiple SND and SNDS award winner.



10 Awards at the European Newspaper Award

Posted on Nov 17, 2016 in Uncategorized | No Comments

I am very honored to win 10 awards at the European Newspaper Award with Bild am Sonntag.
For me, this is one more proove that Visual journalism can make the difference also in a popular newspaper!

Here are the awarded pages and the respective categories:


Special Pages


News Pages (Terror)



Visual Storytelling


24_07_16_hp_028_031_29-1 24_07_16_hp_028_031_29-2

27_03_16_rabbit-for-sauloWith Rafal Piekarski

Alternative Storytelling


01_05_16_vv_014_6With Rafal Piekarski

01_05_16_vv_012_013_2629_11_15_vv_010_011_19With Marco Bratsch and Rafal Piekarski

01_05_16_vv_010_26With Marco Bratsch and Rafal Piekarski

Section Front Pages

08_05_16_vv_020_22With Marco Bratsch and Rafal Piekarski

Visual storytelling is like telling a joke

Posted on Oct 31, 2016 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Once giving a lecture in an University, I was asked about how is my creative process when I do a page in a newspaper.…

My answer was: “Visual storytelling is like telling a joke”.

Because jokes are fascinating. The punchline of a joke is the opposite of expectation. And we laugh. It’s sometimes the opposite of something you are thinking. The creation of joke, going through a routine to tell a story after a story, that is presented different, makes you laugh.

I am not saying that visual storytelling is about laughing, but about generating a reaction. The way a joke is suppose to bring you somewhere and drive you somewhere else, this surprise element, catches our attention in order to generate an emotion.

Bellow my latest work at Bild am Sonntag, from the last issue:

santana_food santana_church_reformation

santana_afeganistan1Photos by Christian Spreitz

santana_house_securityantartic_saulosantana1Illustration with Piekaryo

Two-day workshop in Serbia: a step forward in visual journalism

Posted on Oct 12, 2016 in Uncategorized | No Comments

(First day of the workshop, at Blic newsroom in Belgrade – photo by Oliver Bunić/Blic)


I had the honor to spend the last two days of this week conducting a very exciting two-day workshop in Belgrade, Serbia, working together with the talented teams from the newspapers Blic and Alo! and from the magazines НИН and Blic Žena, making a step further in visual journalism.

On the first day we did an overview, passing through visual storytelling, infographics and typography, analysing examples, theories and processes.

Since I believe that one of the most important instrument, when its about visual storytelling, is the use of cognitive psychology, we analysed how it can work as a wise tool to engage readers, generating emotional reactions, and improving the understanding of stories.

On the second day, with the heads of departments, we focused on the daily Blic and on its Saturday edition. I made a analysis of both products, taking a deep look at how it presented news. We had an entire morning discussion with the team and identified important points and estimated the next steps that will help the development of both publications.

I leave Serbia inspired by a newspaper with an amazing potential and a brilliant team led by Jelena Drakulic (CEO), who has always impressed me by her unique approach on the publications in Serbia, and her talented Visual Director, Slobodan Pikula.


(Newspaper analysis, on the second day of the workshop)

2 Awards at the Lead Awards

Posted on Oct 9, 2016 in Uncategorized | No Comments

img_4294(photo form the Award gallery in Hamburg, Germany)


And October starts with good news! Happy to win 2 awards at the Lead Awards in Germany with Bild am Sonntag.

One award, with the special section of the 60th Anniversary of the newspaper, where we showed 60 covers from the last 60 years. The other, with 22 pages of breaking news, when the sad and unbelievable terrorist attacks happened in Paris.

The first, a celebration of journalism. The second, visual journalism in its essence, on the limit of deadline.


“60 years of Bild am Sonntag”

(check here the “making of” this cover)


“War against our way of living”











The design jury

Posted on Oct 7, 2016 in Uncategorized | No Comments

DGL Testtage 2016Balocco, 03.10.2016(c) Niels Starnick / Bild am Sonntag

For the third time I joined the design jury of the most important Award of the Auto industry in Europe, “The Golden Steering Wheel”. This year, designers from different areas, were in the team: Anton Piëch, Andrea Zagato, Louis de Fabribeckers, Andrej Kupetz and Paolo Tumminelli. Were fun days in Balocco with great discussions and talks about how design can create this important relation between car and driver.

(photo by Niels Starnick)

Redesigning a magazine in 36 countries

Posted on May 17, 2016 in Recent Projects, Uncategorized | No Comments


Less than 2 years ago I had the honor to redesign Auto Bild magazine in Germany. In the last months, the graphic project that I developed began to be applied in the other countries where the magazine has own versions. After Germany, the graphic project started to be implemented in the magazines from Spain, Bulgaria, Poland, Turkey, Serbia, Czech Republic (photo above) and some other countries.

AUTO BILD is the largest car magazine in the world, present in 36 countries, selling more than more than 7 million copies each month, celebrating this year its 30th anniversary.


Read more:
In the TOP 3 of the best redesigns in Germany
The “before x after” of the redesign. 


Bellow some pages of the project in:


Auto Bild Germany

Click here to see the project details and pages of Auto Bild in Germany


Auto Bild Spain

IMG_3366 IMG_3368a IMG_3369IMG_3383 IMG_3384 IMG_3373 IMG_3374 IMG_3375 IMG_3376 IMG_3377 IMG_3378 IMG_3379 IMG_3385 IMG_3386 IMG_3387 IMG_3388 IMG_3389


Auto Bild Poland

IMG_3345 IMG_3346 IMG_3347 IMG_3348 IMG_3349 IMG_3351 IMG_3353 IMG_3354


Auto Bild Bulgaria

IMG_3303 IMG_3307 IMG_3309 IMG_3311 IMG_3313 IMG_3315 IMG_3316


Auto Bild Turkey

IMG_3317 IMG_3318 IMG_3319 IMG_3320 IMG_3321 IMG_3322 IMG_3323 IMG_3324 IMG_3325 IMG_3326 IMG_3327 IMG_3328


Auto Bild Czech Republic

IMG_3329 IMG_3330 IMG_3337 IMG_3338 IMG_3339 IMG_3340 IMG_3341

60th Anniversary of Bild am Sonntag

Posted on May 5, 2016 in Recent Projects, Uncategorized | No Comments

Bild am Sonntag is the biggest Sunday newspaper in Europe, and this week celebrates its 60th Anniversary.

For this date, we had last Sunday a special issue with the must memorable covers from the last 60 years. While I was designing the cover for this extra section, I recorded the process of doing it. This “making of” shows the main idea of the cover: an overview on different facts that happened in the last 60 years and were on the pages of the newspaper.

10 hours of work, that are now summarized in the 2 minutes video bellow:


Also for the anniversary, I designed a commemorative Logo,  used in the newspaper and applied in all campaigns.
As a concept for the Logo, my idea was to show what we must wish from this world: happiness.

Bellow, the visual Guide Line and the applications of the logo:



9 Awards at the ENC16

Posted on May 5, 2016 in Uncategorized | No Comments


This week I joined the European Newspaper Congress in Vienna. Interesting talks and discussions. From all, I kept one quote in my mind (don’t remember who really said it):

“focus on what you are good at”

For me this is the message for all publishing houses when thinking about reinvent theirselves.

In the end of the congress there was the Award Ceremony. Happy to be awarded with 9 Awards.

(On the photo Norbert Küpper, from my team: Marco Bratch (Sport Managing Editor) and Madeleine Jarling (Layout Chief), and Annette Milz).