My friend Tamara Lavalla tagged me in a 7-day art challenge. Day 1 was about my time spent in the darkroom at Winthrop. Not sure if this challenge is supposed to be chronological or not, but my time at The Herald feels like a logical next step to talk about here.
I sent my resume to The Herald in the winter of 2000, hoping for a job as a reporter. I got a call back from news editor Chris Sherk, and he offered me a spot on the copy desk: copy editing and layout. That sounded pretty good to me; I figured I could do that until a reporter job opened up.
Only, once I started designing news pages, I fell in love with it. I had my epiphany – this is where I was supposed to be. I knew the basics about how to lay out a page, but I knew nothing about how to get creative with it. Adobe Photoshop and Freehand (this was pre-Illustrator, y’all!) were foreign to me.
So I did what any annoying post-college-new-employee would do … I started bugging the crap out of the graphics department to teach me stuff. That’s where my friendship with Tamara and her coworker (and life partner) Zan really began. They taught me the difference between a raster and a vector. They showed me how to draw lines over a map. They taught me how to make cutouts that were not terrible. And to this day, based on their patience and willingness to give me their time, I credit my career to them. They gave me such a great foundation.
Now all I needed was a city editor that would give me the stories in which I could hone my newfound skills. I found that in my working relationship with Jason Foster. Jason started as a reporter, then when he was promoted to city editor, he came with ideas. When he pitched those ideas to me, I was all in. I loved the challenge of trying new things, of playing with typography and graphics to really tell the story on the page.
Fastforward a few years, and in 2005, I submitted three front page designs to the South Carolina Press Association for their design awards consideration. Two of those pages were based off of Jason’s concepts that I brought to light. And, I won first place.
Not just first place in my circulation category, which would have been a major deal in and of itself, but I won BEST OF THE BEST — meaning first place in the entire state of South Carolina that year, even beating papers bigger than us.
Unfortunately, I don’t have all the pages anymore. I don’t even remember what all of them are! But I do remember one of them, so I’ll show it to you here.
This was the same year I was at a conference and the speaker called me out in front of the group, telling me “You’re too good to work at The Herald.” I took that as a huge compliment (as opposed to an insult to the paper). Years later, I’ve moved on, and I don’t think I was too good to work there. I think I was right where I was supposed to be at that time, and The Herald gave me the wings I didn’t even know I needed. Working under Editor Terry Plumb and Managing Editors Rich Rassmann and Paul Osmundson were key to this growth.
Jason, you were one of the most fun editors I ever worked with. Your ability to tell me what your vision looked like is what made those early pages really grow legs. So: tag! Jason, you’re it!