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CNN Editorial Illustrations


CNN, Atlanta | Website

Services provided:

  • Illustration
  • Visual Journalism
  • Infographics


While working in  visual journalism capacity for CNN, there was many times stories were published that dealt with subjects and ideas that are hard to represent visually. CNN’s standard use of photographs to illustrate these stories was not possible in these cases, and thus we used illustrations. Illustration has the capability of representing complex subjects better than most photography precisely because it doesn’t have verisimilitude. Users seeing a photograph, especially on a journalism website, have reason to believe that what they are seeing is “the truth.” Illustration has no such obligation and thus provides the leeway for representing topics that are not otherwise easily visually representable.

Where is self-control in the brain?

CNN’s Elizabeth Landau wrote this story about new research on how the brain manages self-control. Of course, imagery for such a story doesn’t easily come in photographic form, so I created these two illustrations to accompany the story.

Polyamory: When three isn’t a crowd

This story was written by CNN’s Emanuella Grinberg and is about a growing subset in American culture of people in polyamorous relationships. In these relationships, the partners are knowingly involved with more than one person. The story follows a main couple and the associated people that fill out their relationship network. Once again, not a topic that is easily represented y photographs alone, one of the two illustrations I created for this story is actually an infographic diagramming the relationship network of the main couple in the story.

Saying ‘no’ is much harder than it should be

This op-ed piece by a CNN contributor details some of the ideas and research about why we say “yes” when we really want to say “no.” Whether it be with friends or family, many times the obligations we feel make us do things we don’t want to or may not be in our best interest. Once again, not something that is easily visualized. The simple illustration i created attempts to get at the crux of the story.

CNN’s John Blake wrote this piece about the absence of talk about the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) in the sermons of evangelical ministers across the Bible Belt. While a few select members were speaking out against state lawmakers refusing to extend Medicaid benefits to people in various states, there was mostly silence coming from the pulpit in congregations where many of the people who could benefit from such Medicaid extension attend church. A complicated and politically messy story, it was impossible to visually capture all its aspects, but the illustration I created provides a creative visual hook that hints toward the story and encourages the reader to dive into it.

Schools preach ‘enthusiastic’ yes in sex consent education

This CNN story reports on a growing educational and behavioral policy on college campuses that encourage and require and enthusiastic affirmation of sexual consent from both parties to remain within the rules. Photographs of college couples holding hands were available and used, but for a teaser image for social media and on the CNN homepage, I hand-lettered and designed this image that provides a mysterious complement to the headline.

Tougher drunk-driving threshold proposed to reduce traffic deaths

Photos of booze or people drinking just didn’t suffice for a social-media teaser image for this CNN story about proposed tougher blood-alcohol limits in DUI cases. I created the image that illustrates the proposed change in amount an average male adult could drink before and after any changes to policy go into place.

Websites become tool for stopping veteran suicides

CNN’s Moni Basu wrote this story about a number of support groups popping up online and on social media that provide help to and overwhelming number of veterans considering suicide. A heavy topic that had to be gently handled, I created this illustration that shows the steps needed to untie a noose on a camouflage background as a symbolic representation of what the support groups hope to do.

Domestic abuse story series

I created this illustration to accompany a series of intimate stories about domestic abuse and violence. Many times the subjects/victims of the stories cannot be identified visually or otherwise and thus creativity and discretion is called for when trying to create accompanying imagery. The illustration here is a representation of one vignette described by a victim in the story.

Console smackdown! PlayStation 4 vs. Xbox One

One of the big stories of the 2013 holiday shopping season was the release of two new gaming consoles from Sony and Microsoft. There were many “electronics porn” images of the consoles on the web way ahead of the release date, so I did a throwback treatment here that aimed to recall video games of the past with vintage colors, design and photo treatments. The illustration was used on social media and tops the story which can be found here.

Sweet comparisons: How much sugar is in that drink?

The CNN photos team commissioned this photo story documenting the sugar content of various popular soft and juice drinks. Once the photo shoot was over and the project was coming together they realized they needed a title slate for the front of the gallery and to use on social media. I created this illustration using photography of actual sugar arranged into letter forms along with ample clean-up and manipulation in photoshop afterwards.

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