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SND35 Awards 2: Times of Oman and the Key to All Those Awards

Posted on the 20 February 2014 by Themarioblog @garciainteract

TAKEAWAY: The Society of News Design (SND) has just announced 35th Edition contest winners. We take pride in the success of our client newspapers and will be devoting TheMarioBlog post the rest of the week to chat with art directors from some of the winning newspapers. Today: a chat with Times of Oman design director Adonis Durado.



SND35 Awards 2: Times of Oman and the key to all those awardsThese are titles from the Garcia Media portfolio that have received awards at the SND 35 Competition recently SND35 Awards 2: Times of Oman and the key to all those awards


SND35 Awards 2: Times of Oman and the key to all those awards SND35 Awards 2: Times of Oman and the key to all those awards

Designer: Adonis Durado

SND35 Awards 2: Times of Oman and the key to all those awards

Designer: Antonio Farach

SND35 Awards 2: Times of Oman and the key to all those awards

Designer: Geri Batara

SND35 Awards 2: Times of Oman and the key to all those awards

Designer: Greg Fernandez

SND35 Awards 2: Times of Oman and the key to all those awards

Designer: Isidore Carloman

SND35 Awards 2: Times of Oman and the key to all those awards Designer: Jihene Atia SND35 Awards 2: Times of Oman and the key to all those awards

Designer: Lucille Umali

SND35 Awards 2: Times of Oman and the key to all those awards

Designer: Muthita Torteeka

SND35 Awards 2: Times of Oman and the key to all those awards

Designer: Marcelo Duhaldi

SND35 Awards 2: Times of Oman and the key to all those awards

Photo by Cio Datan

SND35 Awards 2: Times of Oman and the key to all those awards

Designer: Ralf Bagares

SND35 Awards 2: Times of Oman and the key to all those awards

Designer: Sahir K M

SND35 Awards 2: Times of Oman and the key to all those awards

Designer: Srinivasa Rao

SND35 Awards 2: Times of Oman and the key to all those awards

Designer: Walesa Rabin

SND35 Awards 2: Times of Oman and the key to all those awards

Designer: Winie Aramy



The Times of Oman and its sister newspaper Al Shabiba, published in Arabic, are the toast of the town, the most talked about of the winners, and, as I refer to them, “the little trains that could.

Believe me when I tell you that these two newspapers, published out of the same newsroom in Muscat, were at the zero stage of anything related to visual storytelling when I first visited them 8 years ago. It became obvious to me that, while management was eager for big change in the way the newspapers looked, they had no idea what that would entail. First, it was necessary to create an infrastructure to allow for visual thinking to come into a newsroom that had never been exposed to it.

Second, it was imperative to hire the right art director who, in turn, would build a team.

Enter the mega talented Adonis Durado, whom I had met at the Gulf News and who by now had relocated to Thailand. The rest is a rich history of change, innovation, and, some say, miracles. (I agree!).

Now The Times of Oman and Al Shabiba have accumulated 111 awards in SND 35. Impressive, but true. I chatted with Adonis this week about this major accomplishment, one that should serve as a model to any organization out there wondering if it is possible for a newspaper to make such meteoric rise.

Some questions for Adonis Durado

Mario:

Adonis, when you came to the Times of Oman, it was a barebones operation. No art director. No real graphics arts department. I had redesigned it and expressed to the publisher that it was basically impossible to keep the changes alive without the presence of a design director. What was the biggest challenge for you to build what is now one of the most creative newspaper art departments in the world?

Adonis:

I think bringing in the ‘culture of design’ in my department is the biggest challenge. You’ve got to change the mindset and attitude of not just the designers, but the editors as well. On my first year, I spent most of my time mentoring my staff; challenging the old habit and tradition of newsroom operation; and bringing up the bar of excellence in our work. I’d say it was really tough, and at times a bit atrocious, as there were countless fights with editors and axing stubborn staffs that do not follow with your vision and guidance. And since I manage newspapers in two languages (English and Arabic), handling two separate design teams made it even tougher. The uphill battle really for me is directing the Arabic team because I neither speak nor understand the language. In most cases, when I communicate with the Arabic designers or editors, I need to call a translator. But I always remember the advice that you gave me when I came on board: “Be the catalyst of change.” Well, I’m so glad I have kept the flame that the Garcia Media has initiated – and it’s burning brightly.

Mario:

On a day-to-day basis, how would you describe your job in terms of:

—Communicating with the editors/reporters about story ideas going through the pipeline.

Adonis:

While attending the editorial meeting, my job is to spot visual opportunities or contribute other possible ways to layer or package a story.

—Communicating with your team about developing those ideas.

I make sure that my senior staffs (design editor, photo editor, graphic editor) are involved and contribute in the process. Being a small newspaper, we have lots of constraints compared to bigger papers. We don’t have an army of photographers or budget to deploy them abroad, or perhaps commission work from award-winning photographers or illustrators. Therefore in our line of attack, we constantly ask ourselves: How best we can visualize this story given the limited resources and time? I guess this condition somehow helped us thrive more creatively.

—Checking the progress of how a concept develops.

I’d like to think that my job is between an orchestra conductor and a hostage negotiator. I make sure everything works well… and nothing is harmed in the process.

Mario:

How have Times of Oman / Al Shabiba changed as a result of this global design fame?

Adonis:

I’m not sure if it did change anything. But as far as I know, this serves as a good reminder to us that we are on the right track… and that I should keep this answer briefly so I could start digging on my backlog.

Tomorrow:
Die Zeit: Best of Newspaper Design
Previously about SND 35 winners:

SND35 Awards: What Makes a Winner?

http://www.garciamedia.com/blog/articles/snd35_awards_1_what_makes_a_winner

Our previous blogs/case study on Garcia Media’s work with Times of Oman and Al Shabiba:

Times of Oman goes for total rethinking, redesign

http://garciamedia.com/blog/articles/times_of_oman_goes_for_total_rethinking_redesign

Our work with Al Shabiba logo continues

http://garciamedia.com/blog/articles/sunday_updates_our_work_with_al_shabiba_logo_continues/

http://garciamedia.com/blog/articles/basic_ingredients_for_ipad_design_stay_close_to_the_basics_plus_more_times_

For previous Al Shabiba posts:

http://garciamedia.com/blog/articles/monday_in_muscat_readying_two_newspapers_for_april_4_launch

http://garciamedia.com/blog/articles/tuesday_report_from_oman_opinions_vary_on_al_shabiba_logo_and_we_continue/

http://garciamedia.com/blog/articles/moschino_it_is_the_best_youngest_logo_for_al_shabiba_wins/

http://garciamedia.com/blog/articles/basic_ingredients_for_ipad_design_stay_close_to_the_basics_plus_more_times_

TheMarioBlog post #1437

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