This is the third part of the Douglas Okasaki’s Column.

Douglas is the graphic designer with Gulf News


SND’ The Best of News Design™ Creative Competition is a box full of surprises. I had the opportunity to work as a facilitator in Syracuse, N.Y. in 2008 and it was the 29th competition edition when my friend Ramachandra Babu was invited to be one of the judges.

My first Society for News Design (SND) award of excellence in life was in the 15th edition, exactly 16 years ago and it was also my first international award for design. It had a great repercussion in the beginning of my career and worked as and incentives to continuing work as a newspaper designer.

Since receiving my first award I got so curious to know how the greatest competition in the world for news design is being done. And in 2008 with Babu judging the competition, I had the big opportunity to discover the goings on competition backstage as a facilitator. Marshall Matlock, the Print Competition and judging director has appointed me to work with the 29th book editor Ron Johnson in the book edition, helping the book edition; it means selecting the page that will be published in the book among the winners. The advantage of this work for me was that I could see all the selected works first-hand and help choose the best pages to be published. It was a big responsibility and very challenging as there are many creative works to appraise.

The four-day competition selection processes were the days of hard work. From facilitators to organizers to judges, everyone have to wake up early and work until late to select the best of the best in the competition. There were no glamour; it’s all hard work under snow and harsh American winter.

The competition is very professionally managed and well organized and there is almost no possibility of interference in the final result. When the competition is finished, almost everything is also finished, the selected pages are already photographed and the next step is the world’s Best Design newspaper competition, usually in the next weekend. Along the process the judges meet and write the statement about what they saw and at the last day, a discussion for the best of show with all gold and judge special recognition. If you already saw a dog show like Westminster or Crufts dog show, at the end all selected winners would parade and the best of show is chosen, the only difference is that there is a possibility of no Best in Show in SND competition.

The experience is incredible, you can see almost all the world’s production in print design and there are wonderful creative pages, you came back inspired and full of ideas to work on, it is a kind of newly charged battery of creativity.

The result is another history recorded in the books of best creative news designs. We always have a surprise, which we can translate into a trendsetter or a message to be reflected and inspired upon. For example there was a year when there was no American newspaper in the list of the World’s Best Newspaper, only European. This recently winner (32nd edition) the Portuguese “i” it’s a fresh and complete new small size newspaper, the unique winner. Why? What’s the matter? Then, it makes you think about what newspapers are doing and of course, this is only one more reference, the World’s Best Newspaper is the best selection in a set of newspaper judge by a set of professional in the SND competition. It does not mean that all newspapers in the world are participating.

But competition and recognition make part of evolution and incentive to an excellence in the work that we are producing. Imagine how graceless the world without the Oscars, Grammys, Nobel Prizes or Miss Universe pageants.
Again the surprise factor of the competition can bring us wonderful history as my friend Adonis Durado from Times of Oman that became the second newspaper in the top winners this year. It is a proof that nothing is impossible and you can attain your goals if you believe in yourself and focus in your objectives and work as a team. Adonis and his design team did it and it will be registered for the records; like Adonis and Times of Oman, SND brings to the front incredible histories that deserve to be shared and served as inspiration for worldwide design team.