AAJA Defined
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AAJA Defined

Clare Lynne Ramirez brings creative diversity into one of America’s oldest newsrooms

Sofia Koyama

Welcome to AAJA Defined, a blog highlighting the dazzling array of people who make up our #AAJAFamily. We ask bite-sized questions that provide sneak peeks into the days in the lives of our AAJA membership, as well as their thought processes, paths taken and inspirations. Learn more AAJA Defined here.

On the tail end of Filipino American History Month, we’re kicking things off with a conversation with journalist and designer Clare Lynne Ramirez. Clare is a designer and art director for The Washington Post Magazine, working on projects for print and web. Since joining The Washington Post in 2017, she has worked in many sections across the newsroom, including business, technology, sports and features.

Clare Lynne Ramirez

The visuals chosen to accompany stories can affect the mood of the piece and enhance the reader’s experience. As an art director, how do you decide what visuals or illustrations to accompany stories?

CLARE LYNNE RAMIREZ (she/her): When I start the illustration process, I like to spend a lot of time researching so I can be sure to select the right artist for a story. Before I do this, I have conversations with the story editor to figure out what the tone of the piece is. If a story is more positive, I would search for an artist with a bright and fun style. If I’m looking for a portrait, I’ll look for an artist who is good at drawing likenesses. It’s all about what best serves the story and finding the visual style and concept to match it.

Against a navy blue background with an icon of a golden feather in the header, a headline in white text reads “The search for evidence.” The body text reads: “What does it take to report a story like this one? Investigating a sexual assault allegation requires a high level of sensitivity, and before these stories can every be published, they go through a rigorous process of vetting.” Below is a black-and-white image of a woman sitting in a chair holding a notebook with a page full of writing.
From “Canary: The Washington Post Investigates,” The Post’s first long-form investigative podcast that follows survivors of sexual assault in their pursuit of justice.

Is your design process for digital stories different compared to your process for print ones?

CLARE: It’s great being able to design enterprise and feature stories for our site and flex my storytelling muscles in a different way than in print. The process really comes down to something I said earlier, which is figuring out what best serves the story. Do we let the visuals speak for themselves? Or is there something technical we can do to elevate the visuals? Whether I’m working with illustrations, videos, photos or graphics, it’s a very collaborative process to figure out the right pacing and treatment for each project.

What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on so far, and do you have any ideas you’re itching to try out, whether for digital or for print?

An $100 bill folded origami-style into a slice of cake sits on a white plate surrounded by white flowers. A hand is poised above with a silver fork, as if ready to take a bite out of the cake. Text below reads: “Cakes are over: Here comes the pie.”
From “Wedding bills are ringing” in The Washington Post’s 2019 Weddings issue.

CLARE: In the past year I’ve been working closely with the Magazine team to produce projects like our 2020 Photo Issue both online and in print. I had the opportunity to work on the digital design for Canary: The Washington Post Investigates, which was such an interesting storytelling challenge to depict a podcast in a visual page. I also enjoyed art directing a special Business of Weddings issue a few years ago — I created the money origami and even asked a coworker to bring in her wedding dress and be our model.

As an AAPI journalist, you bring to the table a different perspective that has been uniquely shaped by your identity. How does it influence the art and illustrations you look for, as well as your editorial thinking?

CLARE: Something that is always on my mind is making sure that I’m working with a wide array of artists. I’ve been really proud to have brought in new artists to The Post who have never worked with us before, especially artists who are people of color and young women. I also think that art directors shouldn’t rely on BIPOC artists to only illustrate issues that pertain to race or culture. There are so many talented BIPOC artists out there who can illustrate any subject, and that’s what I aim to do in my position.

A screenshot of Clare Lynne Ramirez’s website page highlighting the work she did for the Washington Post’s 2020 Photo Issue. The webpage features scans of magazine layouts with both color and black and white photography.
Highlights of Washington Post Magazine’s 2020 Photo Issue showcased on Clare’s online portfolio.

Find more of Clare’s work on her website or follow her on Twitter. Be sure to follow AAJA Defined as we continue to chat with AAPI journalists and share their stories.

Sofia Koyama is the Digital Engagement Coordinator with AAJA. She is based in Brooklyn. Find her on Twitter.

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AAJA Defined showcases the lives and journeys of AAPI media professionals (and allies) shaping global narratives about Asian Pacific America and redefining journalism in inclusive, expansive, and visionary ways. Produced by the Asian American Journalists Association, est. 1981.

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