Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Who’s behind the Arrow design

Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Design by Ally Bruemmer

An advertising student walks into a newsroom, looks around and says, “Why is everybody running?” That’s how I felt when I walked down to the basement of the Rust Center for Media — home of the Southeast Arrow — on my first day as the design editor.

If you flip to the centerfold of any Arrow newspaper from the past year and a half, you’ll see most of the content I’ve made at the Arrow. Never in my life did I think I would ever be working in a newsroom. I was never a writer or photographer. Coming into college, I had very little design experience and didn’t really have any skills to offer in my field yet. My sophomore year, I somehow scored a job in SEMO’s marketing department creating ads and promotional content. For some of my first assignments, I received full pages of edits on my designs from my project managers. Getting feedback from multiple professionals on every single design was probably the number one thing that improved my skills and really helped me develop a strong foundation in designing content, which led to my job at the Arrow.

I’ve worked on a lot of cool projects throughout the past two years here. One of my favorites includes the CBD story I collaborated on with former news editor Brooke Holford, for which we drove around Cape Girardeau to businesses that sell CBD and collected photos, interviews and other insight. Another is the Haunting of Cape Girardeau story; for this one, the copy was written, but I struggled with art to use. I ended up driving to Old Lorimier Cemetery and other haunted locations for inspiration and was able to snap some photos that ended up working really well with the design. For the Rare Book Room story, I was able to tag along to the interview with three of my other coworkers including a photographer, writer and videographer. Each of these experiences have stretched my skills and taught me how to work in media outside of my comfort zone.

When I start working on a design, the first thing I do is identify the type of story and purpose for telling it. Is it investigative? A feature? Event coverage? I then identify what elements — photos, copy, graphics, etc. — are being included and how they compare to one another: do they need copy, photos, illustrations, infographics? The tone of the subject matter determines many of the decisions I make. Are we going to use warm/cold colors? Is it going to be simple or complex? What content needs to stand out?

Most of my initial ideas for designs never worked; on the Amber Marisa Cook spread, I had 16 different variations of the design before deciding on the one to print. Trial and error has been an essential part of my job and has taught me to trust the process and realize the importance of a fresh perspective.

In less than a month, I’ll be walking out of the Arrow newsroom. I could have never been able to prepare for my journey with this newspaper; from whipping up a graphic for a breaking news story to spending weeks designing a special section, the challenges it has presented me with have helped me realize you never know what doors may open in life. Working here has taught me to walk through and embrace each of them.