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JMM 622: Profile II – National Geographic Magazine


Juan Velasco and Fernando Baptista

Juan Velasco is an award-winning art director of the National Geographic magazine. He was a graphics reporter for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo in Madrid, and later became the graphics art director for The New York Times from 1998 to 2001.

Velasco owns a business called 5W Infographics, from which he has done graphics redesigns for newspapers such as Le Monde in France and Tribune de Geneve in Switzerland.

Velasco stated the following in his interview with Professor Cairo (which I loved) regarding information graphics: “Good illustration graphics, in addition to being often the best way to tell a story, show enormous amount of data. They just display it differently than a quantitative data visualization.”

Fernando Baptista is also from Spain and works for the National Geographic magazine as a senior graphics editor. Baptista started working for El Correo in Spain in 1993, and worked there for 14 years, until he moved to Washington, D.C., in 2007. He made various art reconstructions for different museums in Spain, and made graphics and illustrations for various books. For six years, Baptista was an Associate Professor of information graphics at the University of Navarra and in the Master’s of Journalism program of El Correo.

Baptista’s definition for infographics includes the following (which I found particularly interesting): “Infographics tell stories that photos and text cannot do. My graphics are illustrated, but everything has a reason to be, always approved by the experts. In many cases we generate totally new content, and that is hard.”

At National Geographic magazine, in order for the visualizations to be the most precise, designers need to visit the locations of what they are going to design, which I thought was magnificent… and very expensive. After they have visited the location, they can spend as long as five weeks per illustration.

Below is an image of Fernando Baptista as he photographs one of the partial models of the Basilica of the Holy Family.


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