“I just didn’t love what I had been working on for most of the two hours I get to design our A1,” he told Moos by e-mail. “To be honest, I’m still waiting for the email telling me my publisher’s head exploded when he saw it.”
Lawson, who has been with the Maysville, Kentucky, USA, newspaper for [almost 5] years, had no newspaper experience when he started out. But after working on inside pages — and a stint at Disney — he became head of pagination one year ago.
The recently-redesigned newspaper, published 6 days a week, with a day off on Sundays, has a circulation of about 8,501 and is distributed in 7 counties in the region.
In a recent email interview with this blog in Taiwan, where we had been attracted to Lawson's work from Ms Moos' heads up, ahove, Ian took some time to answer our questions.
INTERVIEW HERE ***************
DAN BLOOM: How did you get into page making for newspapers? What was your
career and college student trajectory? Are your parents artists?
Were you exposed to art as a teenager? How your KEEN EYE
that is catching eyeballs nationwide, worldwide even, with your front pages?
IAN LAWSON: I kind of snuck my way in. I was familiar with adobe
photoshop and my newsppaper, the Ledger Independent here, needed
someone who was able to work with it. So I sort of wandered through
the rest and learned the page design part in about a week. Although I
was horrible at it at first.
My parents aren't artists at all. I became interested in art in the
fourth grade of elementary school as a kid because I loved watcing
"The Simpsons." I started to draw them when I was in fourth grade and
I began to get a bit of attention from my classmates -- and that was
I went to college for one year to study computer programming, but I
quickly realized it was not for me and dropped out -- which leads me
back to the first part of my answer above!
DAN BLOOM: After your MLK and Jobs and Gadaffi front pages, you have
lots of national media attention, at least, from newspaper blogs
and websites. How does this make you feel? Did you ever think this
IAN LAWSON: It's defiantly fun. It's always nice to hear compliments
on your work. But honestly, no, to answer your question, I never
thought our little newspaper here would be featured on several design
[NOTE: Mr Lawson just turned 31 back in May. He grew up moving back
and forth between Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.]
DAN BLOOM: Which newspapers and magazines influenced you as you
growing up, in high school and later on as am adult?
IAN LAWSON: I've always read comic books and magazines for as long as
I can remember.
''Rolling Stone'' has always been a favorite magazine for me. And
Wired, spin and Time are others I enjoy.
My favorite newspaper is The Virginian-Pilot out of Norfolk, Virginia.
Its design is second-to-none.
DAN BLOOM: Your newspaper there has circulation of around 8000, and
yet your work is
getting national attention
from designers and newspaper editors -- worldwide! Have any offers for future
jobs come in?
IAN LAWSON: No, so far, no offers for any jobs. Unfortunately, as you
know, newspapers are having a hard time as of late. So being in a
smaller market probably is big help for our publication.
DAN BLOOM: What are your newsroom colleagues and bosses saying about
attention the Ledger Independent is now getting nationwide?
IAN LAWSON: I think they are happy for me and for the attention given
to our little newspaper.
I think it shows our ''home office'' out in Iowa that even the little
guys can make a big splash in the world!
DAN BLOOM: In 20 years, where do you want to be and what do you hope
to be doing?
IAN LAWSON: I wish to be healthy and happy with my wife wife and son.
Hopefully, someplace warm and still working in a graphic design role
for either a newspaper or a magazine.
DAN BLOOM: Do you ever do you dream at night about front pages while you
IAN LAWSON: Funny you should ask! I actually had a dream just last
night about whether or not my most recent frontpage covering the
earthquake in Turkey would make the new newseum.org's top ten. And it
DAN BLOOM: In your opinion, what is the purpose of a newspaper's
front page, from your perspective as a page maker?
And also from your own understanding of readers needs?
IAN LAWSON: I look at the front page as a way of grabbing people's
attention. To make them want to stop and look while it's sitting there
on the rack. To make them want to pick it up and take it home with
them. To get them to stop and take some time to slow down and read.
Everything is going digital these days. It just make me sad to think
of a world with no physical books or newspapers or magazines.
DAN BLOOM: What are your future plans?
IAN LAWSON: I guess my future plans are to keep trying to do what I
love, anyway I can.
DAN BLOOM: Thank you, Ian, for taking the time to answer these
IAN LAWSON: Thank you so much for the interview and all you kind words.
****Note: Newspaper design pundit Charles Apple wrote about Lawson's genius here as well.