megan alison mccrink

    The Children of 9/11 are About to Vote

art direction, design, production

This story was part of POLITICO Magazine’s “The Friday Cover” series. The writer interviewed young adults who were born on 9/11/2001. The story fell under seven chapters that focused on topics including 9/11 itself, mass shootings and the pandemic. 

Read it here.

Art Direction

One of the aspects of the story that the writer emphasized was how these people grew up in a post-9/11 America. They didn’t know an America without this event looming over them constantly. So, for the concept, I wanted to depict the “shadow of 9/11” throughout the illustrations in the piece.

I needed an illustrator that could ground each piece/topic so they had an equal sense of importance. I also wanted smart concepts that could broadly encapsulate each topic while tying into the overall shadow theme.

I chose to work with Marina Muun. I love how striking and thoughtful her illustrations are and she has a knack for creating the perfect color palette.  

Lead; Illustrations by Marina Muun

From sketch to final, I collaborated closely with Marina to strike the right balance with the illustrations. We worked to scale back some sketches that felt a bit too dark.   

“Wars Overseas” spot illustration
“The Pandemic” spot illustration

“Awakening to Politics” spot illustration 
“War at Home” spot illustration

“The Protests” spot illustration
The final illustrations overall are reflective, letting readers think back on their own life experiences.

Each spot illustration ties in the idea of a “shadow” with either an actual shadow, or a silhouette.  

For photography, I decided to keep all pictures in black and white to let the illustrations stand out even more. 

The Build

This story was built in POLITICO‘s CMS system, with layout planning beginning four days ahead of deadline. I didn’t have a draft of the story until the day of deadline, so strategic planning was needed to make sure this story was visually well-told. 

I talked with the writer to get a good idea of the elements needed in the story and drafted out a rough wireframe approach.

Then, I took these elements and coded them out with HTML as generic embeds in the CMS. 

Once I had my general pacing laid out, I added in CSS styles into a style sheet. 

This story is responsive. I always consider general breakpoints too. I take this into consideration while building out my CSS styles.

The Details

For this story’s layout, there were a couple simple, but significant parts that needed to be weaved into the story. 

Like the illustrations, I wanted the layout of each section to have equal weight and feel special. I decided to place the illustration on colored backgrounds to give it more presence on the page, and look like the first page of a chapter in a book.

I also wanted to intoduce each person in the story in an easy, streamlined way. I decided that giving readers an overall view first on where they’re from would be best. Then, I’d introduce their names and faces, for more detail, in a sidebar.

For in the story itself, I repeated some of the details in the overall sidebar. I did this on the person’s first mention in the story.
With this, the reader could easily refer back to the sidebar.  

For the lead, I utilized some javascript to create a fade-in effect. The subtle effect signals that this piece is different from other pieces on the site.