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Talking with Javier Errea - Part II

Lessons and challenges from organizing the world's top infographic event

April 11, 2017

We were unable to attend this year’s edition of the Malofiej Infographic World Summit and Awards, the 25th yearly gathering of the best infographic designers working in news outlets, agencies or as freelancers. If you are interested in Infographics, Pamplona and the University of Navarra is always the place to go in the end of March.

Nevertheless, we managed to catch up with the person behind the coordination of the Spanish chapter of the Society for News Design, our good friend Javier Errea, to talk a bit about the Malofiej and other events promoted by SNDe.

(photo: Javier Errea)

Throughout his career in journalism, Javier held several editorial positions in Spanish newspapers such as the “Diario de Navarra”, “Diario de Noticias” and the “Heraldo de Aragón”, before opening his own company, Errea Comunicación (you can check out some of their works right here on our gallery), where he offers a wide range of services for the media industry. He is a journalist with a degree in Information Science from the University of Navarra and post-graduate studies from the University of South Florida and The Poynter Institute for Media Studies. Currently he woks as an Associate Professor of Editing and Projects at the University of Navarra, has his own studio, Errea Comunicación ( and he is the president of the SNDe and director of SND to Mediterranean Europe.

Visualoop (VL) – Javier, 25 years of Malofiej… Can we already say there’s a “Generation Malofiej” spread across the world?

Javier Errea (JE) – After all this time I don’t know if I would dare to say that, a Malofiej generation, perhaps it’s presumptuous, but I do know that the Malofiej have been a decisive meeting point for one or even two generations of infographics designers. Around the Malofiej, real contacts were made, ideas are debated and first level job opportunities are filled. And even new couples!

VL – In our first interview with us, you highlighted several key moments in Malofiej history. This 25th edition has to be among those, right?

JE – People’s lives need representative moments, references on which to build and advance. We are primordially affective beings. Actually, the 25 edition is not that different from the 24 or the 26 that will come next year. But it has that symbolic value, yes.

VL – And this was actually an even more special occasion for you, since you were awarded the Alejandro Malofiej Award, only the third time it was ever given! I imagine that was a surprise!

JE – I had no idea what was being plotted behind my back and, truthfully, I did not quite know how to react when it was announced. I don’t like self-congratulating. I think my role in all this is that of coordinator or catalyst: to make the event continue to be that meeting point that so many graphic designers look for. I’m not even an infographic designer, so deep down the prize is debatable.

I will not deny that in these years my team and I have worked hard to make the Malofiej the consolidated event that it is today, but from there to receive that award … It overwhelms me. I appreciate it, of course, but it overwhelms me. Work can only continue. Prepare the edition now 26.

VL – There were a couple of new things this year. For instances, in addition to the brilliant “Show, Don’t Tell!” workshops, the event also offered a practical infographic workshop for university students, taught by Michael Stoll. Do you plan to continue to expand the range of activities during the Summit for the upcoming editions?

JE – Michael Stoll proposed the idea a few months ago and we thought it was great. All the merit is his. He proposed the idea, offered himself, set up the program, brought students from Germany who mixed with those from Navarra … The experience has been very positive. The 20 students in the workshop are satisfied. Of course, our intention is to polish some things and repeat, yes. We believe that it is a privilege to offer this type of activities to university students. And free!

VL – Overall, if you could choose one, what’s the most important lesson other events should take out from Malofiej, to develop such a faithful and engaged supporter base?

JE – We were talking about this recently. It is not easy to know how we have succeeded in creating that affinity. But today that is key. When there was no internet or social networks, the congresses were very important to access knowledge. There was no other way to know. Today, everything has changed. The works are well known. A congress must therefore be something else. And that is the difficult thing. In my opinion, for the success of such an event it must generate an emotional factor. Malofiej has it. Caring for it, pampering it, making the ones who comes here feel important, part of a community, is decisive.

VL – Another important event organized by SND-e, the ÑH Awards, also expanded beyond its original idea – supporting journalistic design in Spain and Portugal – to include, for the first time, submissions from Latin America. For our readers that are not as familiar with this event as they are with Malofiej, can you tell us a bit about it and this new expanded format?

JE – The ÑH have a wide range, I hope. The Spanish and Portuguese-speaking media market is huge. Our mission is to try to create that sense of community among them. These media companies share a language and many more things. This expanded competition wants to offer them the opportunity to see their work recognized from the knowledge of common languages, something that seems to me to be a fundamental differentiating aspect.

The competition had a successful participation in its first inter-oceanic edition. But we have much to improve as far as the congress is concerned. I recognize that it is difficult because we are talking about a very large geographical area that does not facilitate the movements. We are studying some formulas to bring the congress closer to different capitals. Unlike the Malofiej, we do not ask the professionals and their teans to come to us; we move to where they are. Mixing international speakers with national talent in each place. I would like to encourage all the media outlets in Spain, Portugal and Latin America, and in particular the Brazilians, to participate. We are open to any suggestions.

The Spanish and Portuguese-speaking media market is huge. Our mission is to try to create that sense of community among them.

VL – To close, Javier, how can anyone support Malofiej, the ÑH Awards, as well as any other activities of SNDe?

JE – The only way to support is by attending and paticipating. Sending works to contest and then attending the congresses. I know that is a big effort in many cases, and more today when the situation of the industry is what it is. In the end, it all depends on individual commitment. We can not continue to expect our media companies to cover this type of expenditure. I am a little pessimistic about it: unfortunately, they will do it less and less.

VL – Thank you so much Javier, and congratulations for all the success.

JE – Thank you!

 

Once again, we’d like to thank Javier for his time. Don’t forget to visit Errea Comunicación’s profile on Visualoop, and the official websites of the Malofiej Infographic World Summit and Awards and the ÑH Awards

Written by Tiago Veloso

Tiago Veloso is the founder and editor of Visualoop and Visualoop Brasil . He is Portuguese, currently based in Bonito, Brazil.

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