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Marcelo Duhalde at Malofiej 23

The challenges of producing infographics in a cultural and political environment such as Oman

March 19, 2015

So, it has finally begun! Opening the first day of this year’s Malofiej Infographic World Summit, our good friend Marcelo Dunhalde, from Chile, who’s work we had the pleasure to feature here on Visualoop, a couple of years ago.

Working as graphics Assistant Editor in the Times of Oman (in English) and Al Shabiba (in Arabic) since 2013, where he previously spent some time as a graphics artist for Muscat Media House, Marcelo started his career in 1996, having worked in several newspapers such as “La Tercera”, “El Metropolitano”, “El Mercurio” in Chile, and “El Nuevo Día” in Puerto Rico. He started his own company as well, in 2011, and teached Visual Journalism at the Universidad Católica de Chile.

Portfolio of the Week - Marcelo Duhalde
The featured portfolio of Marcelo Duhalde

Back in 2013, Marcelo talked with us about his experience over at the Times of Oman: “It’s a very interesting and talented group. It can be compared with a creative workshop always publishing outstanding pieces. This way to work has given to Times of Oman and Shabiba newspaper more than one hundred awards in SND and Malofiej the last 2 years”. In addition to Malofiej and SND awards, Marcelo’s work has also been recognized by WANIFRA (Asian Media Awards) and the Inter American Press Association.

In his talk, Marcelo started by emphasizing the “spark” moment, when ideas appear, and the challenges of transforming those ideas into actual pieces of information design, specially in a country Like Oman. There are several governmental restrictions to what you can cover- actually the word used by his editors is ‘sensitive’ -, so it’s rare to see breaking news pieces, or data-driven stories in topics that might spark some controversies, like politics or religion.

That’s the reason why we see so many great projects around “light” subjects, such as sports, local history and culture, and his favorite section, Miscellaneous, where he and the team (currently composed by three infographic designers and three illustrators) have a good amount of freedom to propose topics to be depicted visually, many times in new, experimental ways.

The fact that Marcelo said that he often decides first what graphic elements not to use, as a way of pushing himself to develop other solutions, caused, of course, a bit of controversy, since it somehow ‘breaks’ the mantra that “form follows function”. Nevertheless, like Alberto Cairo said, it’s a “school” that has some enthusiasts.

Below are some of the infographics Marcelo showcased in his presentation:

(image: Times of Oman/Al Shabiba)
(image: Times of Oman)
(image: Times of Oman)

The overall impression was that the limitations, in terms of journalistic freedom, associated to cultural and religious constraints, are essentially “compensated” – at least in some sense – with beautiful, visual appealing graphic solutions. The team over at the Times off Oman really had to learn how to do that.

Yo can follow Marcelo’s work in his NewsPageDesigners’ profile and on Behance, and connect with him on Twitter (@mduhalde96).

Written by Tiago Veloso

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