Gchatting with Jennifer Daniel

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Bloomberg Businessweek’s graphics director on pictograms, clowns, and outsourcing sex ed to Yahoo! Answers

11:44 am Michael: Hey, Jennifer.

11:46 Jennifer: hello hello!look at me i’m typing in REAL TIME11:47 Michael: Whoa! (Though you might have a Gchat autoresponder.)Jennifer: “your IM is important to me. please hold”11:48 Michael: Well, I’d love to interview the automated Jennifer Daniel or the real one, if now is a good time.Jennifer: yes i love the gchat11:50 quick meeting but i’ll be right back 🙂———–12 minutes12:02 pm Jennifer: back!12:05 Michael: So I interviewedRichard Turley [Bloomberg Businessweek’s creative director] a month ago,and he brought you up as one of the reasons why the magazine is able totell stories so well.12:06 He said: “We have this insanely good graphics director calledJennifer Daniel who we kind of stumbled on accidentally. She’s just kindof crazy. She doesn’t respond to briefs in the same way as a lot ofpeople do. She doesn’t really have a very conventional head on hershoulders.”Jennifer: HA HAHe’s very kind to say that.12:07 The first time Richard emailed me was sort of like magic12:08 JENNIFER DANIEL YOU ARE CRAZY AND I AM GOING TO CALL YOU RIGHT NOW12:09 and then my phone rangand he hasn’t been able to get rid of me since12:12 Michael: If you don’t have a conventional head on your shoulders, I’m curious how you’d describe the one you have.Jennifer: Pretty.That’s what my mom says at least.12:13 No really, i mean I’m not surei don’t do a lot of self-reflectionMichael: I found this quote from you: “I have no idea what I am doing and I often say or do wildly inappropriate things.”12:14 Jennifer: hahahahaha12:17 I guess I try to keep things interesting. I am a slave to making people laugh.12:18 It’s much easier to get someone interested in content they aren’tfamiliar with if you hoodwink them into thinking it’s entertainingwhen in actuality it’s about an old rich fat manMichael: Ha haJennifer: I don’t mean I’m trying to FOOL anyone and I don’t want to be a clown12:19 clowns are NOT FUNNYI try to think what is interesting, what is provocativeand getting someone to think and laugh then that resonates more12:20 also it reflects well on me. Like I am smart too!———–17-minute aside on alchemy, metalsmiths, cheese, 13th-century Italian poets, and Bob Dylan12:37 Michael: Some elements reappear week to week—the Neurath-ish figures, the arrows—but in very different ways.12:38 I guess what I’m wondering is how you see the visual language of the magazine.Jennifer: Oh sure, people have been using arrows though since cavemen days 🙂I guess the magazine visually isn’t divorced from the content12:39 they really have a similar attitude and approachThe magazine can be read a couple of waysflipping through it, big numbers, dramatic photos, grabby headlinesyou get a skim of the weekthe structure is set up for people with the attention span of Bart Simpsonbut then you can sit down with it and study itstudy the chartslike Lisa Simpson12:40 (to be honest the bart simpson and lisa simpson analogy i stole from Matt Ericson at the Times)12:44 Michael: Have you always been drawn to pictograms?I can’t always tell which illustrations are yours—I’m guessing they’re mostly the uncredited ones.12:46 Jennifer: Well, I like pictogramsbecause they are familiarworking with a visual language that people knowand then fucking with itgiving it a twist to hopefully say something newit’s being able to find something everyone has noticed but not been ableto articulate that I guess I try to do with my illustrations12:47 Jennifer: Yeah, in the magazine I graffiti the issue, pick up pages, add little things here and therelike a fairy illustrator

Richard calls them “jennifers”

———-Jennifer eats lunch

12:55 Michael: This is Print’s “power” issue, so I wanted to ask a hard-hitting question.———-She has a salmon-and-cheese sandwich1:00 Michael: Who/what do you think is the most important person/thing in the design world today?Jennifer: Jeeze!Designers take themselves so seriously!1:01 I think google imagesOr maybe yahoo answersMichael: What’s the best question you’ve asked Yahoo Answers?1:02 Jennifer: Well i went roller skatingand i held hands with a boyand the next day i’m pregnant.


Photograph by Ross Mantle

Visit Jennifer Daniel at www.whatwouldjenniferdo.com and httpcolonforwardslashfor