SINGAPORE - A light-hearted infographic chronicling the transformation of Wonder Woman over 80 years and a two-page spread highlighting 21 key news events of the year are among The Straits Times projects lauded for their design and visual storytelling in a global contest.
This year, ST clinched seven awards of excellence at the Best of Print News Design competition, which is known as the design Oscars of the media industry.
ST's triumphs also include an infographic on what the space race between billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos means for space tourism, a photo series capturing the Christmas festive mood amid the Covid-19 pandemic and a feature on Team Singapore athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The results were announced over the weekend by the Society for News Design, which organises the annual event.
Winners this year were selected by 27 judges around the world who reviewed about 3,500 entries across 11 categories. The New York Times, The Washington Post and the National Geographic magazine are among key winners.
On ST's Art department clinching an award of excellence in the staff portfolio category, ST's art editor Lee Hup Kheng, 58, said the accolade is a testament to the strong visual team that can take on the global arena of print news design.
"Last year, we went for the 'wow' factor, with guns blazing, for our visual storytelling using all the resources we had at hand. We were pushing the boundaries and it paid off," added Mr Lee.
In the ST infographic titled 80 Years Young And Still A... (Star), which marks the 80th anniversary of Wonder Woman's debut, executive infographic journalist Billy Ker, 34, said the main challenge was condensing 80 years of the superheroine's history into two pages.
He and visual journalists Bryandt Lyn, 35, and Lee Yu Hui, 28, took around three weeks to do up to 80 costumes in paper cut-up style digitally, which were also used in a stop-motion animation.
The same tenacity was displayed by Mr Ker, Mr Lyn and deputy art editor Simon Ang, 56, when working on a feature showcasing the multiple faces of Marvel character Loki, which was published before a spin-off series streamed on Disney+.
"There was not much source materials to go on despite the hype of the popular villain so we had to do hours of research and make some intelligent guesses," said Mr Ang.
Their hard work paid off, as four of the five predictions the team made were right, said Mr Ker, who joked that he is the "resident geek" in the Art department.
For instance, the team predicted that a female version of Loki appears in the series.
Proving that news need not be just black and white, senior executive infographics journalist Chng Choon Hiong, 44, opted for colourful hand-drawn cartoons to wrap up the 21 major events of the year, from the grounded Ever Given container ship blocking the Suez Canal to the birth of the first panda cub born in Singapore.
While piecing the news items in chronological order was challenging and required repeated fine-tuning, Mr Chng did not neglect to inject some fun into the illustrations such as former United States president Donald Trump getting chased by a peach to represent his second impeachment.
The same creativeness was also shown by executive photographer Gavin Foo, 42, whose series of shots on the Christmas decorations around Singapore were done with a slow shutter speed to capture the moving lights.
He went to about eight locations over four nights to take pictures of the festive scenes.
"The malls' festive displays were more muted compared to pre-Covid-19 days but I added the effects because I wanted to capture the Christmas spirit even amid the pandemic," he said.
The infographic titled Space, the new travel spot started as a creative side project in 2018 by senior executive infographics journalist Cel Gulapa, 61, who added more illustrations as the space race evolved over the years.
Together with executive artist Marlone Rubio, 45, the duo envisioned the zero-gravity moment in Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' rocket Blue Origin when it blasted off to space last July and explored what it means for space tourism.
Mr Warren Fernandez, editor-in-chief of SPH Media Trust's English, Malay and Tamil Media Group and ST editor, said: "We have been looking to tell stories in new ways, using strong visuals and interesting concepts to engage our audience.
"So this strong body of work, across a wide range of topics, is something we think our audiences will enjoy. We're glad it's been recognised by our peers in the industry and stacked up well against some of the best."