How do New York Times journalists use technology in their jobs and in their personal lives? Minh Uong, a visual editor for The Times’s business section, discussed the tech he’s using.

Can you explain your creative process for making and planning illustrations for The Times?

Being the visual editor for the business section, I’m responsible for providing artwork that illuminates stories that are hard to photograph. It’s a challenging task at times, since our section features articles with topics that are difficult to visualize. Try to think of images that relate to private equity, net neutrality or the trade deficit.

Recently, I had to art a story about fake Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg accounts on Facebook and Instagram that scam people out of their money.

I doodled my first thought in my sketchbook using a black Paper Mate pen showing people stealing and running away with images of Mark and Sheryl. Then I sketched a different concept showing a group of scammers hiding behind Mark and Sheryl masks.

My second sketch got approved. To finish the illustration would require some time to draw the masks of Mark and Sheryl. I was planning to use Adobe’s drawing program, Illustrator, and my old 10-inch Wacom tablet. But with only a few hours before our print deadline, I decided to pursue creating the art with photography instead, and needed to create props for people to hold during a photo shoot.

So I printed out 10 full-size faces of Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg on our color Canon copier-printer combo. I trimmed them with my X-Acto knife. Luckily, I had saved disposable chopsticks from my Chinese takeout orders, and they made perfect handles for the masks. I proceeded to Scotch tape all the chopsticks to the back of each mask.

After I finished with the props, I wrangled eight colleagues to be in our photo shoot. We went to our in-house photo studio in the basement, where our staff photographer tried several lighting techniques to capture the moody and surreal picture.

The beauty of that is the artists get to keep their original work. And since The Times only buys the first-time printing rights, all original artwork has to be sent back to its creators. I don’t miss having to repackage artwork to send back to people in the mail.



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