Carly Johnson: NSPA Designer of the Year Portfolio


Jena Weber

2022 Knight editor in chief Carly Johnson leads the editorial team during the initial theme planning of the book in September.

If you had told me this book was actually going to be finished before the summer, I would’ve thought you were crazy. Spending most of my yearbook career online gave me a lot of time to think about how I wanted my last book to go, and this book couldn’t have represented that more. I am convinced that being more organized to finish the book on time, finally working in person with staff, and actually seeing the faces of everyone made this year successful.

With this book, I wanted to create a traditional, yet unique book that represented the new and old of McCallum. I chose to use our school colors throughout the book in order to give the students a sense of comfort again, much like how many feel about coming back to the building. For me, I set a personal goal for the book to illustrate the joy of being together again while also hinting at a sense of sarcasm that the year has brought. I wanted nothing less than for this book to honor the class of 2022, who haven’t been in person since their sophomore year, but also show the current freshman and sophomore classes what our school and community is really made of.

Throughout the year, I was finally able to experience the joy of being back together again. As I was able to experience making a book without much coverage opportunities in 2020-2021, this year allowed me to realize the things people really wanted to see. Everyone missed seeing people without masks on, pep rallies with enthusiastic seniors, sold-out theater performances, and so much more. This understanding of what the McCallum community truly wanted to see, made me grow as a designer because I was able to use that desire to create enticing pages that included both accurate writing, and an enticing design.

Improving my design skills allowed me to understand the importance of all the elements of creating a book, instead of just focusing on one of them.

As editor-in-chief, I felt like I made some sort of edit on every page of the book. However, whether it was as simple as adding a comma in a caption, or as complicated as rearranging the spread to better fit our theme, it was always a group effort. This book would not have been successful without the entire staff. My right-hand man, Noah Cirkiel, always caught the mistakes that I didn’t and I felt like I could rely on him for anything. My advisor, Jena Weber, always came with clever ways to take any page to the next level. Along with the whole staff, who always brought new coverage to the table and brought success to this year’s book.

Despite this year’s circumstances, I believe my peers around me allowed me to grow the most as a designer as I was constantly inspired by them, and always learning. I never felt like I couldn’t ask for help, because I knew someone was always willing to step up which is why I couldn’t have done any of this without the huge community behind me.

Finishing this book has been every range of emotion from frustrating and stressful, to sentimental and gratifying. I can confidently say this has been my best year as not only a member of The Knight, but as a journalist and leader. Aside from working so hard on the book, I learned to take advantage of challenges rather than be afraid of them. Improving my design skills allowed me to understand the importance of all the elements of creating a book, instead of just focusing on one of them. This yearbook gave me the opportunity to remember the importance of community and to never give up, even on the cloudy days.