Rachael Graham Lussos is a professional writing instructor and PhD candidate in Writing and Rhetoric at George Mason University (GMU), where she also completed a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing.
While she earned her MFA, Rachael worked as a technical writer and editor on space and technology contracts. Gradually, her clients requested more visually appealing document design. Rachael bought the Adobe Creative Suite, took an InDesign course, and practiced designing flyers for poetry events and visual poems for her MFA classes. Collaborating with a space artist, Rachael developed space and technology documents that met her clients’ preferences for vibrant and useful data visualizations and layouts. After completing the MFA, Rachael transitioned to a proposal writer role, where she continued to design documents and graphics for national security proposals.
For the cover of the November 2018 special issue of Technical Communication on election technologies, Rachael submitted a design on the recommendation of GMU’s Dr. Isidore Dorpenyo, a co-editor of the special issue. Because Dr. Dorpenyo’s research involves international technical communication, Rachael chose to use a simple ballot design as an internationally recognizable symbol of an election. After reading the 2017 article by Dan Gillmor in The Atlantic about the dangers of electronic voting machines, she decided that the design also needed a human element and chose to include a human hand submitting a ballot.
Most of Rachael’s design work begins with an acknowledgement of her limits and a goal to learn one new thing. For the cover, Rachael acknowledged that the design would likely have to be two-dimensional, incorporating lots of straight lines and solid colors. However, to add the human hand, Rachael decided to learn how to illustrate an image using a photograph as a guide. To do this, she solicited the help of two people: a friend who lent her hand for the photograph, and a brother, who lent his new Cintiq tablet and provided a quick tutorial from his self-taught illustration knowledge. Thanks to her friend, her brother, Dr. Dorpenyo, and STC, Rachael expanded her design limits just enough to include a new illustration skill. To view the November 2018 special issue on election technologies, please visit www.stc.org/techcomm.
And, as a reminder, the deadline for upcoming submissions to the cover competition is 1 December.
For the February 2019 issue (a special issue on content strategy), we invite cover illustrations on the subject of the theory, teaching, and practice of content strategy.
For the May 2019 issue, we invite cover illustrations on the subject of finding your footing in the world of developer docs.
Cover illustrations might be diagrams, drawings, photographs, collages, infographics, cartoons, comic strips, or brief graphic narratives.
For either issue, please submit your cover illustration (approximately 20×20 cm or 8×8 inches) as a high-resolution (300 dpi or better) jpg file by 1 December 2018 to firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief explanation (100-200 words) of how your illustration addresses the cover subject. A five-member international jury of specialists will organize anonymous review of the submissions and choose each issue’s cover illustration. Honorable mentions will be published inside the journal.