Olivia Dupree: The creative chaos

Media Credit: Arielle Bader | Assistant Photo Editor

Each year, graduating editors are given 30 final column inches – “30” was historically used to signify the end of a story – to reflect on their time at The Hatchet, published in the final issues of the year.

Most things I’ve designed for The Hatchet were destroyed. Dead on arrival. Dumb from the start. Obliterated in the end.

The first graphic I created was reconstructed with sensible fonts, bolder colors and simpler shapes. My first front page was workshopped into oblivion, inching its way up from “OK.” All five versions of my recruitment photos were met with lengthy edits and revision emails.

The creative destruction happened on a program that behaves more like a rebellious teen than advanced design software, operating on an elderly Mac desktop at around 1 a.m.

Even though I had spent the previous two years learning the ins and outs of InDesign and committing Hatchet style to muscle memory, my first prodo running design was a dizzying blur of editor requests, coordinating content on an eight-turned-six-page paper and wincing at line misalignment and major front page errors next to a senior news editor who seemed to understand our software better than I did. The first issue of Volume 116 taught me that even as my heart explodes with anxiety, my fingers could still configure a new, last-minute culture page in a matter of minutes at 3 a.m. on autopilot. Issues back from break tested my temperament and attention to detail, irritated as a new, sassy SNE caught the careless mistakes that I should have.

Being design editor is all of that and more. It is selling your weekend away to puzzle as much content as you can fit onto a page, cajoling InDesign to cooperate every week, keeping calm when your desktop decides to shut down and erase all your unsaved work with it, staying up until 4 a.m. to pick the right CMYK shade of purple and struggling to be just as good as the design editors before me.

Arielle Bader | Assistant Photo Editor

When I got promoted to be The Hatchet’s design editor, I knew that’s what I was signing up for. What I didn’t know, though, was why exactly I had signed up. Though I spent my Sundays designing around reporters, I had no intention of becoming a designer or journalist.

But in the rubble of all of this creative chaos and constructive criticism, I’ve refined my graphic design abilities, gained confidence in myself and made some quality friends along the way. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of finishing a guide edition, the pride from successfully redesigning a top of a front page or seeing the Annual Conference branding you created plastered across the Marvin Ballroom.

The skills gained have been great, but what’s made The Hatchet worth it are all the memories made among passionate editors who kept me glued to a computer late into the night and the opportunity to pay forward the skill I have learned to the next generation of Hatchet designers.

It’s these editors – passionate, hard-working students pouring whatever free time they have into this publication – who are behind me stepping up to be design editor. It’s the deep conversations about everything from GW’s internship culture to whether or not cheesecake counts as soup. It’s teasing the news editors in between the occasional session of interview transcription and all the “smoke breaks” with the visuals editors from volumes past, crashed TPFTs to frantic, funny guide prodos. Perhaps most rewarding was watching the creative chaos wreak the best kind of havoc in all of these editors’ lives and seeing how this volume is growing up and together through the criticism and pressure, as I had.

I have The Hatchet’s editors to thank for tearing me apart – sometimes nicely, sometimes not but always constructively – and building me up into a better, more confident and eccentric version of me. I can’t wait to see what you all will do, this time from the sidelines.

To the editors who helped me navigate the creative chaos:

Zach Slotkin, your memory hasn’t died. The basement gang jams out to your playlists Sunday nights – the lingering Spotify we refuse to log out of for sentimentality’s sake. I’ll be eternally grateful for you suggesting team design to me off-handedly freshman year. I found it hard to live up to your legacy (Lizzie once said “Zach Slotkin is an institution,” and your 30 is awe-inspiring) but I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather have as a mentor and friend. Even now, it’s still humbling to have seceded the skill and expertise you racked up from two years in this position. I miss the great playlist building, the design brunches, hill lunch meetups, coffee runs, and the guide prodos with you by my side. The Peace Corps is so lucky to have you.

Anna, you basically taught me everything I know about Hatchet style and shortcuts, and I always admired the creative designs you would dream up for guides and promotional materials alike. I can only hope to have half the design talent and creativity you exhibited during your Volume 114 tenure. I would love to catch up over coffee. Thanks for #033b59!

Sam H., I must admit Volume 115 was initially weird without dependable Sam silliness and odd basement antics. You were the first person on staff who made The Hatchet really feel like something of a family outside of my design team bubble, and you continued to serve as inspiration for the energy I’ve tried to emit this volume in your absence. Thank you for all the great memories and hosting the TPFTs you let me crash.

Lillianna, as the first EIC I’ve ever been under, I’ve always been appreciative of your induction of me into the paper and the strong leadership that characterized your volume. I’ll eternally be grateful for that time you let me crash on your couch when I messed up my training flights.

Olivia A., of course you left the section in great hands, but when you graduated, I initially couldn’t imagine what photo was going to look like because I had always associated it with your leadership. In the face of turnover and last-minute assignments, you were the glue that kept the section together in Volumes 114 and 115. I admired your poise and unshakable sense of cool through it all. Thank you for all of your aesthetic feedback and assurances when I was learning the ropes.

Leah, from our shared SMPA electives to conversations about The GW Hatchet’s work culture, you’ve proven yourself to be one of – if not the – most thoughtful people on staff. You always have something kind to say and have raised my spirits more than you realize. It’s been a pleasure working and watching you grow through these years.

Meredith, you are so quirky and wild (I’m still shook over your tattoo!!). You have a superpower I’ve always wanted: lifting people’s spirits and livening up a room just by walking into it. Just know that we all used to pick on you at staff meeting because we feel that energy – also you’re just a lovable bean. Thank you for being unabashedly yourself, rocking Podcast and stepping up to the plate as Digital Manager. I hope you spend your last semester picking on Parth a little bit extra for me.

Dani, from the start sophomore year, we bonded over our Orange County roots and our investment around all things Anaheim Ducks. When your first impression of someone orients around the correct preference in hockey teams, you know they’re a keeper. In all seriousness, thanks for being such a sassy presence in the townhouse during the day and a silly addition to the basement gang in the night.

Tyler, even though you’re the Business Manager, I can count the times I’ve seen you since Volume 114 on one hand. We’re hardly close (the last time you saw me was in the townhouse – you pointed at me, said “I know your name” and confirmed that I was now, in fact, design editor), but I appreciate that it was you who successfully planted the idea in my head that perhaps being constantly stressed and overworked was not the best course of action in the midst of tearing Hershey Kisses wrappers on my laptop. I really needed that at the time. While you’re here, words cannot express how amused I am about the love languages quiz and how that in a roundabout way turned into the drunken Hatchet Holiday 2017 happenings with Anna.

Cayla, from the start, I knew you were a scammer. I fell prey to your prank calls many times, found myself impressed more often than not at your ability to weasle your way out of school deadlines, and betrayed my new EIC with soda instead of water upon your direction. Despite all that scamming, you still talked me out of buying a full page ad in the print edition with Kiran’s hedge fund money – which I consider. to be. the ultimate prank. – and that’s a testament to how much you care about this paper, even now. I always admired just how talented and devoted you were to The Hatchet – and how you seemed to balance an impossible workload with ease. Having such a familiar, sassy presence who knew InDesign so well was reassuring when I first transitioned into this position, and I still look back fondly on our occasional Data Analysis meet-ups sophomore year. Let’s grab Compass Coffee when you’re down here next!

Arielle Bader | Assistant Photo Editor

Liz, there’s a lot to say about the workload you balanced as Editor in Chief and the fun you brought to the basement, but what I’m particularly appreciative of is the energy you fostered throughout your tenure. Volume 115 transformed me from a timid underclassman, unsure of herself, to an experienced editor leading the design section who joked with Cayla and you along the way. You once told me that if I can’t believe in myself, I just need to believe in the people who entrusted me with that responsibility, a comment that carried me through the overwhelming stages of the creative chaos. Thanks for believing in my ability and being understanding of my shortfalls as I was transitioning to design editor. I’m grateful for your grace leading our volume, patience and belief in me.

Sarah R, it’s obligatory to pick the EIC for Question 10, but there are just so many traits and qualities about you to admire. I was initially worried how Volume 116 – with its new staff and structural changes – would turn out, but I sorely underestimated you and just how high-caliber of a head editor you continue to prove yourself to be. Even as you’re pulled in 20 different directions, you always find a way to make everyone feel welcome and lead with grace under pressure. I’m really going to miss the goofy way you talk into that microphone in your office, how your staff meetings always seem to turn into giggling fests within the first few minutes and the positive energy you uniquely bring into a space prone to burnouts. In particular, I’ve been particularly grateful for your kindness and patience you’ve reserved for me this semester, even when I haven’t deserved it. Thank you for coaxing me out to the scavenger hunt, letting me linger too long in your office, dealing with my sporadic email replies, the considerate words, asking me to lead the section for a semester longer than I thought I would, fostering such a positive culture and for the license you’ve given my team with the design of the print edition.

Kiran, from our first conversation at Hatchet Holiday your freshman year, I knew the Ops star baby – what with his juul habits and insane stories – was something special. As I got to know you a bit better, I learned that in actuality you were just standard Natty Lite… in all seriousness, I’m sad the design team got so good at making the opinions page work because it meant less Kiran cutting in the townhouse. You’re great company, have the hottest takes and shake things up in the townhouse. Please treat Sarah – and the Ed Board – well in my absence.

Kelly, beyond your sheer writing and copy-editing talent, I’ve always admired your diligence and calming presence – and appreciated how it contrasted with my own frantic energy as the basement grew hectic late into the night. Thanks for always being awake to catch the errors I miss and for understanding my angst of an early graduation date.

Emily R., during your time at The Hatchet, you were a strong presence that brought the basement together with hot pop culture conversation and even hotter takes. I learned so much from your formal graphic design background and appreciated the quality of your guide graphics through Volume 115. Thanks for the good ideas, improving the quality of Hatchet graphics, and holding the section up to high standards.

Alyssa, you were such a star child in Vol. 115, and it’s great you’ve found a way to balance the demands of an engineering course load with other extracurriculars. I’ll always look back fondly on that crazy Election Guide Page we designed last November, our impromptu summer brainstorming sessions, the times we’ve spent laughing about food discourse (Olivia’s deep dish pizza comment will live on in infamy) and 2018 Hatchet Holiday. Can’t wait to hang out with you in a couple weeks at this year’s version.

Katie, the confidence you exude, your crazy stories, wit, and thoughtful questions brought into hot seat sessions were all sorely missed in your absence, and I’m glad you found your way back to us in Volume 116. I remember I always looked forward to chatting with you at events last volume and appreciate the kindness and coolness you reserve for everyone you interact with on staff. Thanks for the Nero hospitality, and keep writing witty culture stories for Sidney!

Olivia C., I always joke that you’re a carbon copy of me, just a year delayed. After all, our similarities – same name, major, graduation time, and Hatchet trajectory – are uncanny. Like me, you’ve thrived from the creative chaos imposed on staff, but you are way more impressive than I could ever dream of being. I highly doubt that there’s any other person on staff who is more dependable than you despite the several different directions your other obligations pull you in. You may have felt unsure of yourself when that cursed email came around, but just a semester later, you’ve proven yourself more than ready, developing the skill set, initiative, time management, and disposition necessary to succeed. I’ve loved getting to know you – from the Christmas song-hating to the Jonas Brothers jam sessions and the future family cruise funeral – and I can’t wait to see where you’ll go with the section and beyond. Hopefully our friendship will extend outside the townhouse. Still shook over Hatchet Thanksgiving transgressions, but please keep in touch whenever you need to rant about a Poli Comm problem – or a problem who hates Poli Comm – and do. not. forget. about your nightly rhyme and whiteboard discourse responsibilities.

Arielle Bader | Assistant Photo Editor

Parth, hate to break the bit for a moment of sentimentality, but I do actually appreciate the eagle eye precision you bring to the paper. I couldn’t imagine my prodos without your sarcastic banter at staff meeting into late Monday mornings. It’s (annoying) impressive how much InDesign you’ve picked up in these past seventeen weeks, and I’ve appreciated your critiques, occasional compliments, and helping hand you’ve lent this volume – and I’m sure your assistant news editors and Sarah feel the same. Sort of hate the fact that you manufactured a bonding event to get my child one step closer to consorting with the enemy, but I guess I’ll live with the crippling cognitive dissonance now. Thanks for making my work – and this 30 – better.

Jared, the sheer amount of stories you’ve bylined (on the front page!) never cease to amaze me, and I can tell you’re going places, both in this paper and life-wise. I don’t go up to the newsroom nearly as much as I should, but when I do, your wit, company, and conversation – particularly about alignments, food (Chipotle > Sweetgreen), stress and friendship levels – are much appreciated. I’m glad a drunker version of myself broke past your initial shy boy veneer and became acquainted with the hard-working snarkiness so characteristic of the Jared I know now. On that note, there’s no person I would’ve rather had a deep conversation with multiple shots in on my 21st birthday – let’s have another one! Sincerely sorry about inadvertently abandoning you at the scavenger hunt (let the records show that I did earnestly try to reel you back in!), but looking forward to leveling up the point I lost post-grad.

Lizzie, it seems like every time I run into you – in or out of the townhouse – your head is consumed in something student life related, but you already know that. Anyone who’s even remotely aware of your existence on this paper knows how hard you work. What I want to emphasize though is how much I appreciate that dependable, go-getter energy so characteristic to you and how you take the time to spend some time and laugh with the basement gang, even as the work piles up. Please get some rest, send me all of your 2020 hot food takes, and remember that your value precedes your productivity, not the other way around.

Sidney, so often I forget that you’re only a sophomore because you lead the culture section with such style and class. Although we’ve had conversations where you’ve suggested otherwise, you’re such a calming, sweet presence in the basement, and I really couldn’t imagine my last semester down in the townhouse without you. Thanks for keeping me around, cultured and keeping the scalding tea you uncovered under wraps despite my section’s inexplicable disregard of pica. The good company – also that brief coffee addiction subsidization in exchange for resume design – is appreciated. If you’re already this badass as an underclassman, I can’t imagine how cool you’ll be by the time you’re writing your 30!

Danny, I’ve appreciated the time we’ve spent this semester getting closer, “smoke breaks,” wine nights, impromptu Captain Cookie and all. You’re so talented and a section head who’s fostered your freshmen into something of a videographer family. Hold onto your originality and dedication. I can’t wait to keep watching and cheering you on as you grow, this time from the sidelines. Adventure awaits!

Heidi & Dante, you two are both some of the most thoughtful, talented, and calming people on staff. I can’t wait to see how you two continue to grow the section and develop more skills in your demonstrated passions.

Emily M., although a certain someone questions the legitimacy of your section, the sheer amount of content you produce on such a tight turnaround is something to marvel at. Through it all, you’ve been calm, collected and casting side-eyes on the haters late into the night. Content-wise, it’s amazing how great of a writer you are and how many front page headlines you’ve snagged this semester. Teaching you the InDesign basics and laying out basketball guide – cursed cutouts, complex purple gradients and all – was honestly such a blast. Just know I’ll be following you vicariously through your dope nail Instagram account.

Alex W., even though you’ve had big shoes to fill, it seems like you lead the news photo section with talent and ease. I’ve enjoyed the many memories I’ve had by your side – from forcing Jack and you into writing up the food discourse to that Wawa run after the back-to-school kick-back – and just the crazy funny things you inadvertently say. Latest instance: “Is this the only liquor we have,” you say, at the huge handle of Svedka at a wholesome bonding event.

Arielle, I’ve cherished all of the time we’ve gotten to spend together, from partnering on the scavenger hunt and weaseling our way out of buying a hamburger to long chats about your class project ideas and photographing water – and more. You may be on the quieter side in the townhouse, but your talent speaks volumes. On that note, thanks for roaming campus and the city for these awesome photos! I hope you can forgive me for buying that cursed 2-liter water bottle.

Sarah U., from funny party happenings, crashed culture girl gang hangouts and a spontaneous half-basement gang Trails hike, the fun times, silly conversations, and constant crunchy vibe was a much appreciated addition in the townhouse. You’ve had a rough semester, but even through illness, you stuck it out – probably longer than you should’ve – and performed for The Hatchet, which spoke to your dedication and character. The townhouse missed you through your Hatchet hiatus, but I can’t wait to see what you do with IA and into our paper into next semester.

Jack F., you always say that you appreciate basement gang because although staff is forced to be there, at least everyone is surrounded by cool people. I just want you to know that you’re both poised to be the next shardgrove (a very big deal; see “Sam H.” shoutout above) and are also a wicked cool person who brings a fun-loving energy into staff. Thanks for stepping up when team photo needed you, even as your engineering coursework consumes your soul – don’t fail your classes! Please reinstate TPFT and keep enforcing the random/general Slack etiquette in my absence!

Molly K., I’ve always admired your sense of style, cultured mindset and the inexplicable sense of coolness about you (seriously! You’re cool! I asked Sidney how to better describe your cool, and she’s also at a loss for words). What’s even more impressive though is your dedication toward this paper while still keeping the best parts of your personality illuminated even in stressful situations. That one time when I was helping cut your story on a culture guide – and your struggle to find the right words to get rid of – showed just how passionate you are about the quality work you produce for this paper. I can’t wait to see just how you and Sidney will continue to improve the culture section.

Natalie P., although you’ve been such a great opinions writer throughout your college years, it’s been great inducting you as an official member of the basement gang this volume. I appreciate just how thoughtful and kind you are as a copy editor and the fun, delightful presence you bring to your work at night. I’m sincerely sorry for all of the typos/copy/style errors riddled in this piece right now but I truly appreciate the patience you’ve exhibited this far!

Jack L., even though I haven’t spent as much time with you as I’d like this semester, your talent, initiative, and collaboration with other sections is well-appreciated. As you continue to beautify our website, all I ask is that you remember your design team roots.

Hannah, although Kiran and you both have absolutely batshit high school stories, the two of you are so different, and the paper is truly better from the unique perspective you bring to it, politically and more. Beyond your background, your section continues to thrive from your strong voice, hot takes and leadership. Thank you for being the force that keeps Kiran in check and cartoonists in your section.

Ed, I’ve enjoyed getting acquainted with you in these past few months, from interactions at the unfortunate happenings of prom to much more sober Thanksgiving conversations with the lovely copy editors. Your light-hearted energy has entertained me and consistently brings much needed levity into the newsroom. Copy has big shoes to fill with Kelly gone – and internalizing every Hatchet and AP style rule is objectively a lot of work – but I know that you and Natalie will keep the quality of the section up and that you’ll thrive in this new role.

Belle, from Pokemon movie bonding to scattered conversations, it’s been delightful getting to know one of the sport team staples. Thanks for bringing such a kind spirit into the townhouse!

Ilena, though I failed to steal you, I’m still really impressed with your incognito design abilities and appreciative of the time you came to shadow guide edition in spite of our disorganization. You’re truly a jack of all trades and a gem that must be protected. The news team is really lucky to have you, but always know that Olivia C. will welcome you with open arms if you ever want to dabble on the creative side (or escape Parth – that’s an acceptable reason too).

Lia, of all the assistant news editors, I go back and forth on who has the hottest food takes – you or Shannon – most of the time settling on you. The categorizations your mind creates amaze me, and I’m sure that speaks to your quirky, fun-loving character. I’ve seen you in a tough situation at this paper, and through it all, you’ve kept a veneer of cool under an unreasonable amount of pressure, which – wow – is admirable. It’s been nice chatting and getting to know you – from your dedication to this paper to your sense of humor generally – in fleeting moments through The Hatchet. In my absence, learn to love (or at least update) LinkedIn.

Shannon, I feel like it must be noted that even though I gave Lia the hottest discourse takes award, you are a solid second. Truly all of news is unhinged, but you bring a level of nuance into your food distinctions that leaves me hysterically laughing. Honestly, conversations with you are just so refreshing in the weirdest ways – from elaborating on the absurd amount of blue floral in your wardrobe to mapping out our star’s benevolent authoritarian rise to Hatchet power. I’m impressed with the work you balance and the caliber you bring to your beat. Again, sorry but also not sorry? about stealing your star. I understand if you can’t forgive me in this trying time.

Zach Schonfeld, via the news team, I’ve learned that your life is dominated by the following: Boy Scouts, repping SMPA and The Hatchet – particularly the administrators for whom you generate affection and occasional pain, depending on the issue. It’s so impressive how dedicated and high-energy you are in The Hatchet newsroom despite all of the responsibilities you juggle. Although we’ve spent less time together than I would’ve liked, every interaction – from waiting an hour for Sarah’s surprise to those series of cursed videos filmed in Shenkman – have revealed just how eccentric and hilarious you are. The news team is lucky to have you – but do stop by in the basement whenever you’d like on Sundays if you ever get an inkling to partake in design.

Alec R., it’s a shame that we haven’t gotten too close this semester in spite of our shared class and all. Still, week to week, I found myself impressed with all of the headlines you’ve racked between both the sports and news sections as well as your intelligent contributions to our socratic seminar. Stay studious – and remember that as a sports reporter, you have a home amongst the basement gang if you choose to stop by.

Tiffany, honestly, you’re a star. Not only have you gotten the hang of InDesign so quickly and have rocked layouts these past weeks, you bring a fun, bubbly energy down to the basement gang Sundays while still picking up stories throughout the week. On top of all of the orgs and clubs you balance, I’m incredibly impressed with all of your passion projects, and I’m sure that you’ll have great ideas for our paper while still keeping the Poli Comm major streak among the layout editors. You’re going to do great things at this University – in The Hatchet and beyond – and I can’t wait to see what you produce in the PDFs Monday mornings.

Emma, your college agenda is the following: binge-watching “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” living SNL Papyrus, taking photo assignments, page layouts and food discourse completion. Finishing your finals? Irrelevant. In all seriousness, it’s been delightful having you in the basement these past couple of weeks. The basement gang loves having your talent and sass grace our presence Sunday nights. Let’s make some great memories at Holiday, and even though I won’t be able to write enough pages to earn your friendship before graduation, I hope a shout out in my 30 will do.

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