Illustration, Infographics, Newspapers

Remembering Peter Sullivan

Notebook 17 January 2016 | NEWSPAPERS | INFOGRAPHICS


I’ve been helping with some teaching on the excellent Design for Publishing course at Norwich University of the Arts (NUA). The students have been set a project by Gordon Beckett, the Design Editor of The Sunday Times, that requires them to redesign pages of The Sunday Times print and digital editions. It’s made me think back to those glory years of The Sunday Times in the late 60s, 70s and 80s when the paper (and magazine) was renowned for its investigative journalism, great photography and strong design, under the editorship of Harold Evans. A highlight for me each week were the brilliant infographics drawn by the illustrator and graphic designer, Peter Sullivan. His drawings would explain the sequence of events in a major news story and would really help to bring that story to life – such as how the passengers and crew were rescued from the Zeebrugge ferry disaster in 1987 (above) and how the Chilean president Augusto Pinochet survived an ambush and assassination attempt in 1986 (below).

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Peter Sullivan died in 1996. You can read more about his work for The Sunday Times in an article that appeared in Eye magazine here (issue 82, winter 2012, infographics special). And if you’re interested in finding out more about the campaigning, investigative journalism that The Sunday Times became famous for, there is a documentary film called Attacking the Devil (being released on 22 January) that focuses on the newspaper’s battle to win compensation for thalidomide victims back in the 60s and 70s.

Newspaper infographics these days, tend to be maps, cut-aways, bar charts and so on, rather than a graphic that explains an unfolding story as with Peter Sullivan’s drawings. However, I have found this good example from a 2012 edition of Toronto’s National Post newspaper. It’s the story of a woman who survived a snapped bungee jump rope…

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