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Meet the Team, Graphic Design Manager – Olivia Desianti

6 September 2023

Tell us about your journey into the role of Graphic Design Manager of The West Australian?

I went into graphic design with the dream of going into advertising. I wanted to tell a story with my designs. And I thought advertising would be the career for that. That is, until I got a job in an advertising company and absolutely hated it.

Fortunately, a former lecturer of mine mentioned there was a job going at Herald Sun as a junior features designer. He thought I would be a good fit with my love of all things pop culture. I got the job and really enjoyed the variety of work that came across my desk. There I learned from the best, and really honed in on my skills.

Personal life took me back to Perth and I slid straight into a similar role at The Sunday Times. There I started to be more involved in the general news as well as features. I still remember my first Page 1 – a convincing photoshop/illustration of Colin Barnett as Uncle Sam.

I then took a bit of a break in 2016 to travel the world and to explore all my creative options. I grew my side hustle (you could find me at the time at various comic cons selling my artworks) and worked with an actor from the TV show Supernatural on his crazy design ideas.

As I was about to come back to Perth, I heard from a colleague that The Sunday Times was merging with The West Australian. I reapplied for my job and was rehired as the designer of STM Magazine. A couple of years later, Anthony plucked me out from there to be a full-time news designer – to create his page 1 visions.

I first got into design because I wanted to tell a story, and this job is just that – it’s visual journalism.


What does a typical day in your role look like?

Every day is so different in this role. Some days I’m able to reserve the whole day for more long-term projects and some days I’m glued to the production of tomorrow’s newspaper. Sometimes the day starts at 11:30, some days it starts at 3pm. On rare days, it starts with a phone call at 6am.

On a typical day, morning and early afternoon are usually reserved for managing various projects, managing the design team, problem solving and meetings with other departments. After the news meeting at 2pm, I start concentrating on the production of tomorrow’s paper. Going through all the pages to make sure everything is on track. The production tends to ramp up from around 4pm. Front page design generally gets started around 6pm (or later!) and all hands are on deck until the first deadline of 7-7:30.


What is one of the biggest news stories you’ve covered in the past year or so that has captivated readers?

Matildas — I was working during THAT penalty shoot-out. Everyone in the office was glued to the TVs. I remember squatting under my table with my hands on my face – we were all SO STRESSED. Our page 1 was dependent on the result! When Cortnee Vine got the goal, everyone cheered and rushed back to our computers to scour through the photos while our adrenaline was still pumping. It was an incredible moment – it was a moment that the whole of Australia went into Matildas fever.


What has been your favourite design over the past few years?

I had quite a lot of fun with this design of the federal budget. The brief was “GREAT EXPECTATIONS”, and the idea of the classic Penguin book came from it. I worked with our amazing illustrator Don Lindsay to create this design, and the caricatures made it come alive.

If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?

Everything is temporary. Say yes to the things you want to do.