Amanda Montañez

Graphics Editor


Scientific American

Scientific American, the oldest (founded 1845) continuously published magazine in the United States, covers the most important and exciting research, ideas and knowledge in science, health, technology, the environment and society.

So you can imagine how excited we were to catch up with Amanda Montañez to hear about a new position within the Graphics Group at the magazine.

Alright, let’s start 🙂

SG: Amanda - what’s your short 3 sentence bio?

AM: My name is Amanda Montañez. I’m based in New York City where I work as a graphics editor at Scientific American. You can find me on Twitter as @unamandita.

SG: How would you describe what Scientific American does?

AM: Scientific American is a science magazine aimed at a general audience. We publish news, analysis, and feature stories that cover all areas of science.

SG: How would you describe your group at Scientific American?

AM: The graphics team consists of my colleague Jen (Jen Christiansen @ChristiansenJen)  and me. We are part of the art team, which also includes a creative director (who oversees the whole team and also art directs the print magazine), an art director for the website, two full-time photo editors, and three multimedia editors.

SG: How would you describe your role at Scientific American?

AM: I produce and art direct information graphics, which often take the form of charts, but also include maps and explanatory diagrams. I work primarily on graphics for news stories that run on our website, as well as Advances, which is the news section of the monthly magazine. And sometimes I work on graphics for feature articles or our Graphic Science page, although my colleague Jen typically leads those projects.

SG: What's positively surprised you about working in data visualization at Scientific American?

AM: It’s amazing how much I learn every day working in this field! And it’s great to feel the appreciation of scientists when I help to translate their work for a non-expert audience.

SG: What do you wish someone would have told you before you started in data visualization at Scientific American?

AM: I didn’t have any journalism background when I started in this role, so it would have been great to get a crash course in some of the journo jargon! I also had limited experience working in print media, so I learned a lot on the job about designing for print versus web.

SG: You/Scientific American are hiring a Summer News Graphics Intern. How would you describe the role?

AM (& Jen from Slack): We are seeking applicants that have an interest in science, health and environmental journalism, and an ability to gather, analyze, and visualize data. The intern will be fully integrated into our editorial team and contribute to our award-winning coverage of science discoveries, science policy, public health, social science, technology, and insights and innovations that matter. (NYC/hybrid. Applicants must demonstrate the right to work in the US.) Comfort with Adobe Illustrator is a must. More details:

SG: Why is the Scientific American hiring for this role?

AM: We have had great success in past years with our editorial internship, which focuses on text-based news coverage. We are now expanding the internship program to include other editorial departments, including graphics. We are excited to hire someone who can help us strengthen our news coverage and engage our audience with clear, timely, and beautiful graphics.

SG: What will the day to day be like (who do they interact with, what tools do they use, who else is on the team, etc)?

AM: Our interns are fully integrated into the newsroom and interact with all editorial staff, including news editors, copy team, and other members of the art team. Daily activities include attending editorial meetings to discuss news coverage, pitches, or upcoming stories; researching and producing graphics for news stories, and perusing press releases for potential stories to cover graphically. The graphics intern may also reformat print graphics in feature articles for desktop and mobile viewing in the digital issue. They are welcome to use whatever tools they prefer for gathering and analyzing data, as well as initial stages of design, but final files should be built in Adobe Illustrator.

SG: What preparation would be important for a role like this?

AM: It’s a great idea to check out how different publications (including, but not limited to, Scientific American) use graphics in their news coverage, especially for science stories. Find good examples of responsively designed graphics and consider what makes a graphic successful in mobile, desktop, and print formats. It’s also important to be fluent with Illustrator (and other Adobe tools like Photoshop and InDesign are a plus as well).

SG: Thank you so much for all of this great information - the Summer News Graphics Intern sounds like an amazing opportunity!

SG: One last question: What was the last data visualization article/book that you read?

AM: Although I haven’t read it cover-to-cover yet, my newest data viz-related book is Building Science Graphics by my colleague Jen Christiansen! And the last article I read was this piece on data viz accessibility for blind users, by John Cassidy.

SG: Amanda - thank you so much for the chat and good luck with finding a great intern! If you’re reading this - please make sure to apply to the internship here -> by March 10th, 2023.

Thank you!

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