A few years ago, designer and illustrator Maria Fabrizio was struggling to find her purpose. She’d always been artistic and had earned a BFA at the University of South Carolina and an MFA at Virginia Commonwealth University, then started her own studio. But she was feeling stuck. Then the pope resigned and everything changed.
“I drew a simple vector image of the pope hat on a hat rack and I stuck it up on my blog,” she says. “It seemed like a really big deal since it hadn’t happened in centuries, and I thought the idea of ‘hanging up the hat’ was a quiet way to convey the news. A few people noticed [the drawing], and told me to keep doing it.”
She didn’t realize it at the time, but Wordless News had been born.
Maria soon started a blog for her new project of making daily drawings inspired by current events, then opened a Mailchimp account to send them straight to her followers’ mailboxes. She got a few subscribers at first, then got a whole bunch more when NPR featured Wordless News on Morning Edition in early 2014.
“It really became a big thing for my career,” Maria says. She had been doing mostly design work before, but now splits her time almost equally between design and illustration; she even started doing some editorial work for NPR, too.
“It’s been a crazy, stressful couple of years, but I’m so happy and thankful for the vision I’ve found in the project.”