The trials and tribulations of Graphics Editor

Katya Zakar | Photo Editor

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Despite being The Mercury’s Graphics Editor, I will write my farewell, not draw it. My two years at The Mercury encapsulate a wide range of emotions and my journey has been, as Editor-in-Chief Fatimah Azeem said, “riveting.” 

My Mercury lore began in August 2022, when I joined the publication as a staff photographer. My responsibilities included spending $20 on photogenic food and taking photos of every nook and cranny of a cafe, only for the editorial board to publish a photo of a paper cup display. Initially, I also had to drive to downtown Dallas to snap some shots of a historic house, including its beautiful interior, only for them to publish the most boring front-facing angle of the building. Another task was shooting the American Idiot musical at the UTD theater. There were so many photos of the actors’ over-the-top expressions and striking movements, only for them to use the lamest full-stage photos. Sometimes, I wondered if I should remove all the boring shots before submitting the images so they couldn’t keep choosing them. 

Fast forward to December of the same year, where the previous Graphics Editor asked me if I wanted the position when she left. Being extremely underqualified, I declined the offer. I am glad she never gave up and tricked me into accepting the position by inviting me to Graphics Editor training. After two training sessions, she referred me as the Graphics Editor to our lovely administrative assistant when I had not confirmed my decision yet. I was basically roped in at that point. I love telling my staff that I became the Graphics Editor because no one wanted the position. I will continue to believe this until someone fact-checks me on this. Because why was I even nominated? 

Travelling to downtown Dallas for photo assignments continued in my role as a Graphics Editor. Besides picking up the most distance-challenging photo assignments, I also make graphics and design pages. I barely drew in my time at The Mercury. I’m not a drawer, I’m a collager. If you picked up a physical copy of The Mercury, there is a 25% chance that I designed that one really cool page, given that there are usually three other people besides me who design artisanal pages. 

Enough about my job. I stayed with The Mercury because of the people. Most people I talk to are from The Mercury. I would not have a social life without The Mercury, although it also hinders my chance to have a social life outside of it. On the other hand, I don’t socialize that much regardless. Therefore, forcing myself to talk to fellow nerds really helps. I love my Mercury people.  

I genuinely think I became a management member at the right time, because I would not trade this management and editorial board for another. It is a tight-knit group of nerdy people. We do silly things and have a terrible work-life balance here at The Mercury. For example, spending every other Friday and Saturday in The Mercury’s office did wonders for my sleep deprivation, doubling my all-nighters. I guess this is some sort of Stockholm syndrome. 

I want to thank the previous Graphics Editor, Jamie Lin, for believing in me. Thank you to the 2023-2024 editorial board and management team for making me feel every emotion known to man, from depression and rage to happiness and pride. 

When I heard about our many CMA and TIPA awards, I was ecstatic. My people did that, especially my top-tier graphics department. If any artist is reading this, I am so proud of you. You brought these awards home. You guys are talented artists and amazing staff members. Thank you for being my staff. 

I also want to thank UTD’s other student media organizations. I love talking to AMP people. Radio playlists rarely miss. UTD TV is getting cooler every day. Thank you to Heather Valcik for being our lovely administrative assistant with colorful makeup and a great sense of fashion. Thank you for feeding us candies and energy bars. Thank you to Jonathan Stewart, better known as “J-Stew,” for being our adviser. I loved it when you said you did not know what we talked about half the time and pretended you didn’t know for the other half, because that is exactly how I perceived you. 

What is my goal for the future? I have so many, but none of them are coming true right now. I’m trying my best in life, as always. I plan to return for an administrative role in Student Media, so watch out. This is not the last you will see of me. Peace out for now. 


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  • 🥺🥺🥺 this was such a beautiful read. Mm and I fact checked you so you better believe you were hand-picked for this role 🤺✨

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