An eye for local news presentation: Imaginative designers bring Courier content to life

Grace Felschundneff, left, and Skylar Anderson at Disneyland on March 1. The graphic designers discovered their mutual love for the “happiest place on earth” during Anderson’s Claremont Courier interview in May 2021. Courier Photo/Grace Felschundneff

by Peter Weinberger |

If you rarely review the Claremont Courier staff box on page 5, it would be hard to tell what Skylar Anderson’s and Grace Felschundneff’s responsibilities are for the newspaper and website. Yet, they have two of the most important jobs in the newsroom.

They deal with the classic high stress work of managing the design and layout of every page in the print edition, including updating the website and producing a newsletter after the paper is completed each Thursday afternoon. It’s nonstop work “paginating” the news on large computer screens for eight to 10 hours on the Courier’s production day.

On some weeks, not all those pages come together perfectly either. There are printer deadlines that cannot be missed, computer malfunctions, not to mention dozens of content and layout changes while juggling the flow of words and pictures created by the editorial staff. These are skills both Skylar and Grace have developed through experience. And every week — every day online — they present our readers with Courier staff written local news.

Skylar Anderson
As the Courier’s editorial page designer, Skylar has a unique set of challenges each week shaping 20-25 stories and dozens of images edited and modified to fill the Courier’s print and digital products. Generally, regular features like crosswords, obituaries, police blotter, letters and calendar tend to be completed first, starting on page six. It’s the first five pages for each print edition and the homepage on the website that are distinctly more fluid guided by the flow of news. Once the newspaper is sent to the printer, with the help of editor Mick Rhodes, Skylar updates the website and produces a digital newsletter from the content of the print edition.

Skylar came to the Courier a year after graduating from the University of Oregon with a B.S. in journalism and a minor in multimedia. A perfect fit for us.

What set her apart, however, was a love and appreciation for page design. It was clear she wanted a career in design and print and had a quiet confidence that she was ready for the job. There was another candidate that had more experience, but Skylar was ready to work and learn. And WOW, did that happen!

After an initial training period I began to notice her pages were getting more unique and creative. When she graduated to page one, somehow her fingers started to move at a blazing speed. When I would ask, “Do you need help with these pages?” She would quietly state, “Oh, I’ve already got those done.” Soon she kept asking for more pages, and before we knew it, we were working for Skylar as she produced all our news pages, including obituaries.

Skylar also produces our twice weekly email digital newsletter, a very popular item for our readers. In 2022, the newsletter was named the best in California for community newspapers and websites by the California News Publishers Association. I was proud to work with her producing our very popular photography book, “Timeless Claremont.” Just part of a budding career that will continue to grow.

Grace Felschundneff
Grace started working as the Courier’s ad designer in 2016. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a B.S. in mass communications with a concentration in advertising, and was second in her class in that track. She began her career as a partner in a small ad agency in Naples, Florida, focused on promoting the luxury real estate market. She later worked as the advertising director for Prudential Florida Realty’s 90-associate flagship Park Shore office, and then joined the display advertising department at the Naples Daily News.

Since moving to Claremont in 1999, she has worked as a designer and editor, producing reports for think tanks including the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute at Pitzer College and the Traffic Safety Center at UC Berkeley.

At the Courier Grace focuses on advertising design, and produces the classified, real estate, and legal sections, all difficult jobs because of the high level of detail. She has developed a close working relationship with local real estate brokers, playing a dual role of selling and designing a wide variety of advertising.

It’s important to note the major contributions Grace made during the pandemic. This was before Skylar started working for the Courier, so she volunteered to design our special sections each month in addition to doing her regular work. For more than 18 months Grace and I managed the production of all our print and digital content. We never missed a publish date, making sure our readers stayed informed during a difficult time for the public. Her commitment to the Courier has never wavered.


Skylar Anderson, left, and Grace Felschundneff at the Courier offices on Tuesday. Courier photo/Peter Weinberger


How did you first get interested in print design?

GRACE: “I’ve always made stuff — mainly, a mess — last week I trashed our art supplies closet and my entire side of our office/studio while making a light-up Heart of Te Fiti-inspired pendant as a birthday greeting for my 8-year-old Moana-fan nephew. Just the latest in a lifetime of covering the carpet of every bedroom I ever occupied as a child with paint and glue. And then I was expelled from a private international school in Tokyo at age 11 after delighting classmates with my convincing caricatures and playful prose featuring the headmistress and others. So, from the very beginning it was pretty obvious where my gifts lay, and I have used them (mostly) for good, and a paycheck, ever since as a writer, editor, and graphic designer.”

SKYLAR: “For as long as I can remember, most of my interests have centered around feeding my creativity. Growing up I gravitated towards things like writing, drawing and photography. These naturally grew into more evolved forms such as print design. What really solidified my interest though was when I took few newspaper design courses in college. The assignments were challenging yet fun, and it was the perfect blend of both design and journalism that I was seeking in a career. From then on out, I decided to take print design more seriously.”

How long have you lived in Claremont?

GRACE: “Steven and I met at the Naples (Florida) Daily News, and made the cross-country drive in my Miata almost exactly 25 years ago today. We arrived on April 4, 1999 after an epic five week road trip, which included a snowed-in mountain pass requiring chains (yes, they do make them in size XS and I still carry them in my trunk just in case). We live in the house he grew up in as a third generation Claremonter, so he knows everybody, and I love our neighbors and all the friends we’ve made around our fun and charming town. Plus, the best beer in the world comes from right around the corner at Claremont Craft Ales — Baseline IPA — and we don’t drink anything else, ever, except when they brew a batch of Desert IPA.”

SKYLAR: “I have been a part of this community since childhood and continue to participate in it as a young adult. I went to school here, performed at Bridges Auditorium, attended numerous Village Ventures and Independence Day celebrations — and I now work at the Courier. I have fond memories of this town and the people and places that I associate it with. It’s home.”

How do you explain your job to the public, and what do you like about it?

SKYLAR: “As the editorial page designer for the Courier, my job includes various responsibilities. I take all the written content and media from the week and carefully construct it together on a page to create a cohesive piece of work — all while ensuring that the style of the Courier remains consistent every publication. Since the world of journalism moves so quickly, I am constantly redesigning pages as well — moving stories around, swapping out photos, changing ads, and implementing new features to make sure everything fits correctly and makes sense next to each other. It’s a very dynamic and detail oriented process. I also produce the special editions that run every month, as well as the Courier’s bi-weekly newsletter. It’s a job that keeps you on your toes and part of the reason I started working at the Courier. As a bonus I get to serve a community that has served me throughout my life.”

GRACE: “My job at the Courier has evolved over the time I’ve worked here, and since the pandemic when everyone on staff wore an ever-changing array of hats. I’ve now settled into ad design and archiving, handling real estate advertising accounts, and producing the real estate, classified and legal sections. I enjoy the work and the people most of the time and the opportunity to be part of the ongoing history of Claremont’s 116-year-old newspaper. And it’s great to have a coworker who loves all the same rides at Disneyland that I do!”


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