Picture This: Illustrator Gets Inspired By The Morning News

Maria Fabrizio created this image on the morning of Dec. 27, after hearing Tom Bowman's Morning Edition  story about how most female Marine Corps recruits aren't able to meet a new pullup standard.

Maria Fabrizio created this image on the morning of Dec. 27, after hearing Tom Bowman's Morning Edition story about how most female Marine Corps recruits aren't able to meet a new pullup standard. Maria Fabrizio hide caption

itoggle caption Maria Fabrizio

People don't often think of the news as a source of inspiration — and certainly not a source of daily inspiration. But that's what it's turned into for Maria Fabrizio, an illustrator based in Columbia, S.C.

Wordless News began in February 2013, when, on a whim, Fabrizio illustrated Pope Benedict "hanging up his hat." i i

Wordless News began in February 2013, when, on a whim, Fabrizio illustrated Pope Benedict "hanging up his hat." Maria Fabrizio hide caption

itoggle caption Maria Fabrizio
Wordless News began in February 2013, when, on a whim, Fabrizio illustrated Pope Benedict "hanging up his hat."

Wordless News began in February 2013, when, on a whim, Fabrizio illustrated Pope Benedict "hanging up his hat."

Maria Fabrizio

For about a year, Fabrizio has been working on a project called Wordless News, in which she draws one image a day based on a story she hears or reads that morning. Starting Monday, she'll spend a week creating images inspired by what she hears on Morning Edition.

The idea for Wordless News came to Fabrizio in February 2013, when Pope Benedict decided to step down or — as Fabrizio imagined it — hang up his hat.

"I wasn't too busy at work that day, so I just started drawing the really fantastic pope hat on just a pretty ordinary looking hat rack," she tells NPR's David Greene. " ... I posted it on Facebook, and I got a huge response of people just saying, 'You should do this tomorrow,' and, 'Do it the next day.' And so I just have been doing it ever since. It's a part of my daily routine now."

Fabrizio gets up around 4:45 a.m., scans the news for great stories, and then goes to work in her studio — which is conveniently located in her backyard. She works on Wordless News until about 10 a.m. and then turns her attention to work she's doing for her graphic design clients.

One NPR story that caught her attention back in April explored NASA's plan to "shrink-wrap" an asteroid.

"I immediately thought of this giant space rock and two astronauts trying to shrink-wrap it," Fabrizio says. "And it felt like something you would find in like a kid's room. You know, it almost seemed like a superhero moment. Of course the real story — that's not how they're going to shrink-wrap it at all." (If you're curious, you can find out more about how they'd actually do it here.)

Wordless News fans can subscribe to receive Fabrizio's daily image as an email. "It's kind of a riddle," she says. " ... When you click on the image, it takes you to the news story. So a lot of people use it as just kind of a break in their morning at work."

For Fabrizio, working on the fly is a way to experiment and stay agile. "For me, it's just a way to grow conceptually and refine my style as an illustrator," she says.

Check back next week to see Fabrizio create one illustration a day, inspired by a story she hears on Morning Edition.

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