On the Spanish Infographics Diaspora

By Alberto Cairo

I often wonder what has led so many Spanish infographics designers to scatter to the four winds. To my knowledge, we can be found all over Western Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and the Americas (north and south). Many of the most awarded and innovative news infographics teams in the last three decades have had one or more Spaniards among their ranks.

My memory of the Spanish infographics diaspora begins in 2002. That was the first time that I attended the Malofiej International Infographics Summit, organized by the University of Navarra since 1993. Malofiej was discontinued during the COVID pandemic, but until then, it had been a talent catalyst and the main meeting point for journalism professionals specialized in communicating through statistical charts, maps, and illustrations.

In subsequent editions of Malofiej, I crossed paths with many Spanish infographics designers who had succeeded in the United States: Fernando Baptista, Chiqui Esteban, Xaquín G.V. (who worked with me for many years in Spain), Gorka Sampedro, Mónica Serrano, Juan Velasco, Javier Zarracina, and many others.

Those based in the USA talked about working conditions that seemed unimaginable to us, even to those working for the leading Spanish newspapers (I was head of online infographics at El Mundo newspaper until 2005). For example, salaries were not just decent, but even high, at least compared to averages in Spain, where journalism has traditionally been a precarious profession.

They also mentioned reasonable working hours. No staying in the newsroom for ten hours or more, which was common in Spanish media, but rather seven or eight, but well utilized. As if that weren’t enough, they had reasonable resources, money to attend conferences and workshops, and to finance long-term projects, something unusual in our country.