Especially if they’re reading the newspapers for which I’m lucky enough to be consulting these days.

Not only am I teaching the talented infographics staff here basics of storytelling and page composition, I’m also encouraging them to dream up and pitch their own projects. And to be more responsible for their own content, whenever possible.

One of the big topics this week is the rock supergroup U2. They’re in concert this Sunday here at the big soccer stadium just outside of Johannesburg. Then, they’re playing in Cape Town next Friday.

Two separate artists in the new Graphics24 office wanted to put together their own U2 projects. Now, if it were me, I’d have made the tough call to pick one. Or I’d have tried to find a way to have them collaborate. Despite working out of offices hundreds of miles apart.

The somewhat innovative solution brand-new graphics director Andre Gouws came up with: Green-light both projects and then juggle assignments to give both artists a chance to make their graphics happen. Because there are plenty of opportunities around here to use them.

That’s genius. Not only does it make features editors here happy, it also delights the visual journalists. Because nothing breeds good work like properly showcasing good work.

And — believe me — nothing breeds proactivity like saying “yes.”

So, enough preamble. Now, for a look at the graphics themselves.

First up was this piece by Rudi Louw. It ran Sunday in the big nationally-distributed paper, Rapport. In Afrikaans, of course.

Naturally, click this — or any image today — for a closer look.

As you can see, the upper part of the graphic takes a look at the technical aspects of the concert itself and the technology that will be used there. The bit at the top center focuses on the Soccer City stadium where U2 will play Sunday.

The lower half contains a photoillustration of band members and a thumbnail bio of each. Across the bottom is a look at the 12 studio albums U2 has released over the past 31 years.

(Jesus. Has it been that long?)

Rudi chose to reverse the entire graphic out of black in order to mimic the feel of a rock concert. He was careful to take the cyan, magenta and yellow out of that black in order to avoid readability issues in case of registration problems. Despite the fact that these Media24 papers usually print pretty well.

Oh, and before I forget: There’s an English version running this weekend in Rapport’s English-language sister paper, City Press.

Rudi is a 1989 graduate of Selborne College in East London, South Africa. He spent 19-and-a-half years as a graphics artist at the newspaper at the East London Daily Dispatch before joining Graphics24 in early November.

Left: Rudi Louw. Right: Jaco Grobbelaar.

So that was Sunday.

Today — Friday — readers received our second U2 volley, this one by Jaco Grobbelaar, a longtime graphic artist for die Burger, the daily in Cape Town. He, too, is a charter member of Graphics24. But, of course, he works out of our Cape Town office.

Jaco was aware Rudi had a U2 piece in progress. I was sitting two seats down from him at die Burger when I received a preliminary version of Rudi’s graphic. I offered to show it to him, but Jaco begged me not to. He didn’t want to be influenced by it.

The result of Jaco’s labor was a completely different graphic with a completely different feel but covering much of the same material. It ran as an open tabloid page today in die Burger as well as Johannesburg’s Beeld.

Jaco covered the technical bit about “the claw” down the left side. He spent his main visual coin on the band itself. His discography — down the right side — wasn’t as detailed as Rudi’s, but note the icons showing the number of singles and No. 1 hit singles off of each album.

A thin stripe across the middle addresses the two stadiums where the band will appear this week. A timeline across the bottom covers the history of the band.

I love the way Jaco went with circles — rather than squares or blocks — in order to break up his spaces. I also like the flexibilty he showed while the graphic was in progress. He originally aimed for a red-colored palette…

…but shifted to blue after the features editor in Cape Town suggested he go with a cooler color in order to distance the piece from Rudi’s piece in Rapport the previous Sunday. It’s a credit to Jaco’s design and work habits that he made the change with no impact at all on the information or deadlines.

So the new graphics division here produced two successful U2 graphics. One for the Sunday papers and one for the dailies. Both were produced independently. Both were the result of an artist proactively pitching — and then researching and writing — their own material.

Which do you like better? And why? The folks here would love to hear your thoughts.

Yeah. It’s been a good week. I’d say we’re making progress.